Mindy Newell: Review Redux


Cat Grant: One time at a party, Paul McCartney swore to me that he and Yoko were the closest of friends. He was more convincing.

Cat Grant not accepting Kara Danvers’ statement that she (Kara) is not Supergirl

Rey: There are stories about what happened.

Han Solo: It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real.

Listen Up! Spoilers Abound, So If You Don’t Want To Know, Don’t Read This Column.

A few weeks ago, four days before Christmas to be exact, I said that I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and had problems with Supergirl.  While I still love Episode VI of a saga that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there are two things that bother me. Silly things, to be sure, but just enough to pick at my enjoyment a teensy bit:

I miss the 20th Century Fox fanfare that opened all the other Star Wars movies.

Composed in 1933 by Alfred Newman, head of the studio’s music department, the extended version – which is the one that became so integral to the films – debuted with The Robe, the first film to be shown in Cinemascope. But it had been phased out by the late ‘70s by the then-struggling-to-survive studio when its savior, George Lucas – who had always loved the logo, the sweeping spotlights, and the fanfare – insisted on its use in his “little space opera fantasy.” Then, when John Williams developed the theme to Star Wars, he used the same key as the fanfare, and has said that it was meant to be an extension of Alfred Newman’s work.

And so, ever since May 25, 1977, all of us have felt their heartbeats quicken, felt goose bumps prickle their skin, and felt the hairs on the back of our necks stand up in anticipation and salute as those drums, those trumpets, those sweeping spotlights acted as a clarion call to that galaxy so far, far way where an epic adventure happened such a long time ago. It became such an intrinsic part of the Star Wars universe that it’s now part and parcel of the soundtracks of the first six movies

Seeing a Star Wars movie introduced by Sleeping Beauty’s castle – a “side effect” of Disney’s ownership of the franchise – just ain’t the same, folks.

The only pilot I want to see flying the Millennium Falcon is Han Solo – with Chewie at his side, of course.

Seeing the Falcon in action again after 30+ years, soaring and doing loop-de-loops and evading TIE fighters, was almost like a religious experience, except for one thing – it wasn’t Han and Chewie at the controls. I can’t really explain it, I know it’s kind of dumb: after all, Lando Calrissian flew the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” in Return of the Jedi – but I’ll tell you a secret: I always objected to that, too.

Just to get the bad taste out of my mouth, I’ll tell you what I did absolutely love in The Force Awakens:

The climatic scene between Han Solo and his son, Ben, now known as Kylo Renn, on a catwalk stretching across a seemingly bottomless abyss inside a technological marvel.

A perfect callback to the climatic scene in The Empire Strikes Back, as another father – Darth Vader, once known as Annakin Skywalker – confronted his son, Luke, and revealed truth to him as they faced off on another catwalk high above a seemingly endless abyss inside another technological marvel.

Also a few weeks ago, in the same column (four days before Christmas to be exact), I listed some of my complaints about Supergirl. Well, with the advantage of having watched new episodes of the series, I take back much of what I said:

“We met Aunt Astra and we know right away that she’s evil. She might as well have had a mustache to twirl. We shouldn’t even have known who she was – tease us, fool us. Mix us up. Maybe sometimes she’s good, sometimes she’s bad, maybe she’s somewhere in the middle. What’s her relationship with Kara? And since we’re supposed to be identifying with Kara, that should have been her deal as well.”

It’s almost as if the writers read my column, although of course that’s incredibly egotistical of me, and besides, I’m pretty sure that Astra’s back story and relationship to Kara was already in the show’s “bible.” It turns out that Astra is a villain depending on what side of the argument you hold to – is she an “eco-terrorist,” or an “eco-hero?”  Some argue – as Astra does – that desperate times call for desperate measures, that the needs of the many outweigh needs of the few, or the one. And her relationship with her niece, Kara, is becoming way more complicated as truths about Kara’s mother are being revealed.

“Kara was stuck in the Phantom Zone for years. And this hasn’t had any lasting affects? No emotional or psychological hang-ups? No anger issues at her cousin for dumping her in some strangers’ laps and flying off? No PTSD from seeing her parents, her civilization, her planet from being blown to kingdom come? Did the Danvers even attempt some sort of therapy? She should have trouble forming relationships, she should have trust issues, jeez, let’s see some anger.”

Confrontations with her Aunt, with her sister, Alex, with Cat Grant, with James and with Winn, with Maxwell Lord, with General Lane, and even her hologram mother…

The perky girl is still perky and kind and bubbly, but she’s letting the spunk and anger out, too. You go, SuperGRRRL!

“How many times and in how many ways can Kara talk about proving herself? This fast became a one-trick pony that quickly wore out its welcome and became a whine that is repeated in each and every episode as expository statements to her sister, to Jimmy, to Winn, to Hank…hey, Kara, take a tip from Yoda: “Did not you see Strikes Back the Empire Does? Do, or do not. There is no try.” Seriously, I’m waiting for somebody to tell her to just shut the fuck up already.”

She ain’t whining no more. Well, no so much, anyway. She’s absorbing Nike’s words of wisdom. Just Do It.

One thing that does piss me off big time!:

J’inn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, a.k.a. Hank Henshaw, used his morphing ability to impersonate Supergirl and paid Cat Grant a visit as Supergirl just as the real Kara walks into her boss’ office, thus convincing Cat Grant that Kara Danvers isn’t the Kryptonian Maid of Steel.

No! No! No!

The sad and hackneyed use of a friend of the superhero impersonating said superhero so that said superhero could be seen at the same time and in the same place as said superhero’s secret identity – Batman impersonating Superman to throw Lois Lane off the scent, for instance – oh, come on! That went out back in the 1960s, for cryin’ out loud!

I’m holding on to the hope that Cat Grant is only playing dumb.