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Thursday, February 16, 2017

First Look at Rey, Finn, and Poe in Force Friday II Announcement

As part of their announcement of Force Friday II (the day when The Last Jedi toys and other products hit shelves), which will will be on September 1, Lucasfilm has released an image of the basic packaging for the merchandise, providing us with our first official look at three of our favorite heroes in The Last Jedi.
Finn and Poe Dameron both seem to have slightly different costumes, but – as usual – Rey steals the show, looking as fierce as ever and sporting a new, longer hairdo. She's wielding Anakin and Luke Skywalker's old lightsaber once again, suggesting that in the first scenes of the movie, Luke refuses to accept her offering and instead tells her to keep the weapon for herself and continue to use it under his tutelage.

Obviously this is a very small reveal that doesn't provide any real plot details, but it's still exciting to see the three young heroes of The Force Awakens again. This promo art is just the latest step of Lucasfilm's slow-build marketing campaign, which will hopefully reach new heights in April with a teaser trailer (and a behind-the-scenes reel around that time as well).

What do you think of this promo art? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The 20 Best 'Star Wars' Tracks

Star Wars is known for many things – lightsaber duels, giant round superweapons, complex parent-child relationships, etc. – but its most enduring achievement has always been its music. The franchise has fluctuated in terms of acting quality and basic format (animated versus live-action) in the past 40 years, but the music has always been strong. 

Legendary composer John Williams can be thanked for this. He scored the Original Trilogy, the Prequel Trilogy, and The Force Awakens, earning him four of his 50 total Oscar nominations. He's turning 85 today and is still hard at work on the soundtrack for The Last Jedi. His music has been defining and redefining Star Wars since 1977. 
In honor of Williams' birthday today, we're ranking the 20 best pieces of music (so far) from the entire Star Wars franchise. These include both tracks by Williams himself and those that clearly took inspiration from his superb work. 

20. "A New Hope and End Credits" (Revenge of the Sith)

Revenge of the Sith was intended (or at least, believed by most) to be the conclusion of the Star Wars saga. The music that plays during the end credits blends together some of John Williams' best work from both the Prequels and the Original Trilogy to create an exceptional finale for one of the greatest film series of all time. 
The first minute or so of the track samples "Princess Leia's Theme" and "Binary Sunset" as the two Skywalker newborns are shown with their new, adoptive parents. The "End Credits" portion starts off with the usual Star Wars theme, then transitions into an extended repeat of "Princess Leia's Theme," followed by "Battle of the Heroes," "The Throne Room" from the end of A New Hope, and other classics.
While containing very little original content, "A New Hope and End Credits" is still an extremely nostalgic and celebratory track made for the few diehard fans who sat in the theater for 10 minutes after Revenge of the Sith ended. During the last few seconds of fanfare, you get the feeling that Williams himself was tearing up a bit, thinking that this was his last contribution to Star Wars. (We're all very glad that it wasn't.)

19. "Hope" (Rogue One

Taking its name from the final word spoken in Rogue One, this track kicks off with an awesome and horrifying rendition of "The Imperial March" as Darth Vader confronts a corridor of unlucky Rebel troops. Using a loud choir backed by strings and brass, it makes Vader's ensuing slaughter even more glorious. 
Composer Michael Giacchino finishes this sequence with a brief sample of the traditional "Imperial March" theme as Vader watches the Tantive IV slip through his grasp. The music quiets down aboard the ship, save for some teasing (and quite appropriate) notes from "Rebel Blockade Runner" in the background. "Binary Sunset" tops it all off as Princess Leia receives the Death Star plans, declaring them a new "hope" for the Rebel Alliance.
"Binary Sunset" isn't an especially creative choice to end the movie; both Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens use it as an easy way to lead into the end credits. The first half of "Hope" is really what makes it so great. Giacchino does what every Star Wars composer should do: he takes a classic Williams theme and puts his own spin on it.

18. "It's Over Now" (Rebels)

"Twilight of the Apprentice," Rebels' Season 2 finale, didn't exactly have a happy ending. By the time the credits rolled, Darth Maul was once again on the loose, Jedi Kanan Jarrus had been rendered permanently blind, padawan Ezra Bridger was slipping to the Dark Side, and Ahsoka Tano's long-awaited reunion with her former master, Darth Vader, had descended into an emotional battle to the death that left her fate unclear.
And yet, Kevin Kiner's track that closes out the episode isn't the soft, somber music that you would expect from such a harrowing 44 minutes. "It's Over Now" is loud, epic, and strangely triumphant. It's a proud victory march paired with a bleak finishing montage that presents nothing but devastating loss and even more trouble down the road for the heroes. 
Perhaps the reason "It's Over Now" works so well is that it's the antidote to an absolutely depressing season finale. The brass, strings, percussion, and background choir fit together seamlessly in a theme that inspires action and hope. It literally ends the episode on a high note.

17. "Luke and Leia" (Return of the Jedi)

This track signals the moment that Luke reveals to Leia that she's his sister – and a member of the Skywalker family – in the Ewok village. It's the final stage of the evolution of Leia's music throughout the Original Trilogy; from "Princess Leia's Theme" to "Han Solo and the Princess," and now "Luke and Leia."
The beautiful, sweeping notes are far less vulnerable than Leia's previous themes. Despite its title, this track is more about Leia's newfound strength and confidence than her relationship with Luke, as she realizes that she has a natural, powerful connection to the Force.
This music has a fairly limited presence after being introduced, since its titular characters don't have many more scenes together in Return of the Jedi. More than any other track on this list, we can hope that the "Luke and Leia" motif will return in The Last Jedi, simply because it would mean the heartwarming reunion of the Skywalker twins. 

16. "Ahsoka Leaves" (The Clone Wars)

This strings-heavy track by Kiner accompanies The Clone Wars' most heartbreaking scene: Ahsoka's dramatic walk out of the Jedi Temple as she chooses to leave the Order – despite the pleas of her beloved master, Anakin – in the Season 5 finale, "The Wrong Jedi."
A beautiful, tragic rendition of "Binary Sunset" plays during the first 20 seconds, but it's not until 1:19 that the emotion really starts pouring in. The ascending string notes finish Season 5 (and the last episode of the series to be aired on television) with a tone that could only be described as bittersweet. It was the end of an era, but not the end of The Clone Wars, nor Ahsoka herself.
The haunting woodwind notes at the end of the track, paired with the episode's end credits, are actually a much softer version of the principal theme from "It's Over Now." It's as if Kiner was already planning his score for the next major Anakin/Ahsoka episode. 

15. "The Emperor Arrives" (Return of the Jedi)

Unlike Darth Vader, the Emperor doesn't have a single ounce of good within him. He's the most diabolical and wretched character in all of Star Wars, so it's fitting that his personal theme, which starts at 1:05 in this track, is somehow even more sinister than Vader's. It features an all-male choir (the first choir ever used in Star Wars music, in fact) and lots of low, low notes that ooze with the Dark Side. 
This motif reappears several times in the Prequels and serves as the inspiration for Supreme Leader Snoke's theme, but perhaps its most ominous use is at the end of The Phantom Menace. The parade music on Naboo sung by a chorus of innocent children is actually a variation of the Emperor's theme in major key, hinting at his insidious plot that loomed over the celebration. 

14. "Princess Leia's Theme" (A New Hope)

As the title would suggest, this iconic track is synonymous with Leia Organa. Its soft and beautiful notes are used as a musical cue throughout the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens, popping up whenever she does. 
The major flaw with this track is that it portrays Leia as gentle and subdued – a "typical princess," if you will. In reality, we all know that she's a strong leader, a capable warrior, and a pretty rude and outspoken woman in general. "Princess Leia's Theme" isn't bad music, but it fails to actually capture the essence of the character it's named after.

13. "The Asteroid Field" (The Empire Strikes Back)

The Millennium Falcon's frantic chase from persistent TIE fighters is paired with a track that just doesn't slow down. "The Asteroid Field" is a roller coaster the whole way through. From the sinister "Imperial March" samples at the beginning to the quick "Han Solo and the Princess" notes at 3:25, it brings you to the edge of your seat. 
The best part of "The Asteroid Field" is unquestionably the brass explosion at 2:17. No other chase music from Star Wars – including the fantastic "Zam the Assassin and the Chase Through Coruscant" from Attack of the Clones and "The Falcon" from The Force Awakens – manages to capture the same thrill of those notes, and it's a shame that they haven't reappeared since. 

12. "The Jedi Steps and Finale" (The Force Awakens)

The cliffhanger at the end of The Force Awakens is unlike the ending of any Star Wars film before it, and the music that plays during it is equally unique, combining Rey and Luke Skywalker's respective theme as the two Force users come face to face. 
As Rey ascends the titular stone steps on the island on the planet Ahch-To, these mysterious and intriguing notes play, reaching a wondrous crescendo when she finally lays eyes upon a hooded Luke. Rey pulls out Luke's old lightsaber, offers it to him, and the music swells with "Binary Sunset," which leads right into the usual end-credits theme.
The "Finale" part of this track isn't recognized nearly as much (because everyone was leaving the theater while it played), but it does a great job of representing each of the film's characters, transitioning from "Rey's Theme" to Kylo Ren, Finn, and Poe Dameron's unofficial themes as well.

11. "Yoda's Theme" (The Empire Strikes Back)

This track is pure tranquility and positivity. Its gradually-rising, sweeping notes are a reflection of Yoda's own mellow demeanor at this point in his life. It totally embodies the Light Side of the Force; there's not a hint of conflict or evil to be found. 
You can hear this piece during the last moments of The Clone Wars' series finale (or at least, the last completed episode), "Sacrifice," paving the way for the resurgence of the Light Side – and a calmer, less troubled Yoda – in the distant future. 

10. "The Battle Of Endor II - Medley" (Return of the Jedi)

Williams' phenomenal score from the showdown in the Emperor's throne room is found in this 10-minute medley. When Vader threatens to turn Leia to the Dark Side, Luke lunges at him with a rage that can truly be felt in the sorrowful music that starts at 5:00 in the track below. 
Independently known as "A Jedi's Fury," this part of the track is a more layered version of the Emperor's theme. It's much more poignant than the typical exciting, inspiring Star Wars music you would expect in a scene where the hero is winning, because there's nothing inspiring about watching a son give in to his anger and furiously attack his weakened father to the point of cutting off his hand. 
At 8:19, the Emperor's theme comes in louder than ever before (or since) as the old man mercilessly tortures Luke with his Force lightning. Adding in a creepy, rising choir, it's at its most terrifying when Palpatine is moments away from electrocuting Luke to death...until "Binary Sunset" bursts in at 9:08, signaling Vader's redemption and return to the Light Side as he throws his master down the Death Star's reactor shaft.

9. "Your Father Would Be Proud" (Rogue One)

Named after the final words that Cassian speaks to Jyn as they prepare to be vaporized by the Death Star on the Scarif beach, "Your Father Would Be Proud" tackles the bittersweet conclusion of Rogue One. It manages to find an excellent balance between mourning the loss of the central Rebel team and celebrating their accomplishment.This is where Giacchino really sets himself apart from Williams and brings his own sound to the Star Wars saga. The first few minutes of the track have the same calmness of "Yoda's Theme" with some strong, tragic undertones. It's also reminiscent of the composer's previous work on Lost, which makes sense given that the show also took place on a tropical, paradisal beach terrain that held nefarious secrets.
The latter portion of the track, starting at 2:48, is a fitting tribute to Jyn in the form of her personal theme. Like Jyn herself, it's sad yet forceful, emotional yet powerful. It's the perfect way of acknowledging this heroine who doesn't get a whiff of recognition from the Rebellion that she died for. 

8. "Battle of the Heroes" (Revenge of the Sith)

This awesome, tragic track is more than worthy of accompanying the climax of the Prequel Trilogy: Anakin and Obi-Wan's duel on Mustafar. Between its choir and punctuating brass notes, you can tell that Williams sat down and really tried his hardest to make the most epic music possible for one of the franchise's most memorable moments.
"Battle of the Heroes" would be higher on this list if it wasn't so heavily inspired by "Duel of the Fates" from The Phantom Menace. "Battle of the Heroes" is more polished in some ways and certainly accompanies a more important moment in the Star Wars chronology, but it loses a few points from a lack of creativity. 
7. "Rey's Theme" (The Force Awakens)

It's appropriate that The Force Awakens' breakout character also receives the film's best piece of music. Rey's personal theme perfectly encapsulates all of her great qualities: her optimism, innocence, independence, sense of adventure, and the mystery surrounding her. Much like "Binary Sunset" and "Princess Leia's Theme," we can assume that "Rey's Theme" will recur throughout the Sequel Trilogy, albeit in evolved forms to accommodate Rey's own evolution. A remixed version has also been adopted as the unofficial theme for "The Star Wars Show," used in the intro sequence in each episode.
6. "Across the Stars" (Attack of the Clones)

Anakin and Padmé's romance is both the heart of Attack of the Clones and one of the worst parts of it, thanks to the famously wooden acting displayed in their scenes together. But "Across the Stars" is the opposite; it's bursting with (almost) enough emotion and angst to compensate for the clunky dialogue.
It's is simply a great love theme for this pair of melodramatic twentysomethings. Unlike the more rational Han and Leia, every moment spent apart is agony for Anakin and Padmé. Their forbidden, "star-crossed" love is doomed from the start, and the sweeping intensity of "Across the Stars" really evokes this tone.
5. "Han Solo and the Princess" (The Empire Strikes Back)

Nothing beats the original Star Wars romance. Han and Leia's love was more developed and realistic than any other found in the franchise. "Han Solo and the Princess" is their iconic theme, representing both the tenderness of their feelings and the strength that they gave each other. Its gentleness in comparison to "Across the Stars" is precisely why it's so superior.
Much like Han and Leia's love, this track has weathered the years. A nostalgia-inducing sample of it was heard in the The Force Awakenstrailer, as well as in the film's own track commemorating the couple, "Han and Leia."
Half of this beloved duo died in The Force Awakens, but that doesn't mean that this track can't reappear. The Last Jedi will surely include a scene of Leia reflecting on her lost love, making a great opportunity for "Han Solo and the Princess" to briefly return. 

4. "Duel of the Fates" (The Phantom Menace)

Regarded by many as the single best piece of music from the Prequels, "Duel of the Fates" plays during Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's climactic duel against Darth Maul in the Theed Royal Palace on Naboo. A relentless choir punctuates the epic and adrenaline-pumping notes as three warriors face off in a battle that only one of them will survive.
Part of what makes this track is good is that it's different from anything that the Original Trilogy offered. As the inspiration for "Battle of the Heroes," it marks an era of elaborate and tightly-choreographed lightsaber duels in the Star Wars saga, duels that need rapid-fire tracks to accompany them.
3. "The Imperial March" (The Empire Strikes Back)

Darth Vader's theme is nearly as famous as the Sith Lord himself. It's incredibly simple in comparison to some of Williams' other work, with a rhythm made for an authoritarian regime like the Galactic Empire. It's not nearly as dark as the Emperor's theme, but it still makes it clear that Vader isn't someone to be messed with. "The Imperial March" follows Vader's evolution. It's heard subtly during Anakin's darker moments in the Prequels. The theme is loudest and scariest in "Hope" in Rogue One, when Vader is at the height of his strength and brutality. During his death scene in Return of the Jedi, it's played on a quiet harp, indicating the end of his story. And of course, a few notes are heard when Kylo Ren confers with Vader's damaged helmet in The Force Awakens.
Vader and "The Imperial March" go hand in hand. Never has there been such an iconic and popular villain, and never has a villain had such a recognizable theme.

2. "Main Title" (A New Hope)

It doesn't get more Star Wars than this. This is the theme that starts and ends every single movie in the saga, erupting with the opening crawl and cueing in the end credits. Even The Clone Wars and Rebels use original (but recognizable) variations of "Main Title" in their intros. The only exception is Rogue One, which had an unconventional, crawl-less opening but still used this theme in its end credits.
For a Star Wars fan, there's no better sound than the first few notes of "Main Title." Whether you're hearing it in the movie theater on opening night or at the beginning of an in-home marathon, it means that you're about to watch something spectacular. 

1. "Binary Sunset" (A New Hope)

First heard during the iconic scene of Luke staring out at the binary sunset over Tatooine, this track isn't as recognizable as "Main Title," but its sad-yet-hopeful tone is more true to the core of Star Wars. It's appeared many times in every Star Wars movie and cartoon, representing both Luke and the Force itself. (It's alternatively known as "The Force Theme.")
"Binary Sunset" is the common thread that links all of the greatest Force-related moments. Aside from its first appearance, it can be heard when Leia senses a desperate Luke at the end of The Empire Strikes Back; when Obi-Wan grabs his master's lightsaber to slay Darth Maul at the climax of The Phantom Menace; and when Rey summons Luke's lightsaber in The Force Awakens, as well as later in the duel, when she remembers her newfound power and uses it to turn the tables on Kylo Ren.
Above all, "Binary Sunset" is an inherently nostalgic piece of music. That's precisely why most of the trailers for The Force Awakens and Rogue One used it in some form or another; the first few notes instantly tell the audience that this is Star Wars, even before they see the blasters and spaceships and stormtroopers.

To be clear, there are very few "bad" Star Wars tracks; almost every single one elevates the thrill and/or emotion of the accompanying footage to some extent. It's only when they experiment with diegetic music (heard by the characters in the film) that the results can be disastrous, like the infamous "Jedi Rocks" and "Yub Nub" from Return of the Jedi.

What's your favorite Star Wars track? What hopes do you have for the future of Star Wars music? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Monday, January 23, 2017

'Star Wars: Episode VIII' Title Officially Announced

We all knew this day was coming. Lucasfilm has announced that the film previously known as simply Star Wars: Episode VIII will have the official title of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The teaser poster for the film (seen above) has the classic Star Wars logo in sinister red lettering, hinting at the darker tone that we've been hearing about since it first started production.

At first glance, "The Last Jedi" refers to Luke Skywalker, who The Force Awakens dubbed the "last Jedi" multiple times. It's promising us that Luke will have a much larger role in Episode VIII as Rey's mentor, rather than the single scene (and zero lines of dialogue) he received in The Force Awakens
But as any true Star Wars fan can tell you, "Jedi" is both a singular and a plural, meaning that this title is sneakily suggesting – but not confirming – that Rey will join Luke as one of the last remaining Jedi in the galaxy. We won't really know if the word "Jedi" in the title is referring to one or two people until December 15.
"The Last Jedi" also suggests that Luke – either with or without Rey – is not going to be rebirthing the Jedi Order. He already tried starting up a new Jedi temple after Return of the Jedi, and it didn't work out so well.

More likely, a wholly new organization of Force users will be constructed. Perhaps by the end of Episode IX, Rey and Kylo Ren (representing the Light Side and Dark Side respectively) will have joined forces (pun intended) to create a new order that truly brings balance to the Force. 
Most importantly, this announcement signals the unofficial shift of Lucasfilm's marketing focus from Rogue One to The Last Jedi. They've been intentionally holding back reveals like this for the past few months, but now the ball's starting to roll. A teaser trailer is expected at Celebration Orlando in April, though we may very well get our first look at The Last Jedi sooner.

What do you think of this announcement? Are you looking forward to Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Top 10 Princess Leia Scenes

In honor of Carrie Fisher's passing last month, we're taking a look at her top 10 scenes as Princess Leia Organa. These are ranked not just on her actions, but how they portrayed her as the strong, three-dimensional, iconic heroine that she was.

10. Leia's introduction

Princess Leia's first real scene in A New Hope immediately establishes that despite her fancy gown and royal status, she's no ordinary princess. Stormtroopers spot her on the Tantive IV and set their weapons to stun. Leia doesn't take the same liberty. She blasts one of them with lethal accuracy and makes a break for the escape pod, before getting stunned and captured by the troopers.
This scene reveals very little about her actual character, but it sets up a detail that will recur throughout the Original Trilogy: Leia happens to be one of the best shots in the Star Wars universe. Her skill with a blaster is one of the most awesome qualities she shares with her mother.

9. Reacting to Han's death

This isn't a scene so much as a single, long shot of Leia nearly collapsing with grief in the Resistance base after Kylo Ren stabs Han through the heart. The look of anguish on her face is truly heartbreaking, and it accentuates the tragedy of the moment. 
The incredible pain that she's feeling is from both the death of her soulmate and the fact that their son was responsible. Leia's simultaneously lost two of the most important people in her life; one's falling down a pit on Starkiller Base with a new hole in his chest, while the other has officially fallen to the Dark Side. 
What makes this shot so powerful is that it's a silent confirmation to the audience that Leia's Force sensitivity is very much still present. At the very least, she can still sense those closest to her from afar. If Leia ends up reuniting with Kylo in Episode VIII, let's hope that she trades a motherly hug for a badass, rage-fueled Force push. 

8. Disguised as Boushh

Leia makes quite an entrance in Return of the Jedi. As part of an intricate plan to rescue Han from Jabba's palace, she disguises herself as the bounty hunter Boushh and bargains with Jabba for the reward for "capturing" Chewbacca. When he won't agree to her price, the unrecognizable Princess calmly pulls out a thermal detonator and threatens to blow up Jabba's throne room. No surprise, he settles.
It's not until later that Boushh's true identity is revealed. Leia demonstrates some impressive espionage skill in this scene – she learned a whole alien language, for crying out loud. Not just any woman could pose as an intimidating, male bounty hunter and nearly pul it off, nor have the courage to threaten one of the galaxy's most feared crime lords with a suicidal explosion. 

7. Killing Jabba

It's no secret that Fisher was very much against Leia's infamous golden bikini when she's briefly enslaved by Jabba the Hutt at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. It was a shameless oversexualization of the character, and worst of all, it permanently turned Fisher into a sex symbol, an unwanted role that would plague her for the rest of her life.
The obvious silver lining for the "slave Leia" scenes was that she ends up strangling and killing Jabba with her own chains, making one of Leia's most badass moments. Not to mention the incredibly powerful imagery of seeing a slave turn the tables on their oppressor with such precision.  
When Fisher was asked who her favorite Star Wars character was during her Celebration Europe panel last summer, she responded in her usual hilarious and unpredictable manner: "Well, in the yes and no way, I like Jabba, because I like to kill him." We liked it when you killed him too, Carrie.

6. Face to face with Tarkin 

Leia is at the top of her game when Vader brings her to Grand Moff Tarkin on the Death Star bridge. With a strange, awkward British accent, she starts off with insulting Vader's "leash" and Tarkin's "foul stench." She's unfazed by the announcement of her imminent execution, and her recent torture hasn't diminished her confidence either. 
Even when Tarkin threatens the destruction of her home planet, Leia doesn't reveal the true location of the Rebel base; she knows that the Rebellion and what it stands for is ultimately more important than the millions of lives in the balance. And as seen in later scenes, the loss of her home and family doesn't impede her fighting spirit. 

5. Pep talk to Han

General Leia doesn't get any action in The Force Awakens, but her strength can still be found in the handful of scenes that she receives. When Han mopes about the loss of their son, Leia assures him that they can still save him, together. She gives him the courage he needs to confront Ben Solo on the catwalk on Starkiller Base, even if that emotional moment ends in Han's death. 
This scene best demonstrates Leia's optimism and determination, two of her most important qualities that have weathered the years. She doesn't give up on her son, and she probably never will. As her brief appearance in Rogue One told us, Leia's always had hope. 

4. Rescuing Luke

Luke isn't doing too well at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. He's lost a hand, just learned that his father is Darth Vader, and he's dangling off the edge of Cloud City with no tangible way of contacting his friends...until Leia senses him in the Force and tells Han to turn the Millennium Falcon around and go back for him. 
This is the first time that Leia's Force sensitivity is shown, or even hinted at. Her sudden discovery of this great power within her that she can use, despite her complete lack of training, is very similar to Rey's journey throughout The Force Awakens. When Yoda says "there is another" besides Luke who could destroy the Sith, there's no doubt as to whom he's referring.

3. Scruffy-looking nerf herder

Leia and Han's relationship throughout the better part of The Empire Strikes Back is oozing with romantic tension. On Echo Base, Han tells Chewie and Luke that she confessed her feelings for him earlier. Enraged, she lays down one of the best sci-fi insults of all time: "Why you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!"
When Han doesn't stop mocking her, she hits him with the ultimate blow: kissing Luke right in front of him, before wordlessly walking away. This scene is best known for its incestuous moment between the secret Skywalker twins, but it's just another example of when Leia was able to leave a group of men dumbfounded. Like Fisher herself, she had a sharp tongue and was full of surprises. 

2. "I know."

Leia and Han's most memorable exchange – her confession of "I love you" and his response of "I know" – was classic and iconic, but not the best indication of her character. Leia was forced to be the emotional, vulnerable woman, while Han was just the tough man.
In Return of the Jedi, Leia flips this moment on its head. She's wounded by a laser bolt and Han's cornered by two stormtroopers outside the Endor bunker. Leia then reveals to him the greatest sight a woman could show a man: her concealed blaster. He confesses his love and she smiles and replies with "I know," before shooting down the troopers with ease.
The reversal of their roles in this scene is a perfect example of how Han and Leia complemented each other as equals in their relationship. And the juxtaposition of Leia's loving smile and swift execution of the troopers shows how she was able to seamlessly fit the roles of both a warm romantic partner and a fierce warrior.

1. Saving everybody's skin on the Death Star

Strangely enough, Leia's rescue at the hands of two men is one of her most empowering scenes. Luke opens the door to her cell on the Death Star and she lays down some classic Leia sass with an iconic quote: "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?"
The heroes are soon pinned down in the corridor by a squad of stormtroopers, and Leia instantly distances herself from the typical damsel role by taking charge of her own rescue mission. She grabs Luke's blaster, blows open the garbage chute, and with a cry of "Somebody has to save our skins," fearlessly opens fire on the troopers before ordering Han to follow her into the chute.
Leia's intelligence and skill were never clearer than in the presence of the well-meaning but fairly incompetent men with whom she associated. For Padmé Amidala, Ahsoka Tano, Rey, Jyn Erso, and (hopefully) more to come, she set a precedent for fearless young women in Star Wars who aren't afraid to speak their minds and save the day just as much as any man. 

These were the scenes that defined Leia Organa, and to an extent, the last 40 years of Carrie Fisher's life. Her true sentiment about being permanently linked to this iconic character was unclear; she might have preferred that fans recognize her for her writing career and advocacy projects than her Star Wars role.
But after several decades of seeing herself merchandised in every possibly way – including a Princess Leia sex doll that she kept in her house – it seems that Fisher ultimately made her peace with the character. During her Celebration Europe panel, she explained that she had accepted her synonymy with Leia. "I am Leia, and Leia is me. Let’s call the whole thing off."

What's your favorite Princess Leia scene? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Significance of Darth Vader's Castle

Midway through Rogue One, it's casually revealed that Darth Vader has a castle on Mustafar where he seems to rest when he's not carrying out the Emperor's orders. It's the site of his dramatic introduction and subsequent meeting with Director Krennic. The film doesn't dwell on the castle in the slightest, but it could have some serious implications.
The concept of Vader's castle is hardly a new one. In the Expanded Universe, he has both a palace on Coruscant and Bast Castle on Vjun. As Rogue One showed, the canon version is on a much more personal location for the Sith Lord: the lava planet where he truly became Darth Vader after suffering horrific injuries at the blade of his best friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi. 
The fact that he would choose to regularly return to this site of pain and anguish suggests that this is a form of penance for him. In his bacta tank, Vader must meditate and reflect upon his past, especially his life-changing first visit to Mustafar many years ago. 
Would the folks over at Lucasfilm introduce this major detail to the Star Wars canon and then never go back to it again? Perhaps. But it seems likely that the brief appearance of Vader's castle in Rogue One is actually meant to set up a plot detail in Episode VIII next December.

Kylo Ren's obsession with Vader is no secret, and he would surely visit his grandfather's old sanctum if he had the chance. As a powerful source of Dark Side energy, it could be where Snoke finishes Kylo's training, as he promised at the end of The Force Awakens
In fact, concept art of Vader's castle next to a river of lava was seen in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (via Movieweb), confirming that there had been plans for it to appear in the Sequel Trilogy, even if it was going to be in a more frigid climate.
Returning to Mustafar in Episode VIII would also help to calm fans who were frustrated that The Force Awakens pretty much ignored all of the events and locations of the Prequel Trilogy. And it would be undeniably amazing to see another lightsaber duel on the volcanic terrain.

We can be sure that Vader's castle will return, one way or another. Star Wars Rebels mentioned that Mustafar is "where Jedi go to die," and the series has explored ancient Sith lore in the past, so we could very well see another Rogue One tie-in (the first being Saw Gerrera's reintroduction in this week's episode) in the form of a visit to Vader's castle in the future.
When do you think Vader's castle will reappear? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.