Heirs of the Force: The Lost Ones

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The Lost Ones is the third book in the Heirs of the Force series.

The twins are on vacation from their Jedi training, along with Lowbacca and Em Teedee. They plan to meet an old friend Zekk. When they start their adventure with Zekk, he takes them to a city on the lower level of Coruscant, where he starts to scavenge for various things, and explaining that is what he considers his job to be. . They head home, only to be confronted by a group of teenagers who call themselves the Lost Ones. They get away, and Jaina invites Zekk to a dinner that’s being held for a new ambassador. His alienation with the formal world shows at the banquet. He runs off, only for a strange woman to come up to him, asking him a few questions. She scans him with something, and has two men abduct him shortly after. Zekk comes to, and is greeted by Brakiss, who attempts to recruit him for his Shadow Academy.

Jacen and Jaina keep trying to contact Zekk, but continue to fail. Even Zekk’s roommate Peckhum does not know where he is and joins the search effort. Jacen and Tenel Ka go to search the Undercity for him again. They eventually find him giving a speech to Lost Ones, who have been subdued. One of Brakiss’ goons stuns the pair, and they awaken to find no trace of their friend or assumed enemy. Lowbacca and Jaina manage to relocate the base and try to send troops after the Academy, but the members manage to escape. However, they have left behind a pod containing a message.  The twins and their friends retrieve the message, in which Zekk explains his motives in wanting to be trained in the Shadow Academy.  His friends are devastated by his choice, but they don’t have much time to miss him. Shortly after, Luke takes them back into training, completely aware they’re in for a tough fight ahead.

To this day, I’m not quite sure what to think of this book in the series. The writing was good, Zekk was a great character, but while the story progressed steadily, it still managed to feel like it was dragging on. As a writer who doesn’t take kindly to stories that feel too long, I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the story completely for that last part. Once again, it’s worth a read, but more to keep up with the series’ continuity more than anything.

Parallel Universe/Time Travel Theories: Multiverse Theory

Recently, two friends and I got talking about differing Universes in Doctor Who, which led to one of the theories about time travel/space/relativity that people seemed split about. We talked about a bunch, but the one that we spent the most time on was the Parallel Universe/Multi-Universe Theory- the idea that the world is comprised of infinite universes based on choices/general outcomes alone. It’s one of the most popular and heard about theories- the one that relates to the question “What if…?” or “If I had/hadn’t done _____, what would’ve happened?”.  It’s a Hollywood favorite as well, spawning movies like Sliding Doors , Next and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, along with many TV shows. On a darker note, it’s also what comes from “survivors guilt” (“What would’ve happened if I got hurt/died instead of this person/these people?”) While I can’t exactly recall who said what, I can essentially draw out the example one friend and I used, which may help clear the theory up for those who don’t understand it.

When you have to choose between three things, going with one of the three choices creates three different universes.  Let’s take picking up various household objects into consideration  since that’s what my friend and I used to describe it. Let’s say You have a glass of soda, a TV remote, and a magazine in front of you. There are two different ways you can look at this/you’re already looking at two ways this situation could create parallel universes. .One,  just using the remote as the example, one universe is created where you don’t pick up the remote, but another is created where you if you do pick it up. Then comes the second way-  if you pick up the remote instead of the glass or the magazine, you create a different universe for choosing the remote over the other two, and another for choosing one of the others over the remote, and so on.

For fellow visual learners, take this into consideration. We’re about to revisit tree diagrams from middle school math class:
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Overall, the idea is that every little thing that happens, intentional or not, creates a new universe- you move one way, you hurt yourself, you turn one way on a two way street, you say something- your world is always splitting up into separate universes every moment as you go along. One could consider that as you’re reading this, there’s now another Universe going on outside of this one that  a) I never made this blog entry, and/or b) you never read this. Get it?

As a whole, the number of  multi-universe/parallel universe theories are near endless. I plan to continue describing more of them, as well as visiting those dreaded time travel theories, but I figured make what I assume is the simplest first.

Star Wars Day/ Young Jedi Knights: The Shadow Academy

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Being that I’m sure it’s all over whatever social media you all check out, I’ll spare you the big post on it and just say, “Happy Star Wars Day and may the 4th be with you!”

With that comes a review of the second book in the Heirs of the Force Series, called The Shadow Academy.

When Jacen, Jaine, Lobacca and Em Teedee are going on a tour around one of Lando’s space stations, they are kidnapped by Imperials. Luke hears what has happened and goes on a rescue mission, aided by Tenel Ka. They come across Tamith Kai, a woman who took part in the attack that the kidnapping resulted from. They find they’re on their way to the Shadow Academy, a place where they take students to train as Jedis who use the dark side of the force to the Imperial’s advantage. They get there and meet, Brakiss, one of Luke’s former students and the headmaster of the Shadow Academy. The friends are forced to part ways to their own cells. Luke and Tenel Ka eventually find a lead that brings them closer to finding the friends. Back with the others, Brakiss and Tamith Kai try to get the siblings and  their fellow prisoners to use the dark side of the force, but they hold up, leading to them being split between the teachers for lessons. Brakiss attempts to sway the siblings by giving them what they want, ie a lightsaber, but once again, the attempts fail and the siblings are more focused on trying to be reunited.

Elsewhere, Qorl, the pilot who put the twins and their friends in danger in Heirs of the Force is revealed to be responsible for the kidnaping. He and Brakiss work up a plan to make the twins fight each other, and succeed for a while, much to the twins’ dismay once the plan is revealed.

Tamith Kai finds Lobacca’s weak point with his temper and manipulates him into using that to tap into the dark side. Lobacca does so against his will and  Tamith Kai returns Em Teedee  as a reward, only to have Lobacca find out the droid has been reprogrammed to be loyal to the Empire. Luke and Tenel Ka finally succeed in getting a reliable ride to the Shadow Academy. They arrive.

Jacen works out a plan of escape and the twins and Lobacca go through with it, taking Em Teedee along, but an alarm is raised and tipped off Qorl, Brakiss and Tamith Kai of the attempt.  The ship Luke and Tenel Ka are on picks them up, and they attempt to leave, only to be stopped by storm troopers, Brakiss and Tamith Kai. After a short fight, Qorl tires of the action and lets them go.

They arrive home and start making minor repairs on the ship Luke and Tenel Ka did the rescue on, since they figure having it would be useful. Jacen insists he’s not ready to have a lightsaber of his own yet based on the trouble he went through and how he handled it, but  Luke insists that Jacen might be wrong if Brakiss continues his own plan of destroying them with the fevor he showed before.

Overall, this was one of the few forgettable books of the series. Just flipping through it and looking over some other synopses, I barely could remember sitting down and reading it around ten years ago like I do with a handful of the others. It’s essential for continuity with the storyline, but I feel that’s as far as it goes.

Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Heirs of the Force

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When it comes to the Star Wars: Extended Universe, I’ve always been partial to The Young Jedi Knights series, focusing on the next generation of the heroes from the original series, as well as their friends. The stories follow Han and Leia’s twins, Jacen and Jaina, along with their friends Tenel-Ka and Lobacca, their cousin Ben Skywalker, Luke’s son with a woman by the name of Mara Jade, and other various people along the way. I en joy this bunch the most because I already felt emotionally attached to these characters immediately because I loved the former generation so much. The series is straightforward and made what would eventually end up being a cliché storyline a success that I didn’t mind it being cliché at all. If anything, it fit the series well.

The twins have been training to be Jedi for a month. A new recruit, Chewie’s nephew Lobacca comes across a T-23 ship and he, the twins, and Tenel-Ka go to investigate. They eventually find it and toy with it, along with the wreckage of a TIE fighter. They remain oblivious that the fighter’s pilot, Qorl, is watching then. The man’s been trapped there for years and is bent on being able to return to the civilized world to destroy the rebellion. Jacen puts the pieces of that mystery together too late, because Qorl takes them hostage moments after Jacen tries to warn his friends. Lowbacca  and Tenel-Ka escape, and the former  tries to free them, but fails. He still gets away and goes to inform Han and Leia of the situation. Meanwhile, Qorl take Jacen and Jaina to his home. They catch him up on the twenty odd years he has missed. He insists they repair his ship so he can still return to the Empire. They do and he takes off on the ship with every intention to destroy the Jedi academy. The twins are left behind. Han and Chewie arrive for a rescue mission with Lowbacca and Tenel-Ka in tow. They pick up the twins, but the threat that Qorl is on his mission still looms in the air.

The first few books in the Young Jedi Knight is geared towards children and young adults, so it’s a simplistic, easy read. It’s worth it, as well. Even if you just want to meet most of the characters to see what happened after the original series, it’s fun, and takes no time at all. This is one of my favorites in the bunch just because of the nostalgia it caused me as a kid, and it will probably have the same effect on most Star Wars fans.

JJ Abrams and Star Wars

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Ever since the announcement of the new Star Wars movie being put into the works, the Star Wars fanbase has been up in arms about various things. Some don’t want it to exist after hating the newer trilogy. Others don’t want it to exist because JJ Abrams has  directing rights to it and they’re worried he’ll ruin it. Others are more open to the movie, and then are more curious about the storyline more than anything.

Some of the most popular ideas for the plot of the new movie(s) involve a reboot of the whole thing, which most aren’t fond of, a continuation of the storyline/ a “Where are they now?” kind of thing that seems to have fans divided, or making a movie out of the Extended Universe, like Jacen and Jaina Solo’s story, which fans seem to be most open to.

I personally trust Abrams with the Star Wars Universe. I adore Lost, Person of Interest, the latest Mission Impossible and Fringe, so I doubt I’ll be disappointed with whatever outcome the movies have.  Even with his Star Trek, I was skeptical like many others, but most of us ended up impressed or at least happy with how that turned out.  Out of the three choices above  I’d would like to see him do something with the Extended Universe. Yes, he does a lot of lens flares in his films or shows. Yes, the action may be a little much at times.Yes, he already has Star Wars. I trust him a heck of a lot more with it then some of the people he beat to get it. Take Ben Affleck- the guy’s a much better director than he is an actor, but I doubt Star Wars would’ve been a decent choice for him- in genre, at least.

Overall, my biggest complaint is having Benedict Cumberbatch play the main villain. It’s getting a tad old seeing him everywhere, so I feel like it was just a move to get more money and fangirls to watch it, but I’m willing to give him a chance for this. If Abrams used the same casting people as he’s done for previous projects, chances are I may end up pleasantly surprised.

So, what are some of your gripes, if any with the reboot? Disagree about Abrams? Agree? Don’t want to have another classic get another bad set of movies to follow it up?  Let’s hear ’em.

Olympus Has Fallen: Review

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Gerard Butler is in it- Check.        There are explosions- Check.                                  Is the hero a sarcastic little bastard- Check.

The above usually qualifies as part of my “Must See Movie” checklist. So, the second I saw Olympus Has Fallen’s trailer, I knew I had to see it. But, like most people, I was fairly skeptical about it, since it did look terrible and cheesy at the same time. I went to see it anyway, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The trailer gives all the plot details you need to know- a terrorist organization launches the biggest attack on Washington DC in history. They end up wiping out most of the area itself, some of the police/military force, as well as the entirety of the Secret Service. That leaves one man- Mike Banning, an ex-secret service agent who left after failing to save the first lady from a fatal car crash. As someone who cared strongly for the president and his son, he fights his way in to continue his job and save the President and his son, even if he dies trying.

The last half of the movie’s opening twenty minutes was perhaps the biggest thrill ride of the movie. Not because of all the violence or action in general, but because of the connection that all Americans have to it, because of that terror we faced on 9/11. The movie essentially forces you to flash back to watching your television, seeing the Twin Towers down, the destruction Pentagon , remains of United 93, and “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” (quoted several times in this movie’s storyline, no less). Because of that, you’re aware that (God forbid that it ever does) the attack that the movie has could happen, and that’s terrifying to anyone. My stomach was turning throughout that entire segment. With all that said- the special effects people took all that damage and increased it tenfold. The terrorists destroy D.C and its people to the point that the carnage rivals that of Independence Day– yeah, the one where the aliens blow up D.C- except there’s more blood and dead bodies scattered around in this case.

The rest of the movie takes less of an emotional toll, but keeps you on the edge of your seat just as much. It let you get into the action and suspense of Banning’s trek through the White House to the point where your jaw is down for most of the movie up until the ending.

The characters were likeable enough for your standard “Yeah, America!” movie. Banning (Gerard Butler) was a wise-cracking, sarcastic, doesn’t-take-any-crap kind of guy- someone you really wouldn’t want the President’s life in the hands of, but hey, it’s Hollywood, so why not? Even the President (Aaron Eckhart) and members of the cabinet were likeable enough with their “not going to cave in and give to Evil’s demands, even if it kills me” attitudes. As another little aside- it was really refreshing to see Gerard Butler back in an action role. They suit him more compared to the romantic comedies he’s been in, and it definitely shows in his performance.

Of course, as expected, there were some really bad spots.  There were painfully cliché plot points here and there. The political stuff/foreign policy issues were inevitable with a storyline like this, but it still got too obnoxious for my liking a few times. Suspension of Disbelief has to be your best friend with this movie. Characters do stunts that they would never survive,and the lead terrorist has ninja skills at one point. Overall, they’re just your typical action movie tropes. Also, the ending is a bit too cheesy for my liking. I won’t give away too much, but… it earns a laugh or a scoff. Maybe even both.

Overall, I’d say go see this. Don’t go expecting a masterpiece, but it’s worth it for the entertainment value and the thrill ride.  If I had to do a rating out of ten: a 7.5/10.

The Heroes of the Original Star Wars Trilogy, and What Makes Them Who They Are

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Luke Skywalker: The main hero of the orIginal trilogy. It’s hard not to like him. He’s the character the audience relates to the most, since he’s an innocent young man thrown headlong into this fantastical situation with absolutely no idea what’s going on. As the son of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, he, along with Leia, was pretty much destined to end up in the whole situation brought up. Not only that, he refuses to give up on his journey of finding Obi-Wan, becoming a Jedi, and protecting his friends.

Han Solo: The most useful sidekick in movie history and a hero in his own right. He’s one of the guys that you would want on your zombie apocalypse team. Throughout the movies, he’s constantly getting Luke out of losing battles, albeit life-threatening or not. He solves problems by shooting first and asking questions later. Even has Han’s pursued by crime lords, he He’s half of one of geekdom’s favorite power couples.

Leia Organa: The other half of said couple. Leia’s all you could ever want in a princess. Despite all the odds that are against her throughout her storyline, she rolls with the punches and keeps going.  She maintains her political duties, but at the same time, she’s a decent fighter who’s just as good as the men. She doesn’t let anyone put her down. When someone sasses her, she gives as good as she gets.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Being in the Jedi business for many years, he’s Luke’s mentor who gets them out of several dire situations. Next to Yoda, he seems to be the second smartest in the bunch, and it shows. Who can complain when he’s an old man kicking butt and taking names, usually just with a wave of his hand? When he made the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends, characters and the audience alike felt it.

Yoda: The most powerful Jedi, and Luke’s second mentor. He’s another one that you wouldn’t want to cross. He’s a lot of power in a small body. Yoda keeps Luke driven to succeed in becoming a jedi, and usually has something philosophical to counter Luke’s protests. At this rate, who doesn’t know the phrase “Do or do not, there is no try”, even if they’re not Star Wars fans? Not many, I can tell you that.

R2-D2 and C3-PO: Some might complain that the droids made this list, but the way I see it, at least R2 provides some thrilling heroics via hacking into computers to save the humans. Together, the pair also provide some breaks in the action with comic relief that usually starts with one of them sassing the other. Sure, 3PO causes a lot more trouble than he helps his friends, but the movie still doesn’t seem like it would be the same without either of them. You have to admit they’re not as annoying as Jar-Jar, to say the least.

Return of the Jedi

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Return of the Jedi is the last part of the original Star Wars trilogy. While it’s considered the least favorite by some fans, it’s also the one that seems to get the most complaints about its re-release with new CGI, scenes, and the like, between the CGI ships, or the most widely-protested, Hayden Christensen being put into the final scene as Anakin’s ghost, rather than Sebastian Shaw.

The Crawl describes that, one year after the events of Empire, Luke has gone back to Tatooine to rescue Han from Jabba. The Empire has started to build a new Death Star…

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Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back

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The saga continues three years after the events of A New Hope, and a crawl catches the audience up- the Death Star’s been destroyed, but the Imperials have pulled off several victories in the fight against the Rebels.  Luke and the others have set up a new base on the planet Hoth, but Vader is hot on his heels. The action begins as Luke rides up onto a hill on a tauntan…

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Star Wars: A New Hope

The original series of Star Wars paved the way for most sci-fi films of the time, both in the way the story was told, as well as the CGI used by ILM. Even most of the main characters have inspired different character archetypes over time. Even most of the minds involved had no clue that Star Wars would reach the success it did, but were, of course, pleasantly surprised.

Star Wars: A New Hope is where it all began a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…
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