Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Review: "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the stakes have never been higher for our heroes and villains.  They are literally facing annihilation, unless they can change and overcome their past.

The film starts in a post-apocalyptic future where the cast of the original three X-Men movies (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, etc.) are all that are left after mutant hunting robots, called Sentinels, have killed most mutants on the planet.  Utilizing the super powers of Kitty Pride, Professor X decides to send Logan back in time to 1973, to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating a key figure, which ultimately led to the creation of the future the X-Men are facing.  It's a mindbending storyline for sure, but it all works beautifully, flowing gracefully between the past and the future with a logical ease that is missing in many time travel movies.

From the very moment this film was announced, fanboys have been rabid in their anticipation, and this film doesn't disappoint.  The filmmakers figured out how to give the original X-Men cast a proper send off, while making a sequel to the 2011 prequel, X-Men: First Class, at the same time.  Plus, the time travel nature of the story has enabled them to wipe out some of the continuity mistakes of the previous X-Men films to rectify many of the stupid decisions made in films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine or X-Men: The Last Stand.  This film was clearly made by fans, for the fans, and the fact that it's also just an exceptionally well made blockbuster is the icing on the cake.

There is a lot of action in this film, with more mutants and more super powers featured than in any previous X-Men movie.  Every action scene was thrilling and satisfying, and there are many fan service moments here.  However, the greatest aspect of this film is that it isn't your typical superhero flick.

Usually, the first question people have about superhero movies is:  Who is the bad guy?  In Days of Future Past, while there are the Sentinels and their creator, Bolivar Trask, the real villains of the story are our heroes themselves.  The problems they are facing are all based on the choices and mistakes they made in the past, and it's about their past selves having to face up to what they will become in the future to overcome their own pasts in order to write a better future for mutants and humanity.  It's in this focus on overcoming your past, that gives Days of Future Past an emotional weight that blockbusters often lack in the modern era, and if you're a long time fan of the series, there are moments in this film that will not only make you laugh and want to cheer, but will also move you deeply.

I can't do anything other than highly recommend X-Men: Days of Future Past to anyone who considers themselves an X-Men fan.  While people who aren't quite as well versed in the franchise might find themselves lost given the vast amount of characters, I still think the film is entertaining enough on its own accord that just about any moviegoer can have a good time here.

I give X-Men: Days of Future Past an A!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie Review: "Godzilla"

If you have been hankering for a good giant monster movie, then Godzilla definitely fits the bill.  The King of the Monsters returns in true heroic fashion in this American-made reboot, that makes the last American-made attempt in 1998 look like a joke.

In this Godzilla, when a new monster, named MUTO, starts to wreak havoc across the Pacific, he eventually draws the attention of Godzilla, leaving the humans to try and find a way to save humanity before we're all destroyed.  There is a lot more to the story than that, but that is the basic gist of this movie.  There are giant, radioactive monsters upsetting the balance of nature, and Godzilla must perform his sacred duties to restore that balance.  As a matter of fact, that's one of my favorite things about this new Godzilla, is that they make him the hero of the story, by painting this idea that the reason for Godzilla's existence is to maintain the delicate balance of nature.

Cutting straight to the point, the monsters are the stars of this movie.  Like all Godzilla movies, the human characters are merely there for exposition and to create an emotional avatar for the audience to experience all the insanity through.  Even still, there are some top notch talent creating that anchor, from small, yet crucial performances by Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche, to a nice Everyman turn by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins as scientists who are the source of all exposition.  While I feel the filmmakers could have pushed the human characters a little bit further, all in all, the human characters always work to create empathy when they're onscreen, and isn't that their purpose when the world is being destroyed around them?

Truthfully, the real takeaway from this film, for me, is director Gareth Edwards.  With just two feature films to his credit now, he has quickly become one of the directors to watch.  Edwards' work here is nothing short of phenomenal.  All of the action is represented from the perspective of the human characters, with cutaways to the monsters bashing one another rarely not seen, but rather experienced via destruction and how it is affecting the human characters on the ground.  As well, Edwards has quite possibly the most important skill a director needs, which is a great sense of place.  The way he shoots these action scenes, and any scene for that matter, gives you a great feel for the space in which each scene takes place in.  You are rarely lost or confused when watching the chaos unfold in this film, and that's a credit to a meticulous craftsman.

Ultimately, Godzilla is everything you could want from a Godzilla movie.  While I feel the characters could have been pushed a little further towards a third dimension, they are relatable and perform their duty at setting up the epic battle at the end between Godzilla and not one, but two MUTOs.  I especially loved the conspiracy theory angle that permeates the first half of the film, creating an air of eerie suspense that I really dug, as well, the musical score by Alexandre Desplat is very different than any of his other work, often harking back to the great John Williams' scores of past.  Simply put, Godzilla is a great Summer blockbuster, and is the first one of Summer 2014 that is actually worth seeing.

I give Godzilla an A-!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Potential New Film Franchises for Hollywood

Yesterday it was announced that Lionsgate and Saban Brands would be teaming up to bring the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers back to the big screen, and it got me thinking -- what other potential franchises have Hollywood been forgetting about?

Perhaps the single most frustrating thing about the current state of Hollywood, is its obsession with franchises based on pre-existing characters.  No longer can a film simply be made, with no intentions of a sequel, and it's almost just as rare for a film to be made that isn't based on a pre-existing idea or character from a book, comic book, or TV show.  Now, I am not railing against all franchises, but more so against the franchise mentality.  For every good franchise based off of pre-existing ideas, like the films of Marvel Studios, there are ones that make you scratch your head.  I mean, just in the past few months, they have announced feature film versions of Barbie, the It's a Small World ride from Disney World, and the marshmallow birds known as Peeps, joining Hot Wheels, Angry Birds, and many other pre-existing properties as things being turned into movies that shouldn't be turned into movies in the first place.  To think, these films are getting the money that some original idea, that could have been the next Star Wars, will never get.

Even still, while I do feel that Hollywood is a little too obsessed with anything that has name brand recognition nowadays, I have found three pre-existing franchises that Hollywood has yet to even really try to develop (at least faithfully), for the big screen.  All three I think have the potential to be long lasting franchises, and it's kind of crazy to think that we're gonna get a film based off of Angry Birds before we get any of the films I mention below.  Alas, there is often little justice in this world.  Here are the three potential film franchises that I think Hollywood needs to snap up.



Why Disney has not made a live action feature based on Gargoyles is beyond me.  This early Nineties' Saturday morning cartoon may not seem like an obvious franchise on paper, but to those who have seen it, we know how great a Gargoyles film could be.  

Gargoyles tells the story of a group of medieval Scottish gargoyles in modern New York, who sit encased in stone by day, only to be brought to life by night.  Once brought to life, they become shadowy protectors of New York City, aided by their newfound human friend, Detective Elisa Maza.  

This is arguably one of the most dark cartoons ever made that was targeted towards kids.  While there is levity that often comes from the quirky personalities of the individual gargoyles (often reminiscent of the Ninja Turtles), the show often dealt with much darker fare than the average Saturday morning cartoon.  There were life and death stakes on this show, a Saturday morning cartoon that employed Shakespearean archetypes and mythology to create one of the most unique blends of fantasy and superhero action ever created, that ultimately created its own vast mythological tapestry.

As far as my research has brought up, there has never even been discussion of a Gargoyles movie, neither animated, nor live action.  The truth of the matter is, the show was not a huge success in its initial run, and it took till just last year for Disney to finally finish releasing the show on DVD after years upon years of the small, yet dedicated fans' complaints.  The only thing that has kept Gargoyles in the geek consciousness for so long is that small cult following of fans, that I am happy to say that I am a part of.  We know what was so great about this show, and we know what it could still be.

Imagine a live action film, done with a gothic style, reminiscent maybe to the first Tim Burton Batman movie, featuring these hulking gargoyles using make-up, CGI, and puppetry, to bring to life these honorable, occasionally gentle, monstrous warriors.  As for the gargoyles' Lex Luthor-like archnemesis, Xanatos, they need to get the film made before original voice actor, Jonathan Frakes, is too old to play the part in a live action format.  But I think the real reason a Gargoyles film should be made is because it could check off all of the boxes expected of modern blockbusters.  Huge action?  Check.  Quirky humor?  Check.  Dark tone?  Check.  Unlikely romance?  Check.  Potential for hundreds of sequels, prequels, or spin-offs?  Check, check, check.  You get the idea.

Maybe I'm simply dreaming of something that never will happen, but the ball is in Disney's court.  They own the rights to Gargoyles, and they could do this if they wanted to, they just don't seem to want to.  Instead, they'd rather make a movie based on It's a Small World (because that's way cooler than gargoyle superheroes).


The Hardy Boys

Like so many other young boys, I grew up reading The Hardy Boys' books.  The adventures of sleuthing teenage brothers, Frank and Joe Hardy, were always very exciting to me as a kid, and still are enjoyable to me as an adult.  The greatest thing about The Hardy Boys, was that these were real dime store-styled mystery novels that were simply missing the excessive violence and sexuality of the more adult oriented fare.  Over the years, they may have been watered down to play toward the child audience more, but the original books were merely good Agatha Christie-ish mystery stories featuring two nosy teenagers as the protagonists.  Adding to the believability of Frank and Joe Hardy is the fact that their Dad is a real detective that they often assisted, against his will, on his investigations.  Of course, you may be wondering why I think this would be a good film franchise, and it's because, if done right, it could be like nothing else out there.

My personal feeling is that if anyone is to do a Hardy Boys movie, then they need to do it in the original 1920s' setting of the books.  I think setting the film in the Twenties, and then giving it a film noir, or maybe even a Rear Window tone and style, would create a film franchise unique to anything Hollywood is currently producing.  What I don't think they should do is add in a bunch of stupid humor and transplant the characters into modern day (like that bad Nancy Drew movie a few years ago), to try and appeal to modern children.  The original stories appealed to me as a kid because they were serious, and they made me feel the mystery and the suspense.  That's what I would want from the movie, and if no one in Hollywood can understand or do that, then I don't want them to do it at all.  The thing is, I don't think anyone currently in Hollywood understands these characters.

Just a few years ago, it was rumored that a comedy version of The Hardy Boys called The Hardy Men, was gearing up for production about Frank and Joe as adults, starring Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise.  Thankfully, that film never went anywhere, and if that's the best that Hollywood can do by FW Dixon's creation, then I don't want them to ever touch it again.  However, if they do it respectfully to the original books, then it could open the door to a James Bond type of franchise where you can just continually recast the roles every few films or so and make films into infinity.  Not to mention the fact that these films would be far cheaper than the average blockbuster, because they aren't sci-fi, action, or fantasy, so they could be more profitable and could be considered successful even if they only do moderate box office numbers.  Then, there's the fact that you could eventually spin-off a series of Nancy Drew films from The Hardy Boys as well.  Maybe have Frank and Joe meet and work with Nancy on a case, and then start Nancy's own series of films set in the same time period.  Just a thought, but one that could result in not one, but two significant film franchises.


Mobile Suit Gundam

In the wake of stuff like Transformers and last year's Pacific Rim, I've only become more convinced that it's not only possible, it's a downright shame that Hollywood has yet to even try to get the rights to make a Mobile Suit Gundam movie.  For those not in the know, Mobile Suit Gundam was a Japanese comic book in the mid-70s, and eventual animated TV show, that spawned a massive franchise in its native Japan that consists of toys, video games, multiple TV shows, comic books, and some animated films as well.  Designed by series creator, Yoshiyuki Tomino, as a story about war, almost every iteration of Gundam always manages to show the grim realities of war, while also being a piece of satisfying sci-fi entertainment.  

The original Mobile Suit Gundam was set in a future where Earth has expanded its reach and created space colonies.  In this future, wars are fought with giant robots called Mobile Suits, that humans climb inside via cockpits in the robots' chest to pilot them.  When the space colonies farthest from Earth secede, a war erupts, and the only hope for the Earth Federation are their newest secret weapon, a special Mobile Suit known as a Gundam.

The reason why I think a Mobile Suit Gundam film should be a reality is because it's a comic book and cartoon that's not cartoony.  Designed from the very start to make the situations feel real and believable, a Mobile Suit Gundam film needs no real heavy lifting to realize in a live action context.  As a matter of fact, Transformers is more implausible than Gundam has ever been, and it's now had four live action films made, why not Gundam?  

A Mobile Suit Gundam film could easily rival any of the great sci-fi franchises Hollywood is currently tinkering with, from Star Wars to Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica.  What makes Gundam so different, is that unlike those other space epics, Gundam has the added bonus of giant robot mechs doing battle, which none of those other franchises have.  Then there's the fact that Gundam still has great, relatable characters that are highly likable at the core of its story, and you have the ingredients for a perfect Summer blockbuster.  Of course, the question is not when Hollywood will come knocking, but if they ever even will?

Film technology has simply gotten to a point where it would be an utter shame if Hollywood continues to ignore Gundam and all of its possibilities.  Japanese company, Bandai, has the rights, so the only way it can even be possible is if a studio can strike a monetary deal with Bandai to use the rights, which is always tough to do when greedy people get involved.  However, I feel that enough people in my generation, especially boys and now, young men, who grew up watching Gundam on Cartoon Network, will turn out in droves for a Gundam film.  Ultimately, I think it will take one of the aforementioned young men to eventually get to a point of power in Hollywood to where they could make a Mobile Suit Gundam film even a possibility, until then, I don't see it happening.  

Whenever a Gundam film does happen though, I think it will be a huge success.  It features everything people want from a good sci-fi adventure.  Tons of action, tons of emotion, awesome heroes, even more awesome villains, and lots upon lots of explosions.  Then, there's the fact that there are dozens of spin-off series that could be adapted, as well as many other follow-up series that highlight different points in the Earth's timeline.  This could be a film franchise that could conceivably go on forever, as long as Hollywood can get onboard.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Power Rangers Are Returning to the Big Screen!

You ever have a moment where you see something and think that someone stole your idea?  That's how I felt when I found out that Lionsgate and Saban Brands are teaming up to create a new film franchise, rebooting the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Of course, I'm joking, however I have thought a few times over the past five years or so that they should reboot the original Power Rangers on the bigscreen, similar to a Spider-Man movie or something.  While there is nothing that says that this is the direction the studio is going with -- with no director, writer, or cast announced yet, there is really no way to tell what type of tone they're going for -- I do think that given Lionsgate's track record with stuff like Twilight and The Hunger Games, this film wont just be targeted solely at kids.

I think that this film has the greatest chance at success by actually trying to play off of nostalgia, and get the young adults who watched this show when it first aired, invested in this movie the same way that they are via stuff like The Avengers.  That's a tall order for a franchise that has always played purely for kids to fulfill, but it's one that I think is entirely possible.  I mean, I am by no means saying that they need to go dark and gritty, but I think that removing a lot of the cheesy one-liners pandering to kids, and making the characters a little more layered and relatable, will perhaps entice older viewers to not only see this film, but enjoy it as well.  Plus, by keeping the film fun and somewhat light, it will still work at getting kids invested, similar to the way both kids and their parents love stuff like The Avengers.  But let me clarify, I am not wanting them to change the core of what has always made the Power Rangers the show it still is to this day.

At the end of the day, this is still gonna be a Power Rangers movie, and so no matter how much more seriously you try to take it, you will have to embrace a certain element of out there silliness.  After all, the original show was pieced together from a bunch of different Japanese TV shows from the Eighties, intercut with new footage and voice-overs from the American actors to make it look like it's all featuring the same people.  Personally, I think they can kind of have fun with this.  Now, I don't think parody is the right way to go, but I do think it would be fun for the team to ponder why the Pink Ranger has a skirt, and the Yellow Ranger doesn't (hint, in the original Japanese show, the Yellow Ranger was a boy, not a girl), or even make a joke about why the only black guy has to be the Black Ranger.  Plus, the original show always had comedy mixed in with the melodrama, which is why I think the Spider-Man approach is the best.

I think if this new film can find the right balance between comedy and melodrama, without traipsing into parody or pandering to the kids in the audience with cheap gags and bathroom humor, these could actually be fun movies with a wide range of appeal.  We'll see what happens.  Currently, there isn't even a rumored release date, so this could be five years off, or it could be coming out next year.  We don't know, so all we can honestly do is speculate.  So given that's all that we can do, what do I think the story for this first film should be?

I think just a clean reboot will work the best.  Just retell the origin of the original five Power Rangers in this first one, saving the saga of the Green Ranger for a second film or something.  The reason for this is because there will need to be so much time devoted to simply setting up the five original Rangers, as well as their villain, Rita Repulsa, their mentor, Zordon, and his helper, Alpha 5, that attempting to squeeze in the Green Ranger would be too much.  Let's just have the Rangers get their powers, learn how to work as a team, and then have to take down Rita at the end, perhaps featuring a knock down drag out fight between a giant Goldar and the Megazord.  Bottom line, keep this first one simple, make it fun, action packed, and give it some heart, and I think people will be pleasantly surprised.

I'll say more later whenever we actually know more about it, my only one real request is they use the original theme song as the theme for these new movies (posted below).

Friday, May 2, 2014

Movie Review: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

In the follow up to 2012's reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, we find Spider-Man on a journey to further figure out the mystery surrounding his parents' death, all the while going toe-to-toe with the new big bad guy in town, known as Electro.

I'm gonna get straight to the point, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not as good as the other Spider-Man films, but it is a piece of popcorn entertainment that will entertain for most of it's two plus hour run time.  However, as a fan, I cannot lie and say that I am not disappointed by this film, and as an amateur film critic, I have to be honest and point out how cluttered the film often feels.

In all honesty, they just tried to pack too much into this one movie to try and set up future films and spin-offs, like Venom and The Sinister Six.  There is not a clear focus to this film, unlike any of the other Spider-Man films.  It's unclear as to what the filmmakers were actually trying to do here.  Is it the story of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy?  Is it the story of how Spidey met Electro?  Or is it the story of the Green Goblin?  It's all of those things and a whole lot more, but there is never enough time devoted to any one of those story threads for them to feel fully fleshed out and satisfying on their own.  I really think the culprit for all of this is in the Spidey producers trying to be like Marvel Studios and The Avengers.

No longer can a superhero movie be simply a good standalone movie, and if that one is successful, they make another one with a similar, single-minded focus.  Now, in the wake of the massive amount of cash The Avengers brought in, every superhero film franchise has to create this larger than life canvas of multiple films intersecting to create a larger story.  While I love The Avengers, here's one of the things that Marvel Studios has done for almost all of their films, which The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did not do.  They made every one of their superhero films good standalone films on their own right, and not just films that had to be seen in the larger context to be liked or understood.  I mean, look at both of the Captain America movies.  Take those away from the context of The Avengers, and they're phenomenal films irregardless, but add in the ingredient that is The Avengers, and you get super awesomeness.  The thing is, the key is making one good film, and not placing so much focus on the future that you forget about the present.  Of course, what really makes me feel conflicted here is that there are just a good many things that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does right.

Andrew Garfield is once again phenomenal as Spider-Man, and Emma Stone is even more lovable as Gwen Stacy (as if that was possible).  The film truly shines in the romantic scenes between Stone and Garfield, particularly because those are the scenes, alongside the music montages, where it feels like director Marc Webb is most comfortable.  There are moments where I see that spark from his music video work and (500) Days of Summer, and in the midst of all the spectacle and bombastic action, it is those moments that stuck with me more than anything else.  Somewhere in the midst of all of the excess that this film has, there is a very innocent and true romance, and I think that is the real focus of this film, but it's often pushed aside for too long to develop something that may not pay off for another film or two.  As a matter of fact, if the film was purely about Peter and Gwen's romantic woes and Electro, I'd have been a happier Spider-Man fan, because I really like what actor Jamie Foxx and the filmmakers did with Electro, alas he gets the shaft after about the first hour mark.

Maybe I'm becoming a bit of a movie curmudgeon, but the more and more I analyze films, the more I realize, the simpler you often make the story, the better the film.  While that may not always be the case, I think here, it is.  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just too bloated, feeling like three different films crammed into the run time of just one.  While it is a film that you will have fun at, laugh at, and actually feel something at, it is not a great film, it's simply okay.  I actually remember reading another review the other day where they said, had this film been made in the Nineties, it would be one of the best superhero movies ever made, but made now, when we have so many other top notch superhero films, many of which being other Spider-Man movies, it just pales in comparison.  Even still, if you can accept that this is not the greatest Spider-Man film, you will enjoy yourself with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which I did for at least three-fourths of this film, I just wish it had all tied together a little better.

I give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a C+!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is Daisy Ridley Jaina Solo?

Left: Jaina Solo; Right: Daisy Ridley
Ever since the announcement of the Star Wars: Episode VII cast on Tuesday, I just can't stop thinking about it.  While they answered the most pressing question fans had, as to whether or not the original trilogy cast members would return, in traditional J.J. Abrams fashion, more questions were raised by not detailing the names of the new characters in the film, creating fan speculation all over the internet.  No other casting announcement in the new film has created more speculation than that of 21-year-old British newcomer, Daisy Ridley.  A relative unknown with only a few British television credits to her name and an upcoming horror film, Ridley has become an overnight sensation, with very few people having really seen any of her work yet.  Ever since the other day, I have been doing my due diligence, reading other people's theories and researching the new cast, and I think I might have learned who Daisy Ridley is playing, the daughter of Han and Leia.

I know the other day I seemed unsure about who Ridley was playing, even assuming that she stole the role from Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, pretty much nixing the idea that she was Han and Leia's daughter in my mind.  However, there was an article the other day stating that Ridley was the first new cast member added way back in February, before the alleged talks between Abrams and Nyong'o occurred.  So the rumors of Nyong'o's potential involvement, as well as that of fellow British unknown, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, are still possible, because then I thought about it.  About a month ago, Disney announced that the new film would follow a new heroic trio.  What if this role that Sellers and Nyong'o are being considered for is the third wheel to this trio?  I think it is, especially after reports just yesterday citing that there is still one major role left uncast in the film, and I believe it is the final member of this new heroic trio, which having two of them being girls, and then two of them being black, makes this the most diverse Star Wars cast ever.  Of course, all of this finally allowed my mind to start thinking that Daisy Ridley's character is Han and Leia's daughter.

Ridley at the Table Read between Ford & Fisher
Now, I am not the first person to have come up with this idea, as a matter of fact, this wasn't the first thing that even crossed my mind, but then I began to read other people's theories that she was Han and Leia's daughter, and they all made a whole lot of sense.  First off, many online noted that in the photo of the cast at the script read through, Ridley is seated right between Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.  While that may seem a touch inconsequential, one thing I know about J.J. Abrams is that he loves creating misdirection and mysteries, and he seems just like the kind of guy who would do something this subtle to mess with the minds of fans.  Secondly, there is enough of a resemblance in Ridley to both Ford and Fisher, especially with her being brunette, making it believable that she could be their daughter.  All of this to say, after reading so many of these theories, it all started to click in my own brain, and now I, like so many others, believe that Daisy Ridley is playing Han and Leia's daughter, which actually jives with a lot of the initial rumors I ever heard about Episode VII.

About a year ago, I was hearing from many Star Wars fansites that the main, Luke Skywalker-type character of this new trilogy would be a young woman.  Of course, this got fans thinking way back then that the filmmakers were adapting the character of Jaina Solo, Han and Leia's daughter from the now erased Expanded Universe of books and comic books, for the bigscreen.  Now, while I am not sure Ridley's character will be Jaina Solo, or simply an inspired by daughter of Han and Leia that has a different name, I am almost 99.9% sure that she is going to be the most pivotal role of this new trilgoy and that she is Han and Leia's daughter.  Why do I think she'll be the most pivotal role?  Because of the fact that she was the first new cast member signed.  Why was this the role that Abrams and company felt had to be cast first?  Perhaps, because it is the lead.  You need a good hero, or in this case, heroine, that audiences can fall in love with and identify with, before you can start adding color to the world around them.  Now, the real question is not if Ridley is or isn't the daughter of Han and Leia, but rather, is she ace pilot and Jedi Knight, Jaina Solo?

After the news last Friday that the only things that are considered Star Wars canon are the six films and The Clone Wars TV show, it cast a lot of doubts in the minds of fans as to whether or not they'd ever see fan favorite characters like Jaina Solo realized, but there is a high likelihood that Ridley may be Jaina.  What makes me think that there is still hope for her being Jaina, is the fact that Lucasfilm reiterated last Friday that while all of the countless books, comics, and video games, of the now alternate Expanded Universe are no longer canon, they may still serve as inspiration for future characters and worlds in the new official canon involving the new films -- much as to how The Clone Wars indoctrinated EU favorites like the Night Sisters and Quinlan Vos into official canon.  If this same approach is applied, then I find it entirely logical that Daisy Ridley is Jaina Solo.  Of course, the biggest monkey wrench in this theory is that Jaina is such a known commodity already that any changes might anger fans.

Here's the thing, if Daisy Ridley is Jaina, fans will already think they know what happens to her in this film, and if the filmmakers don't do exactly as the now non-canon books did with her character, then they'll be upset.  It's a no-win situation for J.J. Abrams and the rest of the cast and crew.  No matter how likable and cool they make the character, if J.J. and company deviate from the non-canon source material with the character, fans will be upset.  However, if J.J. and company are forced into sticking with as much of the non-canon books as possible in order to not peeve fans, then they're shackled down to what they can and cannot do with these new films.  As I said, it is a no-win situation, which is why I think it is more likely that Ridley is an inspired by version of Jaina that is still Han and Leia's daughter, just named something else.  Of course, if Ridley is Jaina Solo, the other big question would be where is her twin brother, Jacen?  An equally important character in the now non-existent Expanded Universe.  Well, I have a theory for that too, and prepare, cause it's a doozy.

L: Adam Driver; R: Jacen Solo
I think, if Ridley does turn out to be Jaina Solo, then Adam Driver will be playing Jacen.  Now, I know it has been reported that Driver will be playing the villain of this new trilogy, and you may be saying, but how can Han and Leia's son be the bad guy, but in the now non-canon stories, Jacen turned to the dark side and had to be killed by Jaina.  This actually jives with the initial report that Driver would not really be the primary villain until the second and third films in the new trilogy, leading me to think that he'll start Episode VII, perhaps as a good character who falls into the dark side.  However, my theory, if this all pans out, is that they wont kill Jacen off.  We have never seen a Sith live to transform back into a Jedi.  What if the end game of this potential Jacen and Jaina story is to not have Jaina kill her twin brother, but have her lead him back to the side of the Light?  This is all me being hypothetical and spouting off theories, but I think that would be an incredibly cool storyline.

Irregardless as to who Driver is playing in this film, I think Ridley is for sure Han and Leia's daughter.  While I can always be wrong, I think the chances are exceptionally good that Daisy Ridley will at least be an inspired by version of Jaina Solo.  Till anything else is further revealed, all we can do is wait and see.