Throwback Thursday: New Star Wars Books and the Humor in The Force Awakensby Todd King, contributing writer
Upcoming Books – Not the Jedi Ancient Texts
Bring the tastes and smells of Galaxy's Edge home
First question: does it include roasted porg? Probably not, but this cookbook is certainly one I want to get and try out! It will be a while before I can travel through the stars and set foot on Batuu, but maybe I can master creating a Ronto Wrap long before I get there. In what I think is a fantastic tie-in to the park, this official cookbook will be available in November of this year, just before the release of The Rise of Skywalker, and I hope, before Thanksgiving! This stuff will go better with the holiday meal than sweet potatoes. And what better to go along with any meal than Blue Milk? I can't wait to try out my galactic culinary skills and feed my inner Jedi.
Luke's Last (History) Lesson
Also being published in November (the 19th to be exact) is an absolutely fascinating The Secrets of the Jedi by (cookbook co-author) Marc Sumerak. The text is narrated by Luke Skywalker, who tells the history of the Jedi from his perspective. Like in The Last Jedi, Luke has a unique perspective on the Jedi and sees their successes as well as their faults. To me, it seems like it might be the kind of stuff he might have told Rey if he had been so inclined (it seemed his only point to Rey was that the Jedi caused more harm than good). The great thing is that he discusses Jedi history from all over the Star Wars canon including The Clone Wars. I found the page below to be especially telling of his view of the Jedi we saw in the prequels.
A page from the upcoming book, "The Secrets of the Jedi," narrated by Luke Skywalker, tells the history of the Jedi from his perspective and this page is an excellent take on the events of the prequels. Written by Marc Sumerak. Published by Insight Editions.
Awakening the Humor of Episode VII
Who talks first?
While I was planning to go through The Clone Wars and Rebels to continue my look at the humor of Star Wars in these Throwback Thursdays, I realized I was better off sticking to the theatrical movies (The Clone Wars pilot film notwithstanding) for the remainder of this year, and tackle all the TV series next year. This was, for me, all leading up to Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker so I think this focus is appropriate. Let's continue the films in release order. Good? Okay. Punch it!
While Revenge of the Sith wasn't without its humor, The Force Awakens was a "return to form" for Star Wars in a few ways. Episode III was where we had left off in the live-action saga ten years previously and it was the darkest chapter we had yet seen. Now forward to a time when the Empire had been defeated, but a new evil was rising, we find a galaxy that continues in its struggles but with nary a Sith in sight. In this rejuvinated episode, there is plenty of room for humor and it serves the story and the characters quite well. Harrison Ford brings together not only the anchor of much of the story and its place in the overall saga, but he always brings with him (in the character of Han Solo) that great quality of levity and instances of irony that we always loved about him and these stories. Aligned with new characters, Solo does what he can't help do: bring out the best in those around him. But first, these new characters are shades of ideas we've seen before.
Stormtrooper FN-2187 has an awakening of his own and wants out of the First Order. With Poe's help, he plans an escape through the hangar while saying, "Stay Calm," not to Poe, but to himself. © Lucasfilm.
When I played with Star Wars toys as a kid, characters would often get put in odd places, like Vader in the Millennium Falcon (where he would decree it as a "piece of junk"). Here we see a hero, Poe, piloting a TIE Fighter and exclaiming as they escape, "Whoa! This thing really moves!" © Lucasfilm.
Maybe this wasn't intentional but watching it back I though Oscar Isaac's delivery of this line was funny. He asks John Boyega his character's name, which is FN-2187. Poe replies, "F'n what?" © Lucasfilm.
Comedy comes in pairs
The solitary Rey tells BB-8 not to follow her but the droid, whose language she understands, lets out a sad whimper that stops Rey in her tracks. I think we've all been in situations where someone we don't want to be around asks to tag along. © Lucasfilm.
... he drinks it anyway because he's just too thirsty. There's no way he didn't get some nasty bacteria in his system that causes increased impulsiveness which Finn does throughout his journey. © Lucasfilm.
Rey keeps Finn down to question him while BB-8 shocks him with electricity and the look he gives is one of complete disbelief that he's being tortured by a tiny droid, even saying, "What!?" © Lucasfilm.
When our heroes are under attack at the Outpost, there is a quick exchange between them where Finn tries to lead Rey to safety. She doesn't want help and tells him to let go of her hand. But then ... © Lucasfilm.
The garbage in question? Well, it's been called junk before and so in a joyous reveal, there is the Millennium Falcon! (including a new radar dish, the previous one of which was broken in Return of the Jedi--details!) © Lucasfilm.
How many times have we been here? Trying to tell your friend to grab something for you and they just can't get the right thing. Here's Rey, like us in these situations, insisting, "No! The one I'm pointing at!" I adore this moment. © Lucasfilm.
Star Wars is full of little funny aside lines that are often missed on the first viewing. Rey will not take being a prop for Finn's attempts at climbing and blurts out a quick English-accented, "Get off!" © Lucasfilm.
Pleasantries aside, Han worries about his cargo, monstrous creatures called rathtars. Finn asks how he even managed to get them on board. Han replies, "I used to have a bigger crew." Oops. They were gone before they could be action figures. © Lucasfilm.
We love to see Han in over his head and try to work his way out. He proudly states he can *talk* his way out of anything to which Chewie objects with a growl. "Yes I do!" Han says. "Every time!" And with that, we're in agreement with the Wookie before the danger even appears. © Lucasfilm.
Han has regressed to a state of being where once again, everyone wants him dead. First the Guavian Death Gang want recompense, then a second gang, Kanjiklub, show up wanting the same, while Han takes a moment, a breath, to realize he's pretty much screwed. © Lucasfilm.
Han, in a vain attempt to stall time, keeps talking and when told he has swindled the gang not once, but twice, he follows-up saying, "What was the second time?" basically admitting the first time actually did happen. © Lucasfilm.
Writing 101: you have monsters in cages and your character is worried about them escaping because they're so dangerous. Those monsters better escape and be more than dangerous. The rathtars do indeed get out making the situation both better and worse for Han. © Lucasfilm.
How awful are the rathtars? They have teeth, tentacles, can roll toward you, and also gobble you up with ease. In a quick visual gag, BB-8 narrowly evades this rathtar who burps out one of the gang member's boots. © Lucasfilm.
It's All About the... Timing
It's not necessarily a funny moment, but it is a payoff from the moment Rey had when Han gave her a blaster asking, "You know how to use one?" Rey says simply, "Pull the trigger." And in this split second of desperation she realizes she left the safety on. © Lucasfilm.
Jedi mind tricks have always be a source of amusement both when they work and when they don't. We wish it would work for all of us in precarious situations like this one where Rey believes she must have the Force and uses it on the Daniel Craig stormtrooper to escape. © Lucasfilm.
And what happens? This messenger knows it's better not to run lest he makes his situation worse for himself. But he must stand his ground while Kylo Ren obliterates anything with a blinking light around him. © Lucasfilm.
Kylo Ren's wrath, and temper, are known all over Starkiller base, and these Stormtroopers are having none of by slinking away down the all probably admitting to themselves that they saw nothing. © Lucasfilm.
Han's True Self
Han discovers Finn's job was sanitation and realizes we all just put the fate of the galaxy in the hands of someone usually using those hands to push brooms. Finn's a lot like Han, everyone underestimates him, even himself, but he rises to every occasion. © Lucasfilm.
Perhaps this is a bit of fan service, but I'll allow it. We always thought as kids that Chewie had the best weapon, his bowcaster. Han had apparently never fired it until this act of desperation to protect his friend. After which he declared, "Wow," impressed by the power of it. © Lucasfilm.
In the next humorous episode
So, what did I miss? What other moments from The Force Awakens brings you a smile or a laugh? Post in the comments.
Next time, I continue in release order and look at the funny stuff from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Oh, did I say Revenge of the Sith was the saga's darkest chapter? Does Rogue One give it any contrast? Does its pathos allow for any humor at all? Perhaps it does in the form of a 4-letter word ... no not that kind of 4-letter word ... I mean something like perhaps maybe K2SO ... tune in next time! Thanks for reading.