My Almea+400 project now has an introductory video:

The music for the video is by Robin Morton, a singer and composer. He’s also created this piece of Verdurian music, Žažarka Řohuepë, and hopes to write about Almean music of all kinds and perform samples.

The first bit of worldbuilding for Almea+400 is this page of terminology for modern life. This is an expansion of an earlier page which, for reasons that seemed clever at the time, used a good deal of Swedish. The Verdurian and Kebreni lexicons have also been updated. For Kebreni, I particularly thank Josef Wolanczyk (Pedant), who created over 300 words while translating several texts into Kebreni, greatly expanding the language.

I also changed my default WordPress theme, so this page looks different. WordPress’s themes are astonishingly terrible, with margins that waste most of the screen space. This one gives the text a little more room and more importantly doesn’t crop the pictures.

If you liked the Categories list, it’s still there, but you have to click the hamburger logo at the top of the page.

The Rise of Skywalker

A long time ago, but in this galaxy, a filmmaker named Lucas promised us nine movies. And by God we got nine movies, and I just watched the last one, only 42 years after the first. Its name is Star Wars <orchestral sting> The Rise of Skywalker.

I bet this gives us mucho XP

I was wary of this one, because reviews were bad, and I already knew they shafted Rose Tico. It’s still better than the second trilogy, but I think it’s pretty clear that Abrams’s vision was “do the first trilogy over, only with more fanservice.” This theme is a little confused by Ep 8, whose message is “Fanservice is bad.”

Overall impression: it’s not terrible, it finishes up the story, and has some nice spectacle. It’s also muddy verging on incoherent, has a sub-Lucas level of political understanding, and tackily plays on people’s fondness for the first trilogy.

First… Palpatine. This move makes very little sense. In The Force Awakens Abrams seemed to get that he could use the same universe to tell a new story with new villains. Admittedly Johnson killed off his big bad, but Lord S’mores was a bore anyway. But… Palpatine. The whole thing about Star Wars is that Sith keep coming, man. Palpatine wasn’t even interestingly different from any other Dark Lord; he’s no Joker that needs to be a perennial enemy. (And even if he was, for God’s sake don’t make every movie about Joker.)

Worse yet, Palpatine has no convincing goal here. The last two films showed the First Order almost entirely winning. Palp promises Kylo the galaxy, but Kylo has the galaxy. There isn’t the slightest idea what power he needs beyond that. The opening crawl says that Parp wants “revenge”, but… whuh? His enemies are almost all dead, notably, those who killed him the first time. I know that Trump has taught us that comically stupid dictators are a real possible thing, but using the power of a galactic empire to hunt down a few perps seems like a waste of everyone’s time.

Plus… the fanservice. Again, such a decline from his own damn movie: Han Solo didn’t just appear in Awakens, he earned his hero status all over again. In this movie the movie lingers over Chewie, Leia, Luke, Han, Lando, just assuming that we love them. It’s like Abrams is nudging us, “Didn’t you just love the first trilogy? Here is an actor from those films. You just love them, don’t you?” Yeah, they were fun, but we kind of want you to get on with this movie.

Now, back to the tradition of going through the notes I wrote while watching the film.

  • “Revenge”? Didn’t the Dark Side already win?
  • Kylo. You have mooks for this. Delegate.
  • The huge trapezoid has a very French BD feel.
  • Palp can offer “everything” except, apparently, plastic surgery.
  • Why is he offering Supreme Leader Kylo Ren what he already has?
  • Little as it is, the Resistance here is way bigger than after Ep 8, when it could fit inside the Falcon.
  • The heroes arguing is about at Lucas dialog level. This isn’t a compliment.
  • Kylo’s new helmet is… underwhelming.
  • Perp can increase their fleet “10,000-fold”? One, what for. Two, they already won. Three, even “tenfold” would be stretching it. Four, how did Pulpy get them manufactured?
  • Aliens are the new Orientalism.
  • Why did you park the Falcon miles away?
  • I guess you have to have supernatural power to take over a galaxy when your troops never hit anything.
  • Plot comes conveniently packaged in obvious artifacts. Hey, has any real-world bit of politics hinged on finding an ancient artifact?
  • Healing the monster is a nice touch. Another reason why women make the best protagonists. Your standard space marine wouldn’t have thought of that.
  • But, Rey has a tendency to forget about her pals.
  • Ooh, Kajimi is in the Nether.
  • “If this fails, it was all for nothing”… I get the “last chance” idea, but maybe never having a Plan B is the Resistance’s problem.
  • Why couldn’t Ren sense Chewie when, you know, he was getting captured?
  • Wow, stormtrooper mooks suck.
  • Well, Rey’s mooks do too. Can’t leave them alone for ten minutes without them getting captured.
  • The spy’s motivation is about the first real one we’ve gotten.
  • Kylo’s spiel hasn’t improved. Look, shouldn’t be that hard to convince a Jedi to help you. Promise her that you will let her take care of orphans or something.
  • While watching, I was sad about Chewie. On reflection: he was captured way too easily, and rescued way too easily. Things happen in this movie because the treatment said they do; it doesn’t sell them.
  • Finn is like All Hero All the Time now. Which is fine, but Poe’s roguishness is actually more interesting.
  • The existence of other deserters is a nice touch. Though it seems careless of the First Order.
  • Skimmer scene: Rey too does not like to delegate. Admittedly her crew shows later on that they are of absolutely no help.
  • The ruined Death Star is pretty interesting to see.
  • Why is she platforming when we saw her levitating earlier?
  • How does she keep her clothes so white? Gandalf at least knew the practicality of gray.
  • Another plot artifact. Story is video-game-ready.
  • The directors presumably hate each other. Still, Kylo was saying the Sith/Jedi thing should end, last film, and now he’s all in on Sithism.
  • So the rescue mission did absolutely nothing.
  • The healing thing. OK, at the time I felt it was really unclear. Now I understand that it’s supposed to be a Big Thing. As such it feels unearned. This affects Kylo because of… what? Since it’s never really explained what Kylo was after, it’s also a mystery why he changes because of this, much less what he’s after now.
  • Have to object once again to the visual of the planet blowing up. A planet doesn’t explode the same way a battleship does.
  • Omigod you followed Luke to Iona? I like Rey but I can’t easily follow her motivations either.
  • Han, then Luke. Too many dead guys all over this picture.
  • “Some things are stronger than blood”… yes, finally. But you, Mr. Abrams, made kinship the key to the film’s plot.
  • How did Palpy build all this shit?
  • The navs can be switched. See, the empire has a Plan B. Of course, it’s discovered in less than a minute.
  • The animal charge is a nice touch. Low tech conquering high tech is always fun.
  • Palp has a weird theory of power transfer.
  • Finn. We need to talk about “cover.”
  • “Join me and your friends won’t die”… c’mon Palpy, would a Sith even entertain that kind of offer?
  • The fleet appearing: Oh come on.
  • All of a sudden the destroyers are way easy to take out.
  • Wait, killing Palp is good now? At least she’s in gray now.
  • So kiss already. OK, they did. Now he’s dead.
  • Problem with Sith hierarchies: the empire kind of dissipates when they’re decapitated. There was a reason it happened to Sauron, but wouldn’t a bunch of First Orderers say “Welp, time to become warlords and bandits”?
  • Somehow the entire galactic power structure that Kylo built up also disappears. Abrams apparently has no idea of how big a galactic power structure is, what it’s doing when Kylo is doing one-man missions, who manned the Destroyers. I don’t need a wiki on this, but it’s part of the whole problem of him also never explaining what’s at stake for anyone.
  • I like the way Rey kneels down to interact with droids.
  • Wait, no one needs light sabers any more?
  • No one gets a romance?