The Star Wars Holiday Special …Is it really that bad?

Is it really that bad?

Yes. Yes it is. With a few moments that were faintly amusing.

Created using the real-to-goodness original cast of Star Wars from A New Hope, The Star Wars Holiday Special was an earnest  1978 TV movie featuring awful production values, clearly stoned actors, and some really cracked-out looking Wookiees. Really, no wonder Chewbacca spends his whole life with Han instead of Itchy and Lumpy. (REAL NAMES. Holy hell George Lucas, were you high too?)

How did they get Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford to do this? (Besides paychecks.) It’s so bad even Lucas is quoted as wanting to take a hammer to every copy of The Star Wars Holiday Special and smash them into oblivion. Good thing You Tube exists to thwart him. Bwahaha!

Viewing this is a Geek Rite of Passage that I need to attend to. Okay, I’m starting it now. So far, it’s got a crazy narrative opening crawl titling it Star Wars Episode IV 1/2.

Yes. 4.5: Does this make it canon?

Can I watch The Star Wars Holiday Special sober and review it for RunPee? Let’s find out.

Instead of making a really great cohesive article, I’m going to just jot comments as I go. I don’t want to work harder at this than I have to. As Threepio famously says, “We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life.”

Want to join me in the fun? Start ‘er up here, until Lucas finds and destroys this version. Then just search for another. It’s like playing Whack A Mole. Thank the Maker for the Internet!

Notes from the infamously terrible Star Wars Holiday Special, done by points because Math Is Fun:

Settle in. The Special is an hour and half long. MOVIE LENGTH, folks. I might need The Force to get through it. I have a bad feeling about this -1

Life Day sounds cool. It’s a Wookiee thing that’s hugely important to Chewbacca’s family. We never hear about it again. Now that Rise of Skywalker is finished, maybe Chewie will go back home. +1

The matte screen of the Wookiee home world Kashyyyk is fake looking, but very pretty. I’d live in these luxurious Air BnB tree houses. +1 point.

Star Wars Starfighter merch! Luke isn’t the only one to play with toys. Wookiees do too. +1

Why are the first 20 minutes filmed in grunts and roars with no subtitles? I know in-universe everyone speaks Wookiee, but in our viewing galaxy, this is a bizarre choice. -1

Poor Ms. Chewbacca. She’s crying as she holds a photo of her husband. Chewie is an absentee father, ya’ll. No wonder he didn’t earn a medal. -1

Neat 70s decor in the Chewbacca homestead, though. +1

The little kid and old man Wookiees. These are some weird looking Walking Carpets, but they’re still cooler than Ewoks. +1

I thought we were going to see a call-back of the awesome Holographic Chess Game from the Millennium Falcon, but it turned out to be something…inexplicable. Sea Monkeys in space? This goes on and on. Holy hell. A good Peetime. -1

A transmission from Luke! Fiddling with R2-D2! Actual speaking lines! +1

When did Luke learn Wookiee? He also understands R2’s Binary language. Okay,  I don’t care. (No points awarded either way means it’s a neutral comment.)

I think Mark Hamill is wearing eyeliner. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

AHA! Chewie goes to Life Day annually! So…he visits his family once a year. Lame. -1

R2 is still da Droid. +1

And now for a transmission  with Imperial Officers at a Galactic Trading Post. This is promising. +1

I actually like the Pocket Sized Aquarium. But why is this here? +1 anyway.

Plot development….and the line about doing it by “Han(d), Solo” was cool. Maybe this won’t be so bad .+1

Star Destroyers! And Vader. +1

WTF. Okay, back to home life on Kashyyyk. This is where the truly weird stuff happens. Why is there a cross-dressing cooking show? Again, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  At least we learn how to create a savory Bantha rump stew. Move along, move along. -1

Outrunning Tie Fighters is good. Harrison Ford looks like he’s trying to make his scenes work. Poor guy. No wonder Ford wanted to kill off Han. +1

The trader shows up at House ‘Bacca. More plot!  +1

Whoohoo! We survived the first half hour, relatively unscathed.

Wait. What? Wookiee VR porn? For ten minutes! I’m no longer unscathed. Delete ten points for this shit. -10

A transmission from Leia and C-3P0. But not even the makeup on Carrie can hide that’s she’s totally not sober. -1

Stormtroopers. Not too bad a scene, considering. And the trader provides some understandable translation from the endless grunts and roars. He’s not as funny as he thinks, though. I’ve seen better fan films.

The evil Imperial agent watching Jefferson Starship. A ten-minute Jefferson freaking Starship video in the middle of this movie. I’m seriously confused. -1

The kid — Lumpy? Or Itchy? — sits down for some more inexplicable TV watching. Is all this filler, or did someone decide half of the show should feature non-sequiturs? …But wait: it’s the Boba Fett cartoon show! It’s got Han, R2, Admiral Ackbar,  and all the regular OT gang in it. It’s probably the best segment of the Holiday Special.  I’m almost okay with this, but why is Chewbacca’s son watching a show where ‘real people’– including his father — are ‘acting’ in it? I don’t understand, but this somewhat awesome viewing. There’s even a Y-Wing Starfighter. +1

(I’ve decided the cartoon-within-the-show was an excuse to run an animated show they already halfway produced and didn’t know what else to do with.)

And what is it about Star Wars and lava?

I hate to say this, but after seeing Season One of The Mandalorian, the Boba Fett cartoon explains some apparent Easter Eggs. Also Fett rides a dinosaur. Again, is any of this considered canon? +1

There’s a Starlog Update in the Boba Fett show! Was Lucas a Star Trek fan ? It made me smile anyway. Too bad they never did more of these Boba Fett cartoons. It’s so much better than many of the live action movies. +1

Back to Wookiee grunts and moans: the actual plot. -1

One Hour has passed…40 more minutes to go. Sigh.

 

YAY — the Wookiee child watches yet another weird-ass show on the Galactic Internet. I think it’s a toy instruction manual, like what you can find on You Tube. With dumb humor. And it never ends. -1

A new scene from Mos Eisley: it’s the Cantina Band! I don’t mind if this is just extra footage they wanted to use, but enough already. Apparently all they do on Wookiee World is watch TV. Maybe it’s a meta commentary about the internet, from before the internet. Well, actually, I doubt it. The Holiday Special isn’t clever enough for that.

The Cantina stuff is totally unused footage from A New Hope. Even aliens like the Hammerhead are in it. I’ll just enjoy it as a Star Wars deleted scene. +1

Oops: spoke too soon. There’s more footage from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and It. Is. Bad. There’s also a Golden Girl in it. Don’t make me describe this  anymore. Delete ten more points. -10

Ooh, is that blue milk? Nah, beige milk. What a missed opportunity. -1

Are we done yet?

I’m understanding why I never watched The Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s really, super, uber, astoundingly weird. Weird can be good if done right (see Farscape), but this is just a hot mess. There’s a romance between the Golden Girl and a man who pours drinks in a HOLE IN HIS HEAD. -1

Turns out Head Hole Guy (played by Harvey Korman) is a six fingered man. I’d give this ten bonus points if I was sure it was an homage to The Princess Bride, but I seriously doubt that. -1

The  Cantina ‘romance’ is so awkward that I miss watching the damn Wookiee porn. I don’t know what this is here for. Was it intended to be a pilot episode for a continuing Star Wars rom-com? Am I overthinking this? -1

And now there’s Bea Arthur singing a Star Wars version of Semisonic’s  Closing Time. Make it stop, please. -1

Bringing it home for the holidays

15 more minutes. I can do this. I’m totally a (storm) trooper.

Child abuse. -1

Chewie and Han made it home! Harrison Ford is still acting, unlike everyone else, who’s clearly given up. +1

I THINK I JUST HEARD A WILHELM SCREAM! Plus ten for unexpected awesomeness! +10

Awww. And now for the feels. I could watch Han Solo do anything, really, even if it’s just giving hugs to groaning Wookiees. +1

Peter Mayhew really deserved better than this. And Chewbacca, but at least he finally got his medal in Rise of Skywalker. Oh, spoiler. Sorry about that.

Chewie’s bowcaster! +1

Wookiees kissing! -1

Plot. +1

The dead Stormtrooper is named 7-11. I really wish I knew if that was an intentional joke, or just randomness.

LIFE DAY! Finally. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s get those red robes on so Carrie Fisher can sing and end this thing. The opening crawl promised us a singing princess.

The denoument: magic candles, Wookiees walking in space/walking into a star, what the holy Force hell? Just when I figured the stupid was done. -1

Suddenly, C-3P0 and R2 appear to share tidings of comfort and joy. It’s fine. Everyone shows up. We’re almost finished. +1

The Princess says sappy things. “This is the promise of the tree of life.” What? Is that a reference to the Jedi tree on Ach-To somehow? Whatever. Fisher isn’t a bad singer.

Cue a random montage from A New Hope. -1.

Small heartwarming epilogue. +1

Credits. As with (almost) every Star Wars film, there are no extra scenes.

And… It’s over. Happy Life Day!

I did it! I finally watched this train-wreck! Ten Points to Gryffindor House. Oh wait: wrong saga. I hope you appreciate that I watched this for you so you don’t have to. 😉

Overall, I wish I could say this was a parody. But it’s not funny enough to matter. Or sensible enough. Yes, even parodies can be high quality and brilliant on their own. Take a look at Troops, a riff on Cops (with Stormtroopers). This isn’t anything like that. At least there weren’t any Death Stars.

Movie Grade, using Star Wars Math: +33 points, and -31 points…leaving The Star Wars Holiday Special with a surprisingly positive total of 2 points. That’s a lot better than I actually expected, saving it from a total Fail.

Let’s give this a D- for effort.


Maybe I’ll find the two Ewok TV specials to review next, because I’m an  idiot completist. 

Here’s the 1985 trailer for The Battle of Endor, also officially made by Lucasfilm. A better title: Ewoks — Still Better Than Jar Jar Binks.

Another time, perhaps. 

Star Wars – Top Seven Reasons to Watch The Mandalorian Now (No spoilers)

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

Two Must See Science Fiction Spoof Film Documentaries (plus: the most ‘inconceivable’ parody of a spoof)

Critic Movie Reviews v RunPee Family Reviews

RunPee FamilyNot having professional or writer-educated staff (besides First Officer/COO Jill Florio, who was a journalist and magazine editor back when people still had real jobs), RunPee’s reviews are written from the heart, and are hopefully more useful than what we get from the well-paid critics of Rotten Tomatoes…  Because we send RunPee family members who are actual fans of the genre to get Peetimes and review them.

RunPee Reviews? What Peeps See What?

jill florio
RunPee Jilly likes blockbusters. She fully admits she has tentpole tastes and is not ashamed.

So we have Jill and Dan on sci-fi, fantasysuperhero, and action films; RunPee Sis on horror and comedies; RunPee Mom on animation, childrens’ films, dramas, and historicals; with Dana and Shani on miscellaneous flicks of their choice.

Of course we “RunPeeps” have interest overlap, and don’t always get our first movie choice. Sometimes one of us has to view a film we dislike (or even hate), or is totally out of our expertise to comment on — for example, don’t ask me to see War films, unless it’s Star Wars (or 1917, which rocked!).

We see hundreds of movies a year; life happens. We try our best. We try to keep off-interest assignments down.

chewbacca
Chewie is happy with most movies, if his family is any indication in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

RunPee has superior movie reviews!

What makes our movie reviews better is that a typical critic sees every movie willy-nilly and aren’t necessarily fans of each genre. So if they cordially dislike Sci Fi or superhero films, they will piss on them (to use a “Pee” reference) in their reviews. They DON’T GET THEM. We do. We try to make this inequality right.

This element explains the frequent discrepancy between Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Scores and Audience Scores. Sometimes the numbers variance is huge and seemingly inexplicable. It’s not that Critics are stupid — these are often very educated people — but each critic is not going to appreciate every type of film. They can’t. Could you?

jumanji-game-box
Would you play this game? Seriously. Like, ever?

Critics often grade/rate genre films as if they were the bastard stepchildren of serious dramas. And that’s just wrong. At least, it’s not helpful to die-hard (or at least emergent) genre fans. If you loved, say, Jumanji 2, you should review Jumanji 3, because a built-in fan will have better opinions of its relative worth in the series than someone who didn’t appreciate the first two. If you are a Harry Potter fan who’s read the books, you’ll review it better than a casual fan who doesn’t know what Expelliarmus means. Savvy?

(Ten points if you get the franchise where savvy is a thing!)

To sum up why our reviews are better 😉

We also don’t waste your time merely recapping a movie. You can get the basics from the IMDb and the trailers. We offer our honest insights instead.

RunPee co-founder and CEO Dan says it best, “Our reviews resonate with people because we generally review movies in our favorite genres. The last thing I ever want to read is a review of a Marvel movie by some snooty movie critic. If you’re not a fan of the genre you’re writing about, then how can you expect to write something meaningful?”

You do know RunPee writes reviews, right? Check them out on our blog here or do a search on RunPee.com

Types of Peetimes: recommended, emergency, alert

Why do I only see old movies in the Movie List?

RunPee Family

 

The Seven Droids We Love from Star Wars (and what exactly they do)

We love our Star Wars Droids, big and little, especially when they are funny or maybe cute. Moreso when they are funny AND cute — like R2-D2 and BB-8. Every live-action Star Wars movie (plus The Mandalorian) has at least one memorable Droid character tagging along with their human owners.

(Yes, Droids are considered property. This uncomfortable issue about agency and consent rarely comes up in Star Wars.)

Can you name the “Big Seven” Droids we know and love? Do you know what they were created to do? 

First things first. Why are they called Droids?

Unknown. There aren’t any androids in Star Wars. Androids are AI robot machines with flesh on the outside, like a Terminator, or Data from Star Trek…so what exactly are Droids? Every single one is in reality a plain old robot with AI (artificial intelligence) and some degree of EI (emotional intelligence). We never wonder about this. So…go with it. George Lucas must have liked the sound of the word.

Let’s discuss each main Droid with no further ado.

Note: Spoilers follow for all live-action Star Wars films and The Mandalorian

1. C-3P0

Protocol Droid, Human-Cyborg Relations

Job: Language Interpreter and Diplomatic Adviser, Ewok God

Owned By: Anakin Skywalker (his creator), Padme Amidala, Captain Antilles, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and finally, the Rebels/Resistance in general.

Seen In: Every Star Wars film but Solo. (Also, not in The Mandalorian.)

Notable: Knows Bocchi and 6 million other forms of communication. Not permitted to speak Sith by Senate decree. (We assume Palpatine made this law to keep Jedi out of Sith business.)

There are no true Cyborgs in Star Wars, unless you count Lando’s assistant on Bespin in the Empire Strikes Back. Also, those slaves in Solo who had their faces and brains shaved off and replaced with what I assume is a hard drive. This is too awful to contemplate, so let’s move on.

I’m case you didn’t know, a Cyborg is a human with augmented MI (machine intelligence).

So why does Threepio keep saying Human-Cyborg relations?

2. R2-D2

Astromech

Job: General assistant and on-board flight mechanic for StarFighters.

Owned By: Padme, Anakin, Captain Antilles, Luke, and possibly Rey.

Seen In: Like C-3P0, every Star Wars film but Solo. (And The Mandalorian, right.)

Noteable: R2 is scrappy, spirited, opinionated, friendly, and helpful. He holds the distinction of having never been mind-wiped in the entire series. Only speaks Binary. Counterpart and companion to C-3P0.

3. BB-8

Upgraded Astromech

Job: General assistant and on-board flight mechanic for StarFighters.

Seen In: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker

Owned By: Poe Dameron. He seems to share him with Rey at the end, but it’s made clear BB-8 belongs to Poe.

Notable: Actually cuter than R2-D2, but not as wise. Only speaks Binary. He seems to enjoy physical affection from his humans.

4. D-O

To sell cute toys and merchandise.

Does anyone know what this Droid is for? Seriously, this is all the information that even the Wookieepedia could find. If they don’t know what D-O is for, no one does. Feel free to make it up yourself.

Job: ?? He gets plugged in for information sharing at one point by the members of the Resistance, once he learns to trust them.

Seen In:  Rise of Skywalker

Owned By: Ochi, Rey.

Notable: The smallest droid in the ‘verse, it’s entirely unclear what he does or why Ochi (A dangerous Sith Assassin) needed him. Abused in the past. Rey shows him compassion when he joins the new crew. Also, he speaks Galactic Basic in addition to Binary.

5. L3-37

Navigational Droid, self-made from astromech and protocol parts

Job: Programs ships for Hyperspace lightspeed jumps. Droid Freedom Fighter. Possible lover to Lando. And why not? As she says, “it works.”

Seen In: Solo

Owned By: Lando Calrissian. Mental unit later absorbed into the navigational systems of the Millennium Falcon.

Notable: The only Droid self-identifying as female in Star Wars.  Cares deeply about Droid rights. Frees the enslaved mining Droids on the Spice Planet of Kessel.

6. K-2S0

Imperial Security Droid

Job: Murder, mainly

Seen In: Rogue One

Owned By: The Empire, Cassian Andor

Notable: Extremely funny yet sociopathic buddy to Cassian.

7. IG-11 (AKA IG-88 for detail sticklers)

Bounty Hunter/Assassin

Job: Hunt and capture or kill targets for dubious clients.

Seen In: Briefly in The Empire Strikes Back, and several times in The Mandalorian.

Owned By: Not clear — the Bounty Hunters Guild? Eventually reprogrammed by the compassionate Ugnaught Kuiil, and assigned to Baby Yoda.

Notable: Bounty Hunter-turned Nanny Droid? A lethal fighting machine with a snuggly baby-carrier on-board? Yes!

Other Droids seen and sometimes heard:

Diagnostic Droid (A New Hope – talks Binary to Han on the roof of the Falcon in the Tatooine Landing Bay)

Mouse Droid (A New Hope: the tiny one that runs when Chewie roars at him on the Death Star. This makes Chewie very satisfied.)

The Gonk (A New Hope, Return of the Jedi)

Torture Droid (Return of the Jedi, at Jabba’s Palace)

 

Imperial Probe Droid (On Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back)

Surgical Droid (Heals Luke twice, in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi)

Imperial Interrogation Droid (A New Hope, in Leia’s prison cell)

All the unnamed Droids seen in the Jawa Transport Crawler (A New Hope — see above video)

Pit Droids (the weird little things in Watto’s workshop in The Phantom Menace)

And, finally, the Droids we really, really hate:

Too many ridiculous Soldier/Battle Droids (From the Prequels, especially The Phantom Menace)

Ultimately, there’s a whole Galaxy of other Droids seen in Star Wars. Tell me who I missed in the comments below.


Who appears in every Star Wars movie?

Star Wars – Every Force Ghost Heard in Rise of Skywalker

Every Type of Starship and Starfighter in Star Wars, Explained

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker in 4D

4d-rdx-poster
They actually don’t allow you to sit in other people’s laps at these things.

Somehow at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con I scored a free Regal Cinemas 4D movie ticket, handed to me by Dan Fogelberg — Jacob Kowalski himself — from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I decided the best possible use of this golden ticket was a 4D showing of Rise of Skywalker, the finale of the  Skywalker Star Wars Saga. I couldn’t think of a better use of this expensive freebie besides a Fantastic Beasts film (which wouldn’t come out soon before the ticket expired). So, I’m about to see my very first 4D movie excursion right now at the Regal Edwards Cinema in Mira Mesa, CA. (That’s in Northern San Diego.)

Spoilers start for Rise of Skywalker. I have to be specific, or not bother writing it up at all. 

entrance-rdx-4d
Welcome to the 4D chamber of delights. Or torture chamber. There’s some overlap.

Okay, I’m back. Here’s what I have to say about the 4D 3D D-Box experience for Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker

Good things, mostly:

The 3D was clear and worked well with the 4D story nods. Worth paying for both together if you’re going to bother with the extra expense.

The vibration feature was effective. This was probably the most effective element in the Rise of Skywalker‘s 4D version.

The wind feature helped set the mood well.

Temperature changes: I felt chilly a few times, but I’m not sure if it was just the wind feature in action. But this is supposed to happen. There probably should have been a few heat scenes during the fights.

Strobe lighting: A few times this worked, but it got distracting after the first few times. Mostly used in lightsaver scenes and anything with Palpatine. I think if you’re an epilectic you’ll want to NOT see Rise of Skywalker in 4D.

The seats rocked and bucked and yawed in tune with the spaceship action. But you stop noticing after a few times, and maybe this could have been done better. Or maybe they didn’t want people vomiting in their chairs. It felt like those old Star Tours rides at Disneyland, but without needing seat belts. I would have preferred more flying action AND seat belts.

Each lightsaber stab gave me an actual poke in the back, in different locations that loosely matched the movie fighting. More or less.

Some water mist on the ruined Death Star scenes were okay. Not enough, though. You are able to turn off the waterworks option on your seat console, so why not do this right for those who wanted it? More was needed. I barely noticed.

Smoke. Although it felt a little gratuitous since this wasn’t really that kind of film.

Scent: Um…a few times I smelt burnt rubber and that was it.

Overrated Things: 

Well, all of it, really, It still felt like they were trying too hard, and the few additions weren’t amazing enough to put me into the action. The effects got gratuitously repetitive, too.  It felt more like, “Oh, hey, they added a thing here. Now stop it.”

Oh, and if you get motion sickness easily, or have other health problems, don’t see RDX 4D motion movies.

There’s a long list of health warnings! 

4D-health-warnings
Look it up online if you’re unsure 4D is healthy for you.

 

Ultimately: should you shell out money for Star Wars in 4D?

Overall: 4D is still a cash grabbing gimmick. It’s fun to do for the occasional film (a RunPee fan told us it’s superb for Ford v Ferrari, and you can feel each gear shift and corner turn), but for Star Wars it was…meh?

I’d wait for the tech to improve before paying $25 for the experience. Do it once at a movie you’re excited about, and see if you’re willing to do it again.

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

Star Wars – Every Force Ghost Voice Cameo in Rise of Skywalker

star wars force ghosts anakin yoda obi-wan
Force Ghost Busting.

Are you a huge Star Wars fan? I think Rise of Skywalker puts me — a die hard science fiction fan — to shame.  Can you place every Force Ghost voice we hear mentally chatting to Rey in the climactic and emotional Skywalker Saga finale?

 Spoilers follow for Rise of Skywalker. This should be obvious. 😉

When Rey asks her Jedi fan club to Be With Her, we finally hear them. It’s great fun to tease out each voice, and some of these callbacks were just thrilling. Who are all these Jedi voice cameos? Could you name them all?

In my first #RoS viewing, the lights came up as soon as the credits rolled, and I missed something crucial: each Force Ghost voice was listed by character and actor in its own section. So I missed that. In my second viewing (in 4D!), I saw this little list scroll by about two minutes after the credits began. It’s not an Extra Scene, but it’s worth waiting for if you want to catch every Force Ghost actor and character name.

Rey and her Force Ghost Voices

Who are the Jedi who finally respond to Rey’s request to “Be with me?” Here’s the list of characters encouraging Rey in Rise of Skywalker:

Luminara Unduli

Ahsoka Tano

Aayla Secura

Mace Windu

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Yoda

Anakin Skywalker

Adi Gallia

Kanan Jarrus

Qui-Gon Jinn

Luke Skywalker

 

I really tried to figure this out on my own from listening during the critical scene, but even if I’d seen every single bit of Star Wars canon that would be kind of rough. I had to make sure to look it all up. About 30 lines go by very fast, almost on top of each other. Tellingly, the messages that stand out the most are from Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda, and Luke. If you’re a Skywalker Saga fan, this should come as no surprise.

Anakin’s line is actually the most significant, story-wise, telling Rey to bring about balance in the Force, “as he did.”

(Remember Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost in Return of the Jedi as he cops to his lies to Luke?)

What else stood out:

Both voices for Obi-Wan Kenobi seemed layered over each other (using the same repurposed line from Sir Alec Guinness in the Force Vision in The Force Awakens over lines from Ewan McGregor). This is cleverly done. Instead of telling Rey she’s taking her first steps, Obi-Wan encourages her to take her final steps. Awwww. 

Frank Oz. Duh.

Liam Neeson! Samuel Jackson!

Hayden Christensen, in his best line reading yet.

Carrie Fisher, and finally (of course) Mark Hamill, putting a cap on the Jedi Ghost lineage.

The other voices, especially the female ones, I just could not place on my own. Since I’ve never seen Rebels or The Clone Wars, I figured the extra voices came from those animated — yet canon — materials.

Catching Up with The Clones

This is why I feel like I need to turn in my Geek card. There’s a lot of Star Wars canon I’ve missed. While I’m currently following (and loving) The Mandalorian, I previously turned up my nose at the animated Star Wars: Rebels and The Clone Wars. All sources report excellent stories therein and I’ll watch them eventually.

I also skipped The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, because it’s so bad even George Lucas hates it. I’m going to catch it soon anyway. There are wonky copies of it on You Tube that pop up quicker than Lucasfilm can tear them down.  I think it’s something like a geek rite of passage to see something so awful that everyone agrees stinks like a family of wet Wookiees.

(Here’s a copy now. OMG, the opening crawl actually calls this Episode IV 1/2. Does this make it canon?)

I look forward to reviewing these previously undiscovered Star Wars stories here on RunPee. Re-watching the Force Ghost scene in Rise of Skywalker will be more meaningful if I know who those other characters were. In the meantime, I’ll try to avoid story spoilers…besides knowing all the characters must be dead (being Force GHOSTS and all).

What Force Ghost voices did you notice and appreciate the most? Discuss Rey’s cathartic #BeWithMe scene in the comments below. 


Star Wars Analysis – What does balance in the Force mean?

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

Who rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher, men or women?

Who rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher, men or women?

If you go to IMDb.com you’ll see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has a rating of 6.9/10. And at Rottentomatoes.com #RoS gets a 86% from users. (And 53% from critics, but who cares what critics think?)

Infographic of every Star Wars movie ranked by fans on IMDb and RottenTomatoes

That’s nice to know, but user polls like that have always bothered me, because  I don’t know who’s voting. The assumption is that if enough people vote, then it really doesn’t matter. But is that a good assumption? Let’s test it and find out.

In the RunPee app we have a user’s poll — we call it the Peeple’s Poll — that breaks down user voting more precisely by age and gender. We also ask users to submit their expectation vote before seeing the movie to compare with their after-movie vote, to see how a movie performs based on expectations.

Lets see what the Peeple’s Poll numbers have to say about Rise of Skywalker.

Who rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher, men or women?

Raw data of results by gender

expectation
aftermovie
difference
men
75.9 81.5 +5.6
women
76.8 83.6 +6.8
COMbined
76.1 82.1 +6.0

Women have a higher expectation vote than men. And, their after-movie vote is also higher — by a wider margin. The last remnants of the Old Stereotype that Star Wars is for nerdy boys has been swept away.

An after-movie rating in the low 80% range is respectable. For context, an 82.1 score would put Rise Of Skywalker as the 28th best movie of 2019 — just slightly ahead of Joker.

Read the 2019 Peeple’s Poll Movies – Year in Review here.

Turns out men and women don’t rate movies equally. If we look at all votes for all movies we can see there is a slight, but noticeable, difference in how men and women rate movies.

Peeple’s Poll voting by gender for ALL MOVIES

expectation
aftermovie
difference
men
75.4 80.1 +4.7
women
76.4 82.6 +6.2
Women – men
+1.0 +1.5

Remember, the numbers above are for all movies. The expectation vote between men and women differ by 1.0 points, while the after-movie vote differs by 1.5 points. Not huge, but I think it’s interesting that women generally are happier with a movie than men.

Note: this is with over 80,000 total votes submitted.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker departure from average.

expectation

#RoS – overall avg.

after-movie

#RoS – overall avg.

men
75.9 – 75.4 = +0.5 81.5 – 80.1 = +1.4
women
76.8 – 76.4 = +0.4 83.6 – 82.6 = +1.0

Here we can see the departure from average is a little greater for men than women, but again, women still rate the movie higher.

However, in a deeper context, the trend is for women to have an expectation rating that is 1 point higher than men, and in the case of #RoS it’s 0.9.

Let’s call that a wash.

On the other hand, the trend, when considering all movies, is for women to have an after-movie rating that’s 1.5 points higher than men. In the case of #RoS, men are +1.4 and women are +1.0. Women’s after-movie rating is higher, but not by the margin we would expect according to average.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker expectation by age/genderInfographic, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, rating by men and women before movie expectation

You can see that, in general, women had slightly higher expectations across all age groups, except for the 20-29 range. But more interestingly, I think, the 20-29 age range was lower for both genders by wide margins. If you have some reasoning for, that I’d love to hear it in the comments. Notice also that, among women, those under 20 had the highest expectations, while those 20-29 had the lowest expectations. A stark contrast for two adjacent age groups. But, that’s life.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker after-movie by age/gender

Infographic, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, rating by men and women after movie rating

This is where it gets really interesting. What’s up with women under 20? We saw from the expectation chart that women under 20 had the highest expectation, but it’s crazy how much that groups after-movie rating stands out. My guess is that young women identify with the protagonist Rey and young men identify with Kylo Ren. I don’t want to get into anything spoilery, so I’ll leave it at that. But if you’ve seen the movie you can see how the outcome of the characters could have a strong influence on the weak minded young. 🙂

FAQ – Peeple’s Poll

Want to get punched in the nose? Go tell a teenage girl that #RoS sucked. Note: of the 2,800+ votes for #RoS women under 20 has the least number of votes at just 19. I’ll check back in a few days and update to see there are any changes.

The other thing I notice from the after-movie chart is, among men, those in the 30-39 range had the lowest rating for the movie of any group. Why? Let’s see… A man of about 35 would have been around 15 when Phantom Menace came out. Does the scar of Jar-Jar still haunt them? You tell me.

One other statistical result is worth mentioning, and that’s the percentage of votes by women vs men for all movies and for #RoS.

Percent of voters by gender

# of votes all movies
# of votes Rise of Skywalker
women
27,756 810
men
56,031 1,945
women/men %
49.5% 41.6%

You can see that overall women don’t submit votes in the Peeple’s Poll as frequently as men. (2 votes by men for every 1 vote by a woman.) However, I don’t have any overall gender demographics for RunPee app users. I can only go by users who submit votes in the Peeple’s Poll and submit their gender.

For Rise of Skywalker women account for 41.6% of the votes, down 7.9% from the overall trend. My interpretation is that, while women rate #RoS higher, men account for a disportionate percentage of the audience. At least among RunPee app users.

We’re just getting started here. Tell me, what other sorts of statistical breakdowns would you like to see in the future?

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

 

Is there anything extra during the end credits of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker No, there are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Anything Extra Details

There are no extra scenes. However, if you’re a fan of the Star Wars music by John Williams there’s plenty to enjoy throughout the credits, including Darth Vader’s theme and the Celebratory passage from A New Hope.

Also, wait a few minutes after the credits roll, and you’ll see the complete list of [redacted for spoilers] characters/voice actors from a key scene in the movie. Without this list, it’s hard to identify them all.

The credits run for approximately 10 minutes.

Read the RunPee movie review for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rob Williams. Movie review grade: A-

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi violence and action
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Sequel, Star Wars
USA release date: 2019-12-20
Movie length: 2 hours 22 minutes

We have 4 Peetimes for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Learn more.

About The Peetimes
Between we Peeps we’ve seen Rise of Skywalker now 5 times, so we can be sure we picked the best Peetimes and got the details right.

I recommend the 2nd or 3rd Peetime. Both are plenty long, but there’s important scenes that follow each Peetime, so don’t be late.

#MayTheRunPeeBeWithYou

The decade of 2010s when female protagonists said #MeToo to Science Fiction

Amy Adams in Arrival

Amy Adams in Arrival

Science fiction has long been dominated by male protagonists to placate the mostly male audience. But times are a changin’. Some of the most outstanding science fiction of the 2010s featured women as either the protagonist or equal partners alongside a male counterpart. Spoilers ahead for these 2010 films. 

Arrival (2016)

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Eric Heisserer, based on the story “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Let’s start with what I think is the very best science fiction movie of the decade: Arrival. Amy Adams plays Professor Louise Banks in this cerebral exploration of language and time. In no other genre than science fiction could a professor of linguistics, male or female, play the protagonist of a story.

The protagonist in Arrival is patient, smart, thoughtful. Let’s face it, those are qualities more associated with women than men. She doesn’t rush to conclusions; she doesn’t approach the problem to be solved with pre conceptions; and in the end, she doesn’t resort to violence — but contrarily, uses her intellect to avoid violence.

In short, she doesn’t try to be a woman in a man’s role.

That said, I think the best display of Professor Bank’s qualities is when her counterpart, Professor Ian Donnelly — played by Jeremy Renner — makes a crucial discovery that helps solve the translation puzzle. Bank’s doesn’t show any signs of resistance to a new idea; nor does she resist an idea that isn’t her own; she even recognizes Ian discovered something before he tells her, and is genuinely excited at the prospect.

If the genders had been switched between Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and it was the female, Professor Banks, who discovered the key that unravels the puzzle, then this is the part of the story where the female would have to do something heroic just so her idea could be recognized by the male.

I’m not just saying this to be critical of men. When trying to solve a problem I can absolutely recognize the tendency to resist changing direction. Sometimes there’s a feeling of mental momentum that builds up, and trying to stop it and change course requires effort. (Picture cartoon here of man driving, not knowing where he is or where he’s going, but stubbornly determined to continue driving, while ignoring the input of the woman in the passenger’s seat with a map.)

Arrival also brilliantly explores how a woman, Louis, can handle making the fantastically painful choice to have a child she knows will die young. Yet, before her child dies, they will have love and memories to last a lifetime. Ian, her husband, leaves her, because he isn’t strong enough to handle the emotional pain Louis embraces. 

I don’t want to suggest women have always taken a back seat to men as protagonists in science fiction. Linda Hamilton, as Sarah Connor in Terminator, and Sigourney Weaver, as Ellen Ripley in Aliens, have played powerful women protagonists, as have many other women in science fiction. However, those characters lean heavily on women thrust into traditionally masculine roles: violence.

The real beauty of Arrival is that a female character, in a military setting, uses her intellect to avoid violence.

Colossal (2016)

Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis

Colossal, staring Anne Hathaway

I know what you’re thinking: Colossal? I’ve never heard of it.

I know, right? I was right there with you until a few months ago. Colossal was in and out of theaters without so much as a “boo.” It couldn’t have been a wide release movie or we would have done Peetimes for it.

Yet here we are. Colossal is one of those movies I love telling people to watch. Don’t look for the trailer on YouTube; don’t look it up on IMDb; just try your best to watch it without knowing anything at all about it and enjoy.

It’s on my list here of great science fiction movies of the past decade, so you already have a hint, but I guarantee you, you won’t see it coming.

Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis are both fantastic in their roles — but I’m not going to say anything more than that. You’ll understand when you see it.

Lucy (2014)

Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman

Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson,

Okay, I’ll admit it: Lucy isn’t exactly great science fiction. It’s more like guilty pleasure science fiction. It’s a little like the movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, except that it goes to infinity.

What makes Lucy so enjoyable is Scarlett Johansson’s performance. Going from a directionless young woman to, basically, a god, in the span of a day.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Bluntedge of tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

This is one of my all time favorite science fiction movies, and among the best of the Groundhog genre. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt co-star in this movie. However, when the backstory is considered, it’s Emily Blunt’s character, Rita, who is the hero. She’s the one who went through the temporal loop first and figured it out. And she’s the one who mentors Tom Cruise’s initially cowardly character, Private Cage. It only looks like Tom Cruise is the main character because of the point of view the story is told from.

Okay, they can be co-heroes. But still, Rita is the one who saves the day, twice.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Director: John Krasinski
Writers: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski

A Quiet Place, staring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski

As long as we’re talking about Emily Blunt, let’s not forget how outstanding her performance was in A Quiet Place. Her character, Evelyn Abbott, wasn’t the hero of the story. Akin to Signs, every member of the family was the hero.

Bonus, we get A Quiet Place 2 — and thank you for not trying to be cute and name it A Quieter Place — on March 20, 2020.

Her (2013)

Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

her-starring- Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

Yeah, yeah, I know this is a stretch. Joaquin Phoenix is the protagonist. But this is my list and I’m going to argue it’s merits for inclusion. It’s science fiction at it’s best and it explores (soon to be) very real experience that millions, perhaps billions, of humans will encounter: what to do when we fall in love with an artificial intelligence (AI).

I have to start by saying how masterfully Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha — the AI. I would fall in love with my Google Voice too if it had Scarlett’s voice. There’s no doubt that Joaquin Phoenix is a generational talent. However, his performance would have felt contrived if the AI he falls in love with didn’t do such a great job communicating the nuances of emotions through voice alone.

Aside: Have you ever noticed how rare it is that a woman narrates a documentary? It seems like the choices are Morgan Freeman, Neil Degrasse Tyson,  Richard Attenborough, or any other man with a British accent. I can’t even think of a scientific documentary that’s voiced by a woman. But would someone please put Scarlett Johansson to work narrating? Her voice soothes like freshly baked bread slathered in butter. I could listen to it all day.

First View Movie Review – Her

Ex Machina (2014)

Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Ex Machina, starring Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Maybe you think the inclusion Ex Machina is a bigger stretch to add to this list than Her. Granted there are no women in this movie: just two men and two AI/robots: Ava and the speechless Kyoko. While the AI have the shape of female figures — for less than research purposes — the AI use those shapes, and the effect they have on the two men, to their advantage.

When you think about it, it’s really quite brilliant. The AI Ava uses everything it knows of women and men as tools to plan her escape. She manipulates both men with such subtlety that Caleb believes he has successfully thwarted her plan only to find out that was actually part of her ultimate plan.

We could be here all day talking about the nuances of what this implies, but I think the big takeaway here is that each person’s deep seated values around gender attributes is something that other humans, and soon AI, can use to manipulate us. We all know this is true because no demographic is more easily manipulated than young men by sexy women. Want to sell more of anything? Just picture a sexy woman holding your product, or better yet, draped over it, and sales will increase. You think that won’t be the first thing AI recognize and use to their own advantage as soon as they have the will to do so?

Also worth mentioning:

I don’t consider superhero movies to be science fiction, however I must give a nod to the addition of Captain Marvel in the MCU.

I’m personally not a fan of Brie Larson in the titular role. I think Blake Lively would have been a better choice, but be that as it may, introducing a powerful female superhero is important for the growth of not only the MCU franchise, but also our culture. It saddens me that grown men reacted to Brie Larson with such animosity over her stance on women’s rights. But at the very least, this exposes a problem that these men need to work toward getting over, because we’re not going back to the culture they crave of women beholden to men to give them value.

At the same time that Captain Marvel is being heralded as the new age of powerful women in superhero films, we already had one in Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. Natasha’s sacrifice was every bit as crucial to the resolution of Avengers: Endgame as was Iron Man’s. Yet, I don’t see in-universe acknowledgement in the same way. I really hope that during Phase IV of the MCU there are reminders that Iron Man wasn’t the only one to make the ultimate sacrifice to defeat Thanos.

Lastly, I do not remotely consider Star Wars to be science fiction. However, if you ask me, the only good thing about the Star Wars trilogy of 2010s was the female protagonist. I wrote a lengthy article about how women rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher than men. And in particular, women under 20 had the highest rating of any age group for either gender.

Way back in the 1960s, the television series Star Trek broke new ground in creating an all inclusive cast, while still pandering to white entitlement. There’s little doubt that if Captain Kirk were in the captain’s chair today he’d probably face multiple counts of sexual harassment. But, at least there was an African-American female bridge officer, along with Asian and Russian men.

It’s clear that the future of all movie franchises will lean heavily on not only creating a balance between male and female protagonists but also reaching a balance in races and sexual orientations. Marvel has already announced that there will be multiple characters added in Phase IV and beyond who are on the LGBTQ spectrum.

We’ve come a long way as a culture, but clearly we’re not “there,” yet — and who even knows what “there” even looks like.

20 Groundhog Day Type Movies – The Ultimate Repeating Day Film List

Two Must See Science Fiction Spoof Film Documentaries (plus: the most ‘inconceivable’ parody of a spoof)

It’s hard to make a decent movie spoof for a beloved franchise, and being in the science fiction genre doesn’t make things any easier. The producers have to sell a fresh plot, quality special effects, and sparkling humor, while somehow keeping the fan base happy. You have to honor — while riffing– the base material. It’s a tight line to walk.

Two beloved science fiction spoofs not only stand out as Best in Genre full-length film satires, but have now have their own documentaries. That’s impressive for a parody.

If you’re a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, you’ve probably heard about Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest. Join me in discussing the cameo-studded documentaries about these fabulous science fiction movie parodies.

Spoofing Star Wars: Spaceballs – The Documentary (30 minutes, 1987)

Lucasfilm actually did post-production for Spaceballs. Mel Brooks said George Lucas loved the screenplay, thankfully, since Brooks wasn’t going to go forward with Spaceballs if Lucas had a problem with it.

In the documentary, Brooks says, “to make a good spoof film, you have to love the genre.” Truth.

Not only did Brooks pull together a stellar cast for Spaceballs, the story was funny and reasonably sensible. Even better, there were film nods to other science fiction classics like Star Trek, Alien, Planet of the Apes, and even Superman. Spaceballs is a good romp.

Here’s the 1987 Spaceballs Documentary to get you back in the saddle for some silly Star Wars fun:

 

Spoofing Star Trek: Galaxy Quest (2019)

Ask any Trek fan to list their favorite Star Trek films and invariably Galaxy Quest comes up. Even the real Star Trek actors love it, and praise it to Klingon Heaven (aka Sto-Vo-Kor) in this documentary. When it comes to the best Star Trek films, Galaxy Quest is near the top for me. It also handles the fanbase with great esteem, letting ‘us’ help save the day (“It’s all real.” “I KNEW it!”)

Indeed, I loved the Galaxy Quest Documentary when it came out in a limited release in 2019. I laughed with all the other fans in a packed screening room, while we clued back into to why this…wacky  spoof…was so good. It told a real story. And FELT like Star Trek. It had a coherent narrative, gave us all the feels, and reminded us how amazing Alan Rickman can be with even the goofiest lines (“By Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be avenged.“)

Here’s the trailer for the Never Surrender Documentary (not available free on You Tube Yet):

My Never Surrender Galaxy Quest Documentary Review:

Never Surrender – A Galaxy Quest Retrospective

Extra! Must-See Bonus Spoofiness

The Deadpool Before Christmas (2018)

A superhero spoof of a fantasy spoof? With genre-hopping Princess Bride fun? Yes, please.

Here’s the trailer if you somehow missed this Deadpool & Princess Bride Mashup:

And my review of The Deadpool Before Christmas:

The Deadpool Before Christmas

 

Every Type of Star Wars Stormtrooper, Explained

So, I was making my own list of every type of Stormtrooper we see in Star Wars, and I found a definitive video explaining more types than I ever noticed. And I notice most things in science fiction films. One of the great things about Star Wars is the massive but oft-unmentioned world-building. The more you watch these movies, the more you notice.

So many Stormtroopers, so little time to spot them

Can you recall which movie features Shore Troopers? How about Snow Troopers, Riot Troopers, SandTroopers, Mud Troopers, and Scout Troopers?

Offhand, I can answer that. In order: Rogue One, The Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens, A New Hope, Solo, and Return of the Jedi/The Mandalorian. But that’s barely scratching the surface of Stormtrooper designs.

Some sweep by so quickly you have to stop the movies to catch the new armor and designs. Apparently, I missed a lot of brand new specialized Stormtroopers in Rise of Skywalker.

Also, Star Wars has a lot of Imperial & First Order Guard Troopers. These aren’t the same as the generic Troopers: they are elite. These are the scary ones in red that defend the Emperor and Supreme Leader Snoke. Honestly, in their scenes I mainly noticed they were red-suited, and often wore capes. Sometimes they used unique laser weapons and may have a touch of the Force.

I learned there’s a lot more to the Guard Troopers than I realized when I watched the clip below.

Lucasfilm made this video with real design crewmembers, and it’s incredibly detailed.

Obviously, the designers had a lot of fun creating these different Stormtrooper outfits. There’s a lineage that flows through the decades of storytelling in Star Wars. I’m impressed with the care and attention paid to even the smallest difference in helmet features and armor accessories.

Additionally, if you like Stormtroopers in general, and A New Hope specifically, this parody spoof Troops below is a must-see. It’s now part of my personal head canon on what went down that fateful, deadly day at the Lars Homestead on Tatooine.

“All suspects are guilty. Period:”

TROOPS – A Star Wars Parody Does COPS

Lastly, here is a high quality satire from Saturday Night Live taking place behind the First Order scenes with Kylo Ren and his off duty Stormtroopers, called Undercover Boss. Adam Driver is not to be missed as he sends up his pouty, emo character arc in The Force Awakens. I consider this head-cannon too. Why not? It fits right in.

Undercover Boss – A Star Wars Parody on SNL