A ToddAndrewBarnett.com Spoiler-Filled Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

[Disclaimer: if you haven’t seen the movie at the movie theaters, on Blu-Ray, on DVD, or on Digital HD yet and don’t want to be exposed to any spoilers, read no further, please? Thank you. – TAB]

Pre-Preview Revelations

On a clear Monday afternoon, on December 21, 2015, my mom and I went to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens which started at 12:30 p.m. EST at the Emagine Macomb Theatre. Considering Mom and I agreed that she would reimburse me the money for the two tickets for the movie, I used my PayPal MasterCard debit card to pay for the tickets.

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens at Emagine Macomb Theatre Tickets Clipping - 10-20-2015

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens at Emagine Macomb Theatre Tickets Part 2 Clipping - 10-20-2015

My mom and I got to the theater about 10 minutes before the movie started to show on the big screen. Knowing in advance that the tickets for the 3D EMAX IN DOLBY ATMOS SOUND showing of the film, I went to the concession stand and purchased a Star Wars popcorn tin for $25, even though I thought it was 25₵ on top of the $7.75 for a large bowl of popcorn, which is what I thought I was gonna be charged. When I was at the counter and the gentleman behind the counter filled up my tin, I know I saw a sign that seemed like it said “Collect All Four for 25₵!” (My vision must be that bad if it said $25.) When I got to the cashier line, my total, along with my popcorn, candy, my large drink (which was a Cherry Coke Zero) and my mom’s small drink (which was a Cherry ICEE), my total came to $39. I was like, “WTF!” The female cashier said, “The [Star Wars] pop corn is $25.” If you collect all four of these tins, you’d be spending upwards of $100 total.

The popcorn tin is now selling as the following:

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens at Emagine Macomb Theatre - Collective Popcorn Tin Clipping - 12-30-2015

Anyway, after my mom filled up her drink and I filled up mine, we walked to the doors of the Auditorium 8 inside the complex. We go to our seats designated D9 aornd D10. We spoke with a fellow gentleman who is, or whom Mom and I perceive to be, a Star Wars fan.  We spoke for a few minutes, thinking that we were going to have some gentle, fun small talk. And that’s what happened just prior to the actual movie showing, considering it was still showcasing TV ads and movie trailers.

By the way, the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War was airing at the theater. It was pretty sweet. I can’t wait for it when it is finally released to all theaters nationwide.

 

Spoiler-Filled Review of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The J.J. Abrahms-directed film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens certainly brings out the Force in all of its die-hard, purist fans and admirers, returning back to a time when movie serials dominated the theaters in the 1930s and when the original Star Wars (later repackaged as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) had its long-awaited premiere on May 25, 1977. When the first film, which was later reclassified as the fourth episode of the entire saga, was released, no one had any idea that the movie would change the film industry as we know it. Indeed it has done exactly that.

The new story picks up 30 years after the heralded events of Episode VI, in which the Second Death Star was destroyed and 34 years after Episode IV in which the First Death Star was pulverized. Much has changed within the last 30 years. The Empire disintegrated into ashes, and arising in its place is the First Order. The Rebellion reformed as the Resistance.

Here’s the text of the movie’s opening crawl:

Episode VII
THE FORCE AWAKENS
Luke Skywalker has vanished.
In his absence, the sinister
FIRST ORDER has risen from
the ashes of the Empire
and will not rest until
Skywalker, the last Jedi,
has been destroyed.

With the support of the
REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa
leads a brave RESISTANCE.
She is desperate to find her
brother Luke and gain his 
help in restoring peace
and justice to the galaxy.

Leia has sent her most daring
pilot on a secret mission
to Jakku, where an old ally
has discovered a clue to
Luke's whereabouts....

 

 

Resistance fighter Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) arrives on the planet Jakku to meet a village elder and retired adventurer named Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) who carries a map of Luke Skywalker’s current location. Dameron’s directive is to attain this map and bring it back to General Leia and the entire Resistance. Immediately, without warning, a squadron of stormtroopers under the command of a new dark lord of the Sith named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) attack and destroy the village, decimating everyone except Poe whom Ren and his First Order forces capture. Poe’s new droid BB-8 is installed with the map and flees with it and, upon first encounter, meets a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who drives a newly-designed speeder bike which she obviously built with spare parts taken from other ships, which she finds in a junkyard settlement.

Ren tortures Poe and, using his evil Sith powers, learns of BB-8. Therefore, he makes it his mission to find that droid before the Resistance gets wind of it. Meanwhile, Stormtrooper FN-1287, after refusing to kill for the First Order, frees Poe from the Order’s clutches, and they escape from a Star Destroyer in a TIE fighter. Dameron names FN-1287 “Finn,”  and the two crash land on Jakku after having been shot down. Finn appears to be the sole survivor of the crash. Finn finally locates Rey and BB-8 claiming to be a Resistance soldier, and the First Order locate and attack them from the sky. The Millennium Falcon is discovered by the three, and they start it up, outpacing the TIE fighters on the run and escape from the planet.

Unexpectedly the Falcon breaks down and becomes captured by a much larger ship piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who both reclaim their old former vessel. Different squads of gangs pursue them to reclaim their debts with Solo aboard the ship and attack; thus, the five escape in the ship in one piece. What happens next? The gangs contact the First Order and inform it of Solo’s involvement. On the First Order’s Starkiller Base, (a Super-Death Star that was converted from a planet to a weapon capable of obliterating other star systems), Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to employ the weapon for the first time. Snoke also inquires Ren as to Solo’s involvement means to him, but Kylo immediately dismisses him, saying he means nothing to him.

The Falcon crew examine BB-8’s map and rapidly determine that it is incomplete. Han tells Finn and Rey the story of what happened to General Leia’s brother and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker – the fact that Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order but disappeared by going into exile after his apprentice Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side and had toppled all that Luke built. From that point on in the movie, they venture all the way to the planet Takodana and meet with cantina proprietor Maz Kanata who says that she can help BB-8 reach the Resistance, but Finn wants to go his own way. Rey finds herself drawn to a vault containing the lightsaber that belonged to Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin Skywalker before him. Suddenly she experiences deep disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz hands over the lightsaber to Finn for safekeeping.

Starkiller Base uses its weapon to destroy the Republic capital and fleet, which leads to the First Order attacking Takodana with the objective of searching for BB-8. Poe, who had been thought by Finn to have been dead, arrives, saving him, Han, and Chewie with the help of Resistance X-wing fighters, revealing that he had survived the TIE fighter crash. Leia then arrives at Takodana with C-3PO (who has a red arm) and reunites with Han and Chewie and meets Finn. Unfortunately, Ren captures Rey and takes her to Starkiller Base. She becomes interrogated by him about the map, but she surprises him by resisting his mind reading. She immediately discovers that she is strong with the Force, using it to escape her cell with a Jedi mind trick.

BB-8 discovers an inactive R2-D2 at the Resistance base on D’Qars. R2 has been out of commission since Luke’s disappearance. The Resistance devises a plan to annihilate the looming Starkiller Base (which is preparing to fire upon it) by deploying an attack upon a critical facility. Leia meets with Han, urging him to bring back their son Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo alive. Han, Chewie, and Finn board the Falcon and head for the base. Once they infiltrate it, they manage to lower its shield, locate Rey, place explosives, and instantly discover Ren. Han finally confronts his son, calling him by his birth name and imploring him to turn from the Dark Side. Although it appears that Ren a.k.a. Ben is conflicted with his feelings, he kills Han, setting off an enraged Chewie who sets off the explosives. Obviously this allows the Resistance X-wing fighters to attack the base and launch a chain reaction by destroying the generator results in the destruction of the Starkiller Base.

Ren, who is injured by what happened on the base, pursues Rey and Finn to the surface. Ren and Finn battle each other with lightsabers, but  Finn becomes overpowered and severely wounded. Rey takes hold of the lightsaber and begins her fight with Ren, thus overpowering him with the Force before they are separated by a fissure on the ground. Snoke orders Hux to evacuate the Starkiller Base and bring Ren to him. As that transpires, Rey and  Chewbie escape the base with Finn in the Falcon. The Resistance celebrates the First Order’s defeat as well as the destruction of the Starkiller Base on D’Qar, while Leia, Chewie, and Rey grieve over Han’s death. Then suddenly R2-D2 awakens and begins to reveal the rest of the map, which sends Rey, R2, and Chewie to an island on a distant planet. When she climbs to the top of the mountain on the island, she finds Luke Skywalker and reaches out with his lightsaber, presenting it to him. Luke looks it, wondering whether he should take it or not. She awaits his decision, hoping he’ll take his weapon.

Conclusion

The movie is filled with lots of exciting special and visual effects, taking Star Wars to a new level of which no has seen before or even heard. It is an infectious treat for the masses with lots of excitement, packing it with lots of memories of the original trilogy, and launching a new trilogy that creates a story line that is reminiscent of the original Star Wars, but at the same time it leaves the audiences begging for more. New excitements and wonders bring about a world for the consuming moviegoers who embrace the mythology of the stories, the characters, and the Force and the concepts that weave it all together.

There is nothing tawdry about the storytelling that brings this script to life as well as the characters in the movie, new and old. It is a delightful confection for one to taste and enjoy at the cinemas for the night, letting one’s imagination go wild with great inspiration, aspiration, and fantasy. George Lucas’s playground is constantly played upon with great reason – because the ideas of Star Wars represent the ideas of justice, individual liberty, freedom, and morality. It’s a morality tale filled with an immutable wisdom of the ages – the idea that power can still corrupt, even if that power has been obliterated. If not obliterated, at least it can be contained. But once the genie is out of the bottle, all the misery and defeat lay at our feet, and eternal vigilance is the price that we must pay to keep such an awesome power under check. And we must thank J.J. Abrahms for bringing this latest tale to the screen to complete the franchise’s surreal, allegorical purpose of attaining that check once and for all.

If Star Wars Episode VII is so delicious, I wonder what’s in store for Episodes VIII and IX? I wonder with glory and amusement. I truly do indeed.

Grade: A

Libertarian Party of Michigan Chair Kim McCurry’s Statement on Libertarians Calling for Occupation of Federal Buildings

Libertarian Party of Michigan Chair Kim McCurry issued a press release on the state party’s website today, in which she responded to the recent apprehension of Ammon Bundy – son of Clive Bundy – and his armed militia men over the land occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the State of Oregon and compared the standoff to the Wounded Knee Incident of 1973. McCurry even correctly and eloquently stated that the incident that happened in the Pacific Northwest can transpire anywhere in the country.

This is what McCurry wrote for the Michigan LP’s press release today:

Libertarian Party of Michigan Kim McCurry's Statement - Libertarians Call for Occupation of Government Buildings - Clip - 02-14-2016

Libertarian Party of Michigan Kim McCurry's Statement - Libertarians Call for Occupation of Government Buildings Part 2 - Clip - 02-14-2016 - Official

 

Kim is correct. The State’s overreach and power over land resources in the United States, thanks to the Obama administration, is quite terrible that the State can punish you easily and can run roughshod over your lives, your property, your resources, your finances, and every facet of your lives. Is this the kind of America that we all should have?

The next time Americans head for the voting booths, pull their booths’ levers, and vote for either the Republican presidential candidate or the Democratic presidential candidate, they should remember one thing: both major parties want to control your lives. The FBI is content with what it’s done to Ammon Bundy and his people. Imagine what it can do to you.

If you want real liberty, vote Libertarian this election cycle. You don’t have any excuse not to do it.

 

Twitter’s Tyrannical Trust & Safety Council: The Twitter Version of ‘The Ministry of Truth’ in Orwell’s 1984


Twitter, the social media site that was launched in 2006 by Evan Williams, CEO Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, and Biz Stone, has launched an Orwellian ruckus in which, according to its blog dated February 9, it has organized a “Trust & Safety Council” that mirrors “The Ministry of Truth” group in George Orwell‘s 1984.* (Considering my blog posts on Twitter as well as Facebook, I mention this latest action from Twitter, because what the private company is doing and employing threatens the First Amendemt-protected rights of its users.)

This is what the company says on its blog:

 

Twitter's Trust & Safety Council Part 1 - Clip - 02-11-2016 Twitter's Trust & Safety Council Part 2 - Clip - 02-11-2016 Twitter's Trust & Safety Council Part 3 - Clip - 02-11-2016 Twitter's Trust & Safety Council Part 4 - Clip - 02-11-2016

As Daniel Payne wrote about this council on his blog piece entitled “Say Hello to Twitter’s Tweet Police” via the Federalist website:

Say Hello to Twitter's Tweet Police Part 1 - Clip - 02-11-2016

Say Hello to Twitter's Tweet Police Part 2 - Clip - 02-11-2016Even Reason covers this latest development at its Hit & Run blog:

Twitter's New Trust and Safety Council Is Its Own Version of 1984s Ministry of Truth Part 1 - Clip - 02-11-2016Twitter's New Trust and Safety Council Is Its Own Version of 1984s Ministry of Truth Part 2 - Clip - 02-11-2016

 

Obviously, this is on the heels of Girls‘ co-creator and actress and author Lena Dunham who recently “quit” the site (more times than she’s changed her bra and underwear) because she felt that the site was no longer a “safe space” for her and demanded a code of conduct protecting women from “hateful and violent statements.” Translation: we need an amendment to the Constitution to protect Lena’s deeply hurt sentiments.

The Hollywood Reporter reports Lena telling Re/code Decode podcast host Kara Swisher:Lena Dunham Quits Twitter for the Umpteenth Time Quote - 02-11-2016Obviously, she’s using the “safe space” rebuke to her critics who have publicly attacked her for various reasons of which we all are aware, including her admission that she molested her younger sister Grace, accused a conservative Republican male college student of allegedly “raping” her while she was attending Oberth College, her anti-male and feminist politics including her sappy love for all things Hillary, her pathetic newsletter Lenny, her lie of her “autobiography” (given it’s been debunked and deemed questionable), and so on.

So that’s how this authoritarian model came into being for Twitter, thanks in part to an anti-male, limousine liberal bitch who despises men, who might as well be a lesbian (not that I care either way!), and who’s lied her way via her shitty-ass book, whose TV show is nothing short of mediocrity, and whose politics is as polarizing as a polar bear.

This is after Twitter’s stock price diving from $69 a share to approximately $15 a share, according to USA Today in its piece entitled “Twitter faces critical moments with Q4 results“:

Twitter Faces Critical Moment with Q4 Results Graph - 02-11-2016

Here’s what USA Today’s earnings forecast says:

Twitter Faces Critical Moment with Q4 Results Earnings Forecast - 02-11-2016

If Twitter knows what’s good for them, the company would not piss off its user base, who can drop the site in a second.

As a private company, Twitter can do whatever it wants. If its want to be tyrannical to its users, it can do that. However, Twitter depends on its users for viability. Without it as well as the users sharing content that they see on the site, the enterprise is a dead husk. Memo to Twitter: don’t piss the fuck off your users, or they will delete their accounts and go elsewhere. Do you want to continue to be relevant? Then jettison the Trust & Safety Council. If you don’t, you will lose your Tweeters, and that’s a huge guarantee right there.

I’m considering the possibility of dropping Twitter and go to an alternative site like Quitter.

As Instapundit noted:

Instapundit on Twitter - Clip 1 - 02-11-2016

[*Note: The hat tip goes to Wendy McElroy, whose husband Brad pointed this monstrosity on her website.]

 

 

Prominent Libertarian Sheldon Richman Unfortunately Supports Bernie Sanders

On February 9 on my Facebook feed, prominent libertarian (well, more of a leftist libertarian) Sheldon Richman unfortunately, with shocking surprise to all within what’s left of the libertarian movement, supports Bernie Sanders.

Yes, I’m talking about *THE* Sheldon Richman who works for the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), who has worked for the Foundation on Economic Education, who happens to be the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS)’s Chair of the C4SS Trustees, and who writes his own blog Free Association.

I must say I am disheartened, dismayed, and disappointed. While I’ve seen a deteriorating effect having been placed on the entire libertarian movement for the longest time, it’s worse now than ever, simply because one of my greatest mentors is supporting a socialist who is vile, diabolical, and tyrannical in every way from an economic and, to a certain extent, social standpoint.

Here’s what he posted on Facebook:

Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 1 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 2 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 3 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 4 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 5 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 6 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 7 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 8 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 10 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 11 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 12 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 13 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 14 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 15 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 16 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 17 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 18 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 18 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 19 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 20 - Clip - 02-10-2016

Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 21 - Clip - 02-10-2016 Sheldon Richman Supports Bernie Sanders Part 22 - Clip - 02-10-2016

 

My reaction on my Facebook  feed was less than kind, so to speak.

My Disheartenment and Dismay of Sheldon Richman Supporting Bernie Sanders Part 1 - Clip - 02-11-2016My Disheartenment and Dismay of Sheldon Richman Supporting Bernie Sanders Part 2 - Clip - 02-11-2016My Disheartenment and Dismay of Sheldon Richman Supporting Bernie Sanders Part 3 - Clip - 02-11-2016

 

Victor Bozzo, who is an Anarchist friend of mine on FB, was both disgusted and wretched over what Sheldon stated and had this to say:

Victor Bozzo Response to Sheldon and Sharing My Post Clip

To see this nonsense from an old mentor is just insanity.

I hate to say this, but Sheldon Richman is no longer my mentor. I’m done with him. He’s been a left-libertarian loon for quite some time, and I’ve held back from stating how I truly felt about him, but his betrayal of his principles was the sledgehammer that broke the camel’s…..or is it Donkey’s?…..back.

The Death of My Father: Five Years Later

Dad on the couch - circa 1992

 

James Marshall Barnett

 

My father was a good man. He had his faults and his shortcomings when he was alive, but at least he was a good man dedicated to his family, his career with the Ford Motor Company, and his passions and interests that defined him entirely.

James Marshall Barnett, who passed away from end-stage four cirrhosis of the liver which had predated 20 years, passed away on February 11, 2011. Today is the day to remember and to honor and cherish not only the last gasping breaths of his life but to remember him for who he was – a wonderful father, a loving husband, and a hard-working man who accomplished a great deal in his life. He served in the United States Marine Corps, which he served for 12 years until he was honorably discharged.

We love you, Dad, now and forever!

James Marshall Barnett Tomb at Glenn Eden

I will pen a piece on my dad, giving my reflections on a later date and showcasing how things have changed for me and my entire family five years after his demise.