Star Wars Rebels Reviews!

I was able to follow through on my promise to review Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, however it is not going to be posted on What’s In A Story. Instead it going be released on Fandom Factory who has been gracious enough to me allow to post these reviews on the site. I will also be releasing other content in time so stay tuned. In the meantime go and check out my review on the Season 3 premiere “Steps Into Shadow.”

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First Thoughts – Moana Trailer

Technically while this is not the only trailer Disney has released, this is the first time I have seen any promotional material for Moana. I mean I have caught glimpses before, but I kept myself from watching so I could write a “First Thoughts” post when the time was right. Now the time has come…wow that sounded more ominous then it was supposed to. Anyway on to my initial impressions of Moana.

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Sailing for adventure on the big blue wet thing.
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Epic shot!
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Follow the glowing blue current.

 

What stood out to me when I was watching the trailer was the presence of the ocean. I mean there is water in almost every shot within this trailer and I am sure the same is true for the movie as well. I was impressed animation and how they made the ocean look look realistic and how its appearance changes depending on what is going on a particular scene. Just like Frozen’s focus was on snow and ice, Moana is going to be focused on water and the ocean. The only different the movie’s title is the main character’s name instead of a verb (or adjective) for freezing conditions.

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I love this reaction 🙂
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The Hero of Men folks.

 

And while we are on the subject Moana herself she appears to be an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary in the sense that she goes on a hero quest to save her people by teaming up with the demigod Maui in order to prevent an oncoming disaster. Now as the trailer clarifies Maui is a shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, and hero of men. He has great power, but seems to have a pretty sizable ego as well. Needless to say Moana is very brave not only in seeking him out but also in calling him out when he makes the wrong assumptions about her. Of course having the ocean for a friend also helps especially when the demigod of the wind and sea throws you off your boat.

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High Five-O!
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Demigod or not, you’re on my canoe now.

 

 

 

 

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Just your average quest to save the world.

This trailer while it gives a taste of what is to come, I am the first to say I am not entirely sure what it is. The story of Moana is based of Polynesian mythology from the Central and South Pacific Islands which the state of Hawaii is a part of, and I am not as familiar with those stories as others are. Whether I watch it in the theaters or wait for the DVD/download release it will be interesting to see the journey that Moana and Maui are going to take.

The 3 R’s of Stargate SG-1 – Retribution, Repentance & Reconciliation

For those who thought I was referring to the other 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) I apologize in advance. But seriously at first I was only going to talk about repentance, but then I thought about adding retribution and reconciliation as I went through the researching process. I also was planning to discuss multiple media examples but I found one that was able to exemplify all of the 3 R’s: the show Stargate SG-1 and the episode “Cor-ai.”

For those who are unfamiliar, Stargate SG-1 is a TV series, which was a continuation of the original Stargate movie that aired from 1997 to 2007. It follows the story of SG-1, a team consisting Colonel Jack O’Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Captain Samantha (aka Sam) Carter and Teal’c of Chulak. They serve General George Hammond of Stargate Command and are tasked to defend the earth from a parasitic species known as the Goa’uld by exploring new worlds via the Stargate which creates a wormhole between two points in space. Now with that brief synopsis of the series out of the way, on to the episode discussion and just a warning there will be spoilers ahead.

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Teal’c surrounded by the Byrsa.

“Cor-ai” takes place at the end of the first season, and starts off with SG-1 transporting to a new world. Teal’c recognizes the location from the many visits he made when he was the First Prime of the Goa’uld System Lord Apophis. During the team’s investigation they come across the planet’s inhabitants, the Byrsa, who not so welcoming given their frequent contact with the Goa’uld. O’Neill convinces them they are not their enemies and they mean them no harm. Tensions ease for a bit but not before a young man by the name of Hanno sees Teal’c.

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Hanno in the Past.
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Teal’c in the Past.

 

 

 

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Hanno in the Present.
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Teal’c in the Present
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Let the Cor-ai commence.

It is revealed that Teal’c, during his service to Apophis, had killed Hanno’s crippled father. The young man seeks retribution on Teal’c for killing his father through Cor-ai which is the Byrsa culture’s version of a court trial. However Cor-ai is very different from U.S. court trials we may see both in its fictional and non-fictional forms. First off the notion of innocent until proven guilty does not exist in Byrsa culture and it was explained to SG-1 in the episode, “If there were no guilt there would not be Cor-ai.” Second the victim of an offense has the three roles of judge, jury and executioner, and needless to say this concept doesn’t sit well with O’Neill:

Jack O’Neill: “You can’t be the judge, that’s not fair.”

 

Hanno: “Judge?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yeah, the guy who controls the proceedings, decides what happens here.”

 

Hanno: “Why is it not fair?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Because your are the son of the victim.”

 

Hanno: “Yes.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “The judge has to be impartial.”

 

Hanno: “What does that mean?”

 

Daniel Jackson: “Uh, impartiality would require someone who hasn’t already formed an opinion about Teal’c’s guilt or innocence.”

 

Hanno: “How can there be such a person? Everyone who has a mind has an opinion.”

In a desperate attempt O’Neill tries to appeal the Byrsa elder to have someone else judge the Cor-ai. She responds saying, “Only the person who has suffered understands the pain that been inflicted. Who else can fairly say what the punishment must be?” While Cor-ai seems unfair in light of the American justice system, Hanno is well within his rights to seek retribution in this way (within his culture at least). It’s better than just killing Teal’c right then and there and Hanno even acknowledges at the start of the Cor-ai that he was wrong to let his anger control him in that instance. So despite differences in perspective, Cor-ai serves the same purpose as court trials, to carry out justice and prevent revenge killings.

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Hanno questions Teal’c.
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Jack O’Neill’s conversation with Teal’c.

As the Cor-ai commences and Hanno asks Teal’c if he killed his father he replies, “Yes. I am the one who killed your father.” Admittedly he didn’t want to kill Hanno’s father, in fact it is revealed that he shot him not just to appease Apophis but so that the Byrsa would not be slowed down when they had escape into their hidden caves if the Goa’uld were to return to the planet again. While he had the right to blame it on Apophis, Teal’c acknowledges and accepts responsibility for his actions. This is best exemplified through his conversation with O’Neill (apologies for the length but I thought it would be best to show the entire conversation):

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c are you trying to commit suicide?”

 

Teal’c: “I do not understand.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Why didn’t you tell me you were guilty? At least before you told a room full of people that wanna see you dead.”

 

Teal’c: “You already knew, only you did not want to hear it. That is why you asked me not to speak.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “What happened?”

 

Teal’c: “Apophis ordered me to kill Hanno’s father.”

Jack O’Neill: “So, you were following orders.

 

Teal’c: “Hanno’s father died by my hand. No one else’s. I am responsible. What I did while serving Apophis, I will not hide from.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Even if the punishment is death?”

 

Teal’c: “Then that is what I deserve.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c, you sound like you wanna die.”

 

Teal’c: “Colonel O’Neill, have you ever faced the crying eyes of a child whose father you have just murdered?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Not exactly. Teal’c, there are a lot things we do that we wish we could change and we sure as hell can’t forget, but the whole concept of chain of command undermines the idea of free will. So as soldiers, we have to do some pretty awful stuff. But we’re following orders like we were trained to. It doesn’t make it easier; it certainly doesn’t make it right, but it does put some of the responsibility on the guy giving those orders.”

 

Teal’c: “Then you are saying Apophis is responsible for Hanno’s father’s death.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yes.”

 

Teal’c: “You are wrong, O’Neill. While in the service of Apophis I did many things. For these deeds, my victims deserve retribution.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Can we focus on this one case only for now please?”

 

Teal’c: “This case represents the many.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Well it shouldn’t! Why? Why are you doin’ this?”

 

Teal’c: “When I look into Hanno’s eyes, I see the horror on the faces of many others, as their loved ones prepare for Goa’uld absorption. Worse yet is the face of the victims whom I selected as they realize they are about to take their final human breath. Hanno’s father is not the first nor the last of those whose lives I’ve taken. And I have done far worse, O’Neill. I cannot give all of their loved ones retribution, but I can at least give it to this one. I am sorry, O’Neill. I will not run.”

I wouldn’t say that Teal’c is giving up but rather he is letting this Cor-ai give him the chance to repent from all the acts he committed as First Prime of Apophis. Teal’c didn’t deny the crime he committed and I guess that is what stood out to me the most when watching this episode. It is rare especially in our society to see someone who is so repentant that they willing to accept retribution from those they have wronged. Despite SG-1’s best efforts to defend Teal’c, Hanno sentences him to be killed by his own staff weapon.

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Teal’c risks his life to save the Byrsa villagers.

Thankfully the story does not end with Teal’c’s death for Goa’uld decided to show up in the Byrsa village just before Teal’c’s execution. Hanno leaves with the other men to fight them off but instructs a boy to inform those in authority to go through with the execution that if he is killed in battle. Unfortunately despite effort of the Brysa men as well as O’Neill and Carter, the Goa’uld discover the location of the women and children along with Jackson and Teal’c. Thankfully Teal’c is able to cut his bonds thanks to the boy who gave him a knife and put his life on the line to save the women and children from the onslaught of Apophis’ Serpent Guards. After risking his life to save the Byrsa villagers, Teal’c still hands over his staff weapon prepare for his execution by Hanno’s hands. This is the conversation that followed:

Hanno: “You would save those who wish to kill you?”

 

Teal’c: “I would save those who deserve to live.”

 

Hanno: “I have made a mistake. My memory is faulty. You are not the same man as he who murdered my father.”

 

Teal’c: “I am the one.”

 

Hanno: “No that Jaffa is dead…”

In that moment there was reconciliation as Hanno gives Teal’c his staff weapon back and allows him to go back to Earth with SG-1.

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Hanno returns Teal’c’s staff weapon.

In some ways the justice system we see in “Cor-ai” is similar to how God operates. Like Teal’c, we all deserve retribution at the hands of God for all the sins we have committed against Him. We also have the same choice as Teal’c to repent and confess our wrongdoings to God. Finally we all have the ability receive reconciliation from God but unlike Teal’c we don’t need to prove ourselves worthy. Romans 5:6-8 explains:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God has already forgiven us and paid the price for our sin through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. All we need to do is to repent and accept that forgiveness for the wrong we have done and will do. It is only when we do this that true reconciliation is accomplished and the promise from Jeremiah 31:34 is fulfilled:

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

In this way we begin life anew and just like Hanno’s words to Teal’c the old self we leave behind is dead. That still doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t over but we live in the knowledge that we are free from the retribution of sin through our act of repentance and our acceptance of God’s reconciliation through His death and resurrection. That leaves only one question: Are you ready to lose your life in order to save it?

Dungeons & Dragons Review – S1 E1 “The Night of No Tomorrow”

Now just as I promised here is my first review series and the TV show I will be reviewing is…Dungeons & Dragons. When I saw this Dungeons & Dragons DVD collection at a local bargain retail store for a dollar (yep seriously it was one dollar) and I thought I’d give it a shot. I guess I shouldn’t have expected much, but then again I was hopeful that it might be entertaining. And what you know it had a lot of 80s cheese and was also more confusing that I thought it was going to be. So this is my summarization of my initial impressions on Dungeons & Dragons‘s pilot episode “The Night of No Tomorrow.”

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Ahhh, title screen.
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Pilot episode? What’s that?

First we have the introduction to the story and characters that is done in the span of 2 minutes. Talk about suspension of disbelief…or not in the case of 6 teens and pre-teens ending up in a world of magic just from riding a theme park ride. Probably my major compliant about this episode is that they don’t take time to set up the story and characters. I would have loved to see what the kids were like in our world and then see their adjustment to the fantasy world right after it happened. However this first episode seems more like a follow-up and you feel like you are missing something when you are watching it for the first time. Despite this I will do my best to summarize the plot.

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Purpose…this Dungeon Master says. There is no purpose for this series. Well other than further promote the game Dungeons & Dragons.

After the kids trap a multi-headed dragon creature called Tiamat, the Dungeon Master (who looks like a more human version of Yoda) appears and tells them that they might find something that will help them return home in the village of Helix which is having a millennial celebration the magician Merlin’s banishment of fire-breathing dragons that had plagued the town. But he warns the kids that they might come across Venger (the enemy of the series and voiced by Peter Cullen of all people) and they will know him by his white hair. Or is hare?

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Castles in the sky…now where have I heard that before?

After he vanishes the kids make their way through the desert and come across Merlin’s floating castle. After they climb up a ladder leading up to the castle they are greeted by Merlin himself who holding a white rabbit. They initially were suspicious of him due to his white hair but it’s soon revealed to be a toupee. He tells them the story of Helix again and one of kids Eric (the annoying jerk of the group) says he’s had enough and proceeds to leave only to encounter Tiamat again. How she got into a floating castle in the sky? She flew of course. The kids and Merlin trap the multi-headed dragon in the castle’s dungeon.

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Cast coming across a dungeon while being chased by a multi-headed dragon. Well at least it fits with the title of the series.
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The Magician’s Apprentice…not what I was expecting.

The kids are about to leave for Helix but the magician Presto (I can’t believe that’s his name) decides to stay to learn more about magic from Merlin as his apprentice. Merlin instructs him to stir the cauldron, but while he is out of the room Presto takes a look at the book he’s instructed not to look at in order to find a spell that will help him and his friends return home.

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Oh great Presto! You unleashed hell!

Unfortunately the spell that Presto casts unleashes the dragons that Merlin had imprisoned. It is soon after that he discovers that Merlin is not Merlin at all but Venger (remember the white hare aka rabbit) who used Presto to release the dragons because only his “good” magic could undo the original Merlin’s spell. This begs the question: Why did the original Merlin cast a spell that could be undone? Anyway while Presto stands there dumbfounded Venger takes his hat and Presto doesn’t do anything to stop him. Come on man, you can at least struggle with Venger for your hat. You might not succeed in getting it back but you can still try can’t you?

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Don’t just stand there you idiot! Get your magic hat back!

After the dragons commence their attack on Helix the kids quickly figure out what happened and head back to the sky castle to find Presto. They face Venger who says if they hand over their magical items and he would let them go. It is actually really surprising having a villain whose initial goal does not involve hurting or killing the heroes/heroines. The rest of the kids refused to so, at least they don’t just stand there and let Venger take their weapons like Presto.

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Evil Magic…
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Good magic.

 

 

 

 

 

They come up with a plan to counter Venger by releasing Tiamat from the dungeon they trapped her in while Presto casts the spell to seal the dragons again, saving Helix in the process. The kids escape from the castle where Dungeon Master appears again and returns Presto’s hat. How did Dungeon Master get Presto’s magic hat back? No time for that, the kids are now off on their next adventure as they try to find their way back home to the 1980s.

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To borrow from Nostalgia Critic, explain D&D! Explain!

While it is not the worse show ever I realized after watching this first episode that there was a lot I did not understand. I think it’s due to the fact that I am not the intended audience; it was intended for the young people who grew up during the early 80s. That’s all well and good but this prevents it from being universally understood and only serves to date the series even more. To those you have fondness for Dungeons & Dragons I am glad you can enjoy it for what it is. As for me the only enjoyment I had was in awkwardly chuckling at it. I plan to watch all the episodes on the DVD despite my cringing and convey my thoughts on them for future posts. Who knows maybe it’ll get better or perhaps I am glutton for punishment but we’ll see how long I last.

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One thing we all can agree is that Eric deserved to be left with a cow.