I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t read further if you’d like to avoid spoilers for the movie Star Wars The Last Jedi.

You’ve been warned.

As I move through all the comments I have on this movie please keep in mind that I really enjoyed this movie. It’s a good film. There are issues, there is no perfect film. I still found myself excited and filled with anticipation. I will admit it might be nostalgia that works for me when the music starts and the letters start to scroll up the screen. It won’t ever match the first time a star destroyer thundered over my head and into the top of the frame – how could it? The visuals and the music were as amazing as they were expected to be. The ships, the worlds, the creatures and the outfits are always the best. I was not disappointed in any of that.

The biggest thing that bothered me was bad casting. Not the main characters, the secondary characters. Give me more folks like Kelly Marie Tran. Please. We don’t need big name people in secondary roles. I would have loved any unknown woman leading the rebel fleet but I was pushed out of my suspension of disbelief and right out of the flow of the movie when I first saw Laura Dern. She’s a fantastic actor. Love her stuff – great in October Sky, really liked her Jurassic Park role. It took me another third of the movie to remember who she was and where else I’d seen her and that just broke the flow of the story completely. The only thing worse than that? Benicio del Toro. I hate that he’s in there. I do not like his work at all – never have. I recognized him right away, so less distracting on that front but just aggravated me every time he was on the screen. His character wasn’t meant to be likable, but putting him in that role made me wish some officer channeled Vader and altered the deal… with a blaster. Get out of Star Wars you giant distractions!

Stuff that other fans freaked out over. Snoke. He was what I would call a standard Sith let down. I haven’t seen a Sith since Vader that was worth a damn. They die in short order every time. I have no idea why people expected anything else. It was a sneaky, deceptive way that he was killed and that was cool. Where an outright fight would be lost, deception took the day. Moving on from that ~ Rey’s parents. This movie supposedly answers that. I disagree. We just said how sneaky Kylo Ren was, why would you believe that he would tell Rey the truth? He’s a lying liar who lies – manipulate to get what you want, rage when you don’t get it. I am fine with the “reveal” that really wasn’t. Didn’t matter to me. A lot of other things mattered more.

I love that Yoda was back in this film. It made me smile. I missed him as much as me missed “young Skywalker”.

Skywalker. I could see the tie backs to the other movies. I was waiting for Luke to pull an Obi-wan on Ben Solo. He did, but in a far better way than I expected him to. That was really well done. Loved it. Punched me in the feelings when he simply said, “where’s Han?” and then the movie cut away. The film makers let you do the emotional work on that one.

I didn’t like that Leia used the force to save herself. I would have been fine with her not surviving the bridge blast. It’s terrible, but that’s how war goes. It would have given a certain amount of realism to their battle. There’s real danger to the main characters. Now I don’t know what they’ll do, but I’m thinking it won’t be a satisfying story reason for not being on screen again.

And that leads me to another thing about this movie. For as much as I loved it, the feeling was certainly bittersweet. No more Luke. No more Han. Yes, they’re going back in time to show us who he was before all the Star Wars stuff, but it’s not the same. No more Leia. No more Vader. We’ve got BB-8 rather than R2-D2. It’s a marker that shows an ending point to things from my youth. Perhaps, like Luke I make a choice to move on without the Jedi. I’m sure that Disney will wring out the franchise for everything they can, but I’ll certainly have to wait and see if I go back for more in the theater. As much as anything else, this really felt like an ending for me. A good ending, but and ending none the less. I hope there’s a kid out there right now looking for a Poe Dameron action figure flying an X-wing around. I hope that generation can come back in 40 years and still enjoy this story.

Movies and movies and movies…

There have been a lot of times that I’ve complained about what Hollywood is doing with movies. Sometimes they do seem to get it right. It will show my age but I don’t care. Back in 1984 a number of movies hit theaters that set a standard for what an amazing list of movie going experiences should look like. That year Terminator, Karate Kid, Dune, Ghostbusters, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai, Red Dawn, Repo Man, Gremlins, Conan the Destroyer, Indiana Jones and the Temple of… monkey brains (yeah, I know), Revenge of the Nerds and (just for fun) Romancing the Stone all crashed into my head and stuck there. That’s an iconic list.

Yesterday I watched a movie trailer for “The Little Prince” animated feature. It looked fantastic and I wanted to know when it was coming out. When I looked (July) I realized what an incredible year we might have on our hands this year. IF I were the age I was in 1984 again now I’m certain these movies, this year, would set the standard for the rest of my life.

Here are the movies I’m thinking of:

Avengers 2
Mad Max – Fury Road
Inside Out (Pixar!)
Ant Man
The Little Prince
Jurassic World
Fantastic Four
Terminator Genisys (yeah, I know)

Later this year we get the next 007 (Spectre) and then in December Star Wars.

Are they all “original”? No – hell, Terminator is still making the list with the same star. There are still issues with the way movie stories are selected and moved forward. I don’t want to see the new super action stunt oriented “Point Break” with new, younger stars and huge high flying stunts. There had to be something better to do with that budget. None the less, this year looks like it could really be something special. I only hope these films actually live up to the hype building around them. It seems a steep task, but what if that happened? I know my movie going budget for this year is already busted – I’ll be at the theater quite a lot.

What movies are you really excited about this year?

My Un-requested Response

I’ve been away for a while. Most people get apologetic about blog-fade and commit to doing more. I’ve even done that in the past. Not this time. Real world stuff happens ~ and I’ll post more about that later.

I’ve been thinking about role playing and how much I miss it lately. Work, parenting and other things have combined to leave me very little time for it, but I hope to get back to it someday soon. When I started playing it was all about the fun of getting together with friends and firing up our imaginations. I’ve still got my entire collection of stuff. As I look back at them, they are round and worn at the edges. Collectors everywhere are certainly twitching at the idea of a colored in with colored pencils version of the inside cover art. We weren’t collecting, we were playing, having fun, letting our imaginations run wild. We fought off the monsters, we were the heroes in a time when the world seemed against us. So, in a totally unasked for and unexpected response to a friend posting some other person’s favorites list, here’s a list of my Top 10 favorite old school D&D modules.

#1 I can’t really argue with this at the top of the list. It’s a first for many and fun for most. Some very memorable stuff in there.

B2: The Keep on the Borderlands by Gary Gygax (1979)

#2 I liked the story elements in this next one. I actually have used it more than once in various forms in my own campaigns, often adding other little touches to make the story matter to the current set of characters.

B3 Palace of the Silver Princess by Tom Moldvay and Jean Wells (1983)

#3 As always, being the hero on a mission… we just sturggled to get past that muddy patch before we even got to the gate!

A-1 Slave Pits of the Undercity by David Cook (1980)

#4 I loved the problem solving mixed in with the action. I actually think I have 2 copies of this around here someplace.

C-2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness by Allen Hammack (1979)

#5 I was blown away by the art ~ particularly the maps of this module (and the series really). I didn’t like being channeled toward the same story line, but man was this a pretty module.

DL-1 Dragons of Despair by Tracy Hickman (1984)

#6 I was totally delighted when I found so much of this in the book Ready Player One. I’m glad it’s had the unlife it’s had! The quintessential “I’m mad at my players, I’m going to kill them all horribly now” module.

S-1 Tomb of Horrors by Gary Gygax (1978)

#7 This one was a high level quest that had a lot of weird stuff in it. My favorite part was attempting to envision three dimensionally how the web map worked and what happened when you tried to jump from one piece to another.

Q-1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits by Gary Gygax and David Sutherland (1980)

#8 As I went through these as a kid I was usually drawn to the action, but this module had a lot of story based encounters that relied on avoiding violence. It was fresh to me in that way.

UK-1 Beyond The Crystal Cave by Browne, Kirby and Morris (1983)

#9 The unusual treasures and my friends use of said treasures in new and creative ways are really the things that stick out most about this module in my memory… seriously, folding boats?

S-4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth by Gary Gygax (1982)

#10 It’s kind of cheating to put this one on the end – because it’s really three in one. I didn’t get the originals on their own, I got this version and loved it.

G1-2-3 Against The Giants by Gary Gygax (1981)

So there they are – my top 10. They live in nostalgia in my mind and still have a place on my shelves here at the house. There were many other modules and after that world settings that I really wanted to dig deeper into. The longer into the late 80s and early 90s I went, the more difficult it became to keep up with everything, let alone play it all. I was always intrigued by the Spelljammer stuff but never got to play it. I loved the look of the Desert of Desolation series, and was really happy to see the Al Quadim setting. I actually won some art from the Al Quadim setting when I was at Gen Con just as it was coming out. The picture below is from that set of art. Sadly I feel a little like the genie as I come to the end of this post. All of these treasures are just there at my fingertips but I’m being pulled back toward all those “real world” things I’m supposed to be taking care of…