I Rank All 9 Star Wars Movies

So you may or may not know this about me, but I am a big Star Wars fan. I know I don’t publicize it that much. But Star Wars has a very special place in my heart. When I was a kid, me and my brother and sister and our friends would play Star Wars and I was always R2D2. Do I have credibility now? Yes? Fantastic.

So now that there are a bajillion Star Wars movies out, and they have a wide range in tone and style, I am going to rank them from least favorite to favorite…because I can. I recognize my decisions might cause some of you much joy, or much agony. But I promise to be respectful and considerate, so hopefully war will not break out in the universe. (I’m sorry if we don’t agree on a few…hopefully we can still be friends!!!!)

Disclaimer: I did not overthink this. I rated them all by gut instinct in about 2 minutes. And yes, some of the reasons are arbitrary and wildly subjective. But this is MY blog, so I have the right to do things like that.

9. Rogue One

Sorry guys. I had to do it. I really wanted to like this movie. But the themes were confusing to me and the characters underdeveloped.

What I loved: The beach battle scene with the AT-ATs was AMAZING

What I did not love so much: The good guys acting like bad guys (I’m looking at you, Cassian Andor. Why’d you kill that guy at the beginning? Grrr)

What I wanted more of: Backstory and character development of the blind guy. He was like the most interesting character in the movie. Jyn’s father. He was like the most compelling character and he got no screen time.

8. Revenge of the Sith 

I didn’t hate this one. I actually really enjoyed it in theaters. It just isn’t one that I rewatch, like ever, and you can read why below.

What I loved: Lots of heavy emotion. They made me really care about Anakin. And the scene where Obi Wan says, “You were the chosen one!” was heartbreaking.

What I did not love so much: I just don’t want to watch a character descend into darkness and a republic fall apart, over and over again. They didn’t give it much reason to stand on its own.

What I wanted more of: Maybe an intriguing side plot, or remarkable insight, something to make the movie worth watching again.

7. Attack of the Clones

What I loved: The politics were actually super interesting. I loved the rainy planet of Kamino. And what I love most is that this movie spawned the animated TV series: The Clone Wars. It’s fantastic! If you haven’t seen it, you have to check it out.

What I did not love so much: Hadyn Christenson and Natalie Portman’s acting/the script. It wasn’t so bad the first time, but some of those lines get worse the more I rewatch the movie.

What I wanted more of: Obi Wan Kenobi. And the musical score.

6. The Last Jedi 

I enjoyed this one a lot. There was a lot to like. But it did not blow me away. And it ranks just below The Force Awakens for reasons that shall soon become clear.

What I loved:  The opening battle was incredible. Kylo Ren. The porgs were fun. The crystal critters were beautiful. Rey and Kylo versus the red guard was great. I didn’t expect to, but I actually really enjoyed Vice Admiral Holdo and her understated leadership style and how she sacrificed herself without a show. Rose was adorable.

What I did not love so much: It just did not have a “wow” factor for me. Although it wasn’t awful, I did not LOVE the way they handled Luke’s character. Yes, the scene where he faced down the First Order all by himself was pretty iconic…but then I felt a little cheated because he was projecting himself. Don’t get me wrong, it was a cool twist. But then he died. So that was it. I just would’ve wanted his last moments to be a little more…

What I wanted more of: I wanted a bit more of a character arc for Rey. I wanted so much more from Luke. I wanted Finn and Rose’s trip to not be a complete waste. I wanted something fresh and personally moving.

5. The Force Awakens 

I liked that it stayed traditional and paid homage to the original movies, while establishing new characters. Really, the presence of Han Solo is what gives this movie the edge over The Last Jedi in the rankings.

What I loved: Han Solo magic. He really adds so much to the film. The subtleties of Rey’s character: she is strong and brave, but a bit naive. She is just refreshingly different from a lot of female characters out there, especially in action movies. There were some great one-liners. And the X-Wings flying across the water was a pretty iconic scene. Kylo Ren showed some new powers with the force which were quite cool. And his voice through the mask was creepy cool.

What I did not love so much: Almost too predictable: mentor figure Han dying in front of Rey’s eyes, a planet-destroying weapon, a Jedi orphan raised in the desert etc. But that was really my only complaint with this one.

What I wanted more of: Originality. Han Solo.

4. The Phantom Menace

I know some of you may be throwing a fit that I ranked this one above The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. But I do what I want. Keep reading.

What I loved: The lightsaber fight between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wann Kenobi, and Darth Maul, set to the musical number known as “Duel of the Fates” is one of the most iconic scenes to ever come out of the Star Wars franchise. Seriously, go watch it now. Aside from that, the worldbuilding of this movie was really quite breathtaking, from Coruscant to Naboo, to the underwater Gungan cities, to the pod racing on Tatooine. This movie also set up Obi-Wan Kenobi as the dry, sarcastic Jedi Knight we all know and love today (older Obi-Wan was less snarky).

What I did not love so much: Jar Jar Binks. Some of the acting. A focus more on politics and worldbuilding than character development.

What I wanted more of: Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Characters I could relate to (I think these were supposed to be Anakin and Padme Amidala but they fell short). Maybe some real emotions of fear and vulnerability.

Incidentally, people have this whole theory of how George Lucas used the three prequels to mirror the original Star Wars trilogy. It is called the ring theory. If it is true, it is pretty darn impressive and not to be discounted. But sometimes with these things, I suspect the fans are seeing things that aren’t there. If you are a Star Wars fan, you should definitely go read about it.

3. A New Hope

A lighthearted adventure, with real emotional undertones, which had believable danger and stakes, but was still safe enough for a seven-year-old to watch (me).

What I loved: The characters: Han, Luke, Leia. The wonder. The sarcasm. The stakes. The impossible odds. The good guys winning. The soundtrack. Snarky little R2D2 paired up with pessimistic C-3PO. A princess who was a leader and fought her own battles.

What I did not love so much: If I was evaluating this as a seven-year-old, I would say the scene in the Cantina scared me. But I will try to evaluate this objectively as an adult. There isn’t a lot of backstory on the characters, aside from Luke, and he seems to get over his aunt and uncle’s death quicker than Obi-Wan’s. I’m sure I could find other flaws with it, but I don’t wanna. People may call it simplistic in its betrayal of good and evil, or unrealistic because it doesn’t delve into character’s reactions and feelings too much. But I love it. I think it hits all the perfect notes for a family-friendly scifi adventure.

What I wanted more of: I always wanted Obi-Wan to live a little longer.

2. The Empire Strikes Back

So I know a lot of people say this was the best movie of the original trilogy. It was good and I do love it, but for some reason, I will always rank those first three movies by the order I saw them in. To me they just got better and better. And it is hard for me to think of The Empire Strikes Back without immediately thinking of The Last Jedi and how the story ends. Really these two could probably be tied for first place.

What I loved: The battle on Hoth in the snow. Leia and Han bickering. Cloud city. Luke’s journey. Luke fighting Darth Vader in cloud city. That iconic scene where Darth Vader admits: “I am your father.” How it ends bittersweet, but with hope.

What I did not love so much: Don’t make me do this. You KNOW this is one of my favorites cause it’s rated in the top two. Umm…I guess I always wished Luke spent more time with Leia and Han in this one. He’s off by himself a lot (but I guess that is seven-year-old me talking again).

What I wanted more of: EVERYTHING. Because it was amazing.

1. The Return of the Jedi

Why is this first, you ask? Well, as I admitted before, it holds weight simply because it was the last chapter in an epic story. But I also have a confession to make: Luke is my favorite character. Maybe you figured that out already.

What I loved: The escape from Jabba the Hut with all the dynamics. The more mature, Jedi-Knight Luke. The multi-piece climax is still one of my all-time favorites in cinematic history: Han and Leia are in the battle on Endor, WHILE Lando is leading one of the most epic space battles in the franchise, WHILE Luke is confronting Vader and the Emperor. The timing between switching back and forth was masterful. And did I mention that “Into the Trap” is another one of my all time favorite pieces by John Williams? Go listen to it and just wait until you get to the 1:00 minute mark. OMG it still gives me feels.

What I did not love so much: I loved the Ewoks when I was little and I am still fond of them. But I can see why people might be annoyed with them. And I will concede there are some scenes with some less-than-stellar acting.

What I wanted more of: I love it, I love it, I love it. Yes, I am biased because I grew up with these movies. But I don’t care.

If I didn’t do justice to one of your favs, please defend it in the comments below! When I hear people talk about why they love a movie so much, it actually makes me rethink about it with another perspective! So change my mind. 

New Year, New Perspective

Welp. It’s 2018. There’s no denying it. And if you don’t know this about me yet, I absolutely love denial. See, I am a super slow processor. I need time to adjust to ideas, and people, and stressful circumstances. Denial is the sweet, sweet friend who helps me get through the present in order to cope with the future.

Before you start quoting me all over social media and praising me as the best new life coach of our time, let me make it clear that I am not exactly recommending this system for anybody else. Also, if you are under 18: “Face your responsibilities. Carpe Diem. And all that.” There. I’ve fulfilled my adult responsibilities, right? Good. Let’s move forward.

So at the end of last year, I was kind of raving about all the exciting things that would be coming in 2018. But now that the new year has arrived I am a little less exuberant. Good things are coming, don’t get me wrong. But the reality is that many of those good things require hard work. The month of January has been, and I think will continue to be, a month of reckoning and counting the cost.

But with that being said, I am still excited for this year. It’s not the “Christmas morning” type of excited where you get free presents. It’s more of a “I’ve committed to climb Mt. Everest and it’ll be hard but amazing” kind of excited.

And I guess the biggest thing I have learned so far this year, is how extremely precious the journey is. Goals are not everything. Mountain peaks are not everything. And in 2018, I intend to enjoy every minute of the difficult, grueling process. I am very thankful for the readers and writers in my life who inspire me and push me to be better. So thank you!

How are you guys doing with the process? Are you always dreaming about the mountain tops, or are you able to appreciate the day-to-day struggle? And what projects do you have this year? Please comment below. I really do love to hear your thoughts!

Guest Post for J.E. Purrazzi

Hello friends!

The wonderful J.E. Purrazzi asked me to post on her blog for her community week! I chose to talk about the semi-controversial topic of adding themes/messages to your story!! Go check it out:

J.E. Purrazzi’s blog (www.jillanepurrazzi.com/blog)

Have a great week!

 

10 Things You May Not Know About Me

So I’ve been meeting a lot of new authors and writers online. And some of you may be thinking, “Who the heck is E.B. Dawson?” So here are some fun “writerly” facts about me:

1. I have moved 24 times in 27 years and have lived in 4 different countries.

2. I dream very vividly (sometimes lucidly). I had nightmares a lot when I was little and I learned to give them happy endings to help me go back to sleep. That is really where my storytelling began. Even now, a lot of my stories were either inspired by dreams, or have dream related content grafted in.

Continue reading “10 Things You May Not Know About Me”

Who Are You Writing For?

One of my best friends just finished “Into the Void.” She texted me saying, “Never stop writing, even if you are just writing for me.” She got it. That validated hundreds (maybe thousands?) of hours of work.

It’s a huge accomplishment just to finish a novel. It is. But the market can be deadly. For a time, I queried my first book over and over to agent after agent–all with the same response. That’s when you start to feel crazy. Maybe this book is worthless drivel and I am deceiving myself. But that’s the thing…I know that it is not! I have (sadly) read several books that are worthless drivel and yet somehow they got an agent and a publisher.

Continue reading “Who Are You Writing For?”

Fiction Validation

Thank you Joanna Penn for validating me. In my last brief post on the “Self-Publishing Success Summit” I talked about how I seem to take much longer writing then these non-fiction writers. And Joanna Penn just agreed with me.

According to her, fiction takes more executive willpower, more research, and more patience.

She also pointed out that your speed per book will probably increase as you go. (She’s on book ten and has trimmed months off her time). She pointed out that books in series go much faster because you’ve already established characters etc. And there is a difference between writing “on the side” and writing as a full-time career. When it is your full time income and you have publication deadlines you are driven to get things done.

Self-Publishing Success Summit: Initial Thoughts

So, I am currently attending the “Self-Publishing Success Summit” through Self-Publishing School and hosted by Chandler Bolt. There are something like 40 speakers over ten days and it is all online and completely free, so I thought: what’s there to lose? I like to learn new things. (By the way, there’s still to jump in if you want to…)

Now, we are only on day two, so there is clearly a lot to come. But I thought I’d put some of my thoughts down as I try to process what I’ve seen so far.

First of all, I am very impressed with the down-to-earth, genuineness, and integrity of the speakers. I honestly didn’t know much about any of them before the summit began, but I have very much enjoyed hearing what they have to say.

Second, I am realizing that this summit is mostly geared toward non-fiction writers. Granted, they did vaguely imply that once or twice at the beginning. I think there is only one person specifically addressing fiction writing. I thought, “It doesn’t matter. Writing is writing.” Well, yes and no. I have picked up a lot of good advice so far, but at the same time I couldn’t help contrasting my writing process with theirs…which leads me to…

Thirdly, I am ridiculously intimidated by these guys. The speakers I have heard so far crank out huge chunks of writing in short amounts of time. They talk about productivity and focus and getting through that first draft as fast as you can and I’m like…whaaat? Granted, I’ve always known I’m a bit of a turtle, but these guys make me sound like a sloth. I am an advocate of what I call the “soup method.” I like to let my characters and plots simmer until the full flavor comes out. But when I think about it, I write non-fiction very differently. I do think if I were ever to write a non-fiction book I would plough through it much faster. I like my “soup method” and I don’t think it makes me a bad writer.

But it is worth examining my writing style and habits…there is always room for growth.

Endings: the Cliffhanger vs. the Payoff Part 1

I am excited about this one. In fact, I may even split it into two posts because I think it is worth talking about!

How to end your novel…

I have to confess that I didn’t have much of an issue with endings in my early days of writing, but that was a problem in itself. Usually, if I made it past the climax and had entered any phase of falling action/resolution I considered myself to be Charles Dickens himself and consequently halted the story as painlessly as possible, not entirely unlike a guillotine executioner. Moreover, this habit often left unanswered questions, loose ends, and unresolved conflict which I told myself was all the better- motivating my readers to read the next book (if there was a next book).

To my credit, I often went back and eventually changed these cruelly decapitated endings because they didn’t “taste right.” Aside from a few exceptions, cliffhangers never sit well with me as an author. That might be because they drive me crazy as a reader.

Minimal internet research will make any author aware that the audience really does not like a cliffhanger ending. There were a few years there where I was fooled-mainly because many of the movies and television shows that were being hailed by critics utilized cliffhangers to get their viewers addicted. But as I delved into some of them I found they had an unanticipated effect: they were wearying. What’s more, the initial flavor of anticipation and adrenaline wore off as the plot was revealed and time passed and that anticipation and adrenaline was replaced by…nothing. There was little lasting impact, and virtually no desire to go back and repeat the experience because I already knew all the answers to the questions that had kept the experience going.

In direct contrast, the television shows and movies that I find myself endlessly re-watching are the ones that delve into the characters, often take time with the plot, create a thorough experience, and finish with a satisfying resolution. It’s the difference between fast food and a full course meal (why is she using so many food metaphors?!).

The abbreviated, cliffhanger endings were appealing to me because they were easier. I have found that crafting a satisfying resolution to a complex-plot story is one of the most difficult parts of writing a novel. And I am far from having mastered it. I have heard endings are difficult because they are false. The characters’ lives don’t just end (unless you killed them all off). Life will go on for them. Your job as an author is to craft a satisfying goodbye. In life unresolved (or unexpected) goodbyes are the worst. Don’t put your reader through that!

In Part 2 of this post we will examine several different species of ending to make note of the fact that not all endings are the same (nor should they be):

  1. The Return of the King
  2. Ender’s Game
  3. Serenity
  4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty/ Midnight in Paris