Star Wars, Nostalgia, and Creativity

So, okay, let’s be real for a hot second: I loved the new Star Wars movie. Even though I will forever be mad that I didn’t see it at midnight, I loved this movie with a passion. I can prove it to you too. I saw it the weekend it came out with some friends while I was still in Ann Arbor…then I saw it a week and a half later, with my best friend back in Houston. And then when my mom wanted to go see it, I told her we should go again. I saw this movie three times. And if you asked me to go this weekend I’d just ask what time?

I know this isn’t a minority opinion. I was honestly glad that I saw it opening weekend because that meant that I didn’t have to wait until Monday, when I was back in Houston, to read/watch/listen to/breathe any spoilers. I didn’t even rewatch the trailer before going to see it – the last time I’d seen the trailer was back in November, when it first came out, and a lot of finals had happened between then and the time I’d seen it. I wanted to come in with a fresh experience.

But even though I loved it, I’m not sure if that’s what I got. When we walked out of the theatre my friend pointed out how the plot was the same as the plot for A New Hope: they blew up a big gun. This sentiment was echoed in other posts I read, including a podcast (with major spoilers) by some of my favorite YouTubers, Funhaus, where James said he was reserving judgement on the new franchise as a whole for that very reason.

Nostalgia, ironically, isn’t an abstract concept anymore, but a business, and a booming one at that. People are shelling out money for reboots and sequels of their favorite shows and movies. And they do well, too, and the public goes crazy for them. One recent example that’s been all over the entertainment news sphere is the new Full House reboot on Netflix, duly named Fuller House.

In a blog post a couple of years ago, I wrote an open letter to Pixar about how excited I was for the second The Incredibles movie because, of course, I freaking love that movie, but also a wariness – Pixar has been devoting a lot of its time and resources to sequels that I don’t think merit the work put in. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted with this summer’s Inside Out, but they still have sequels slated for release in the coming years (Finding Dory, Toy Story 4, The Incredibles 2). Let’s just hope Inside Out doesn’t turn into Inside Out 2  in 2018.

I definitely think that J.J. Abrams made the right decision when it came to the plot. The original trilogy, as well as parts of the newer trilogy, are about archetypes, time, and the endless circle. It is, of course, a family story, and Abrams kept it that way, if only because he borrowed a lot from the original trilogy. I’m so excited to see where our new characters go – especially Finn and Rey – and I think the first movie did its job in setting them up for the next two movies.

But as a writer, and one that values creativity over her own fangirl instincts, I have to ask at what cost did he do it?

Don’t take this the wrong way – I saw the movie three times for crying out loud – and every time I love discovering something new that I didn’t notice before. But I also want to be openly, honestly critical of an already fantastic movie so that it can become an even better one that will go down forever in the pages of film history.

So while we not-so-patiently wait for the next movie, may the force be with you (or does the force not really work that way?).

A Talk About Sequel Seasons: VGHS Season 2 Review

So lately I’ve been on a very goal oriented mission to finish all the TV shows that I’ve started this year. Unfortunately, this number is a LOT higher than it should be due to the fact that, well, school. So even though I might have such good intentions, I inevitably end up falling short and dropping off in the middle of a season or even an episode.

This list of shows is including but not limited to: Sherlock season 3, Doctor Who Series 7 (Clara), New Girl season 3 (and finishing Season 1 because I technically never watched all the episodes???), Legend of Korra season 2, and Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.

Although this list shows how diverse and interesting my TV habits are, there’s something that most of them all have in common – they are all sequels.

And by sequels I don’t mean like a sequel movie, I mean a sequel series. Even though I’ve been waiting months (or even years in the case of Sherlock) to watch these shows, somehow….I just…haven’t.

Previously on the List of Things To Finish was the show Video Game High School Season 2. Last year, while taking flu medicine that wasn’t actually doing anything since my doctor misdiagnosed my infection, I ended up waking up early every day one week and yet not going to class, because, you know, infection. I didn’t miss much since I was in community college at the time, so instead of trying to do work I surfed Netflix for my new obsession.

And, as fate would have it, I stumbled upon Video Game High School, or VGHS. I thought, why not, I’ll give it a try, and ended up marathoning the entire show since Netflix had put each episode into one big movie. Instantly, I loved it. I’m not a gamer, and I’ll never be a gamer, but this show had great characters, interesting plot points, a fantastic, clever, and completely hilarious script, and a huge heart. Yes, VGHS was my new obsession. As you might guess, it’s about a high school that plays video games as its curriculum. The creators, YouTubers who are fairly famous around the internet (heard of Freddie Wong?), made this show both specific in its plot about gaming and yet accessible to anyone such as me who doesn’t even know the first thing about an FPS game.

So when I found out that there was a Kickstarter to fund a season 2, I was absolutely pumped. And, since I’m on this new finishing things streak, I decided to finish season 2 which had come out in early September.

While the characters are still the same, and still dynamic in their progression, and the script was both funny and witty, I was…dissatisfied with the end product. Majorly disappointed would actually be more accurate. I can’t say I didn’t like it, because I did enjoy watching the episodes, but it lost something this season.

Instead of sticking with the previous format of a show with a continuous plot that culminated to an exciting (and epic) finale, the creators opted to be more fluid with the layout of season 2. Each episode does build on the next, but in very small ways. There was no overarching theme or plot, and for the most part each problem presented was resolved within the episode, leaving the next one to pick up a new one. To me, it was Video Game Sitcom, not Video Game High School. The writing and characters are much more interesting, diverse, and funny than a sitcom, but the layout and plot were just so blah. I kept expecting something to pick up, especially since two great plot points were introduced at the very beginning in the first episode. However not one but both of these opportunities were wasted, and the season finale was so unsatisfying that I couldn’t believe that it was actually over. The creators even used a cliffhanger to draw in audiences (and give them an incentive to crowdsource their season 3 efforts), and honestly, I’m just disappointed.

Honestly, I mostly wanted to use this post this week to vent about my frustrations. There were so many good things about season 2 that I’m just really surprised that I’m so unsatisfied. But the sad thing is, there’s really nothing I can do. I’m not sure if I want a season 3 so that Freddie Wong and co. can redeem themselves, or if I just want to rewatch the golden entertainment that is VGHS. Either way, I’m coming to find out that sequel seasons can be amazing (Sherlock) – or they can be massive letdowns.

An Open Letter to Disney/Pixar



I know there was something I was going to write about for today’s blog – I’m for sure. But alas, as the week has worn on, I have forgotten. Lucky for me, a nice, juicy piece of news has fallen into my lap.

Today Disney announced that both the Incredibles and Cars have been slated for sequels.

Wait for it…yep. Disney is FINALLY making the Incredibles 2. Loud cheers can be heard from all across the internet.

In recent years, some of the older fans of Disney have been clamoring for an Incredibles 2, saying that the movie lends itself well to a sequel and yes the movie was that good and it deserves it.

However instead of the Incredibles we got Monsters University (which I still haven’t seen) and Cars 2 (which I hope never to see). And no one is going to mention the studio mess that was Planes. No one.

While I do have to admit I am one of those fans that is beyond thrilled, I do have to ask why. Why now, and why do a sequel?

It’s no secret that Pixar has a corner on the animation market. While other companies do put out fantastic and well received movies (think How To Train Your Dragon and Rise of the Guardians), it’s Pixar, and by extension Disney that everyone knows and recognizes. So why make sequels instead of the amazing, creative, original stories I’ve come to love?

I’ve noticed this trend and it’s become a bit frightening. Out of the 14 movies Pixar has made, 4 have been sequels, and this is another two slated for release on top of the forthcoming sequel? spinoff? related movie? Finding Dory. That will make seven movies that Pixar has made sequels. Coming from a studio that was built on creative and original storylines, that’s a lot more than I would expect.

While my inner fangirl screams at the idea of another Incredibles (one of the most underrated Pixar movies in my opinion), my brain wonders what is going to happen with this. And in another corner of my heart, I miss the old Pixar. I want another Merida. I want Marlin and Nemo’s adventure to stay what it was. I want another unlikely hero, a thrilling tale, clever comedy and a plot I can sink my teeth into. I want more boundary pushing. I want a full length film animated with 3D and 2D combined (it’s gorgeous and if you don’t believe me watch Paperman).

I want more than a sequel, and I want more than Disney pandering for my money out of brand loyalty or out of a love for something I cherished in the past. I know you’re capable of it Pixar, I’ve watched you do it for almost 20 years now. Demand that Disney let you tell your stories, and demand that the public appreciate them for their depth, sincerity, and pure genius that they are.