We Don’t Deserve Kelly Marie Tran

Kelly Marie Tran, star of Disney’s latest, Raya and the Last Dragon, has been gracing my social feeds again much to my delight. She’s been slaying red carpets and impromptu promo shoots, crushing interviews—even speaking out on the harassment she endured following The Last Jedi. The groundswell of support this time around seems to indicate those days of racist man-boy hatred are long gone. Thing is, I’ve been watching the outpouring of affection towards Kelly Marie Tran with more caution than optimism. Because we’ve been here before, and I ain’t buying it. Continue reading

The Rise of Skywalker and the Limits of J.J. Abrams

For as long as I’ve known him as a moviegoer, J.J. Abrams has done the impossible. He made me a fan of franchises like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. That may sound hyperbolic considering De Palma’s Mission: Impossible is as iconic as its centerpiece CIA heist sequence, and that Star Trek is as immediately recognizable in geek iconography as the mere parting of your fingers. But I was never a fan of either until Abrams put his stamp on both properties.

J.J. Abrams became THE go-to guy to resuscitate any dormant film franchise, and he’s since gone on to shape the modern blockbuster as we know it like a valiant successor to Spielberg. As a result, Hollywood has entrusted him with the reins of not one but two of its most sacred franchises in Star Trek and Star Wars. Needless to say, it’s been very easy to hop on the J.J. Abrams train. Continue reading

Best Movie Trailers of 2019

I love a good movie trailer. Some people don’t care for them. I, however, like to make sure my ass is in the theater well before the movie starts. The ritual of viewing trailers is just as integral to me as the movie I paid to see.

I like to think of a solid movie trailer as one that sells tone more so than plot; gives you a sense of scale and impact more than company branding or, *deep sigh* another cinematic universe. If it does the job, then I won’t need any word-of-mouth buzz to get me lining up. (I steer well and clear from those obnoxious critic pull-quote trailers.) Whether this is a prelude to my eventual Best Films of the Year list remains to be seen. Nevertheless, these were the trailers of 2019 that worked for me. Continue reading

We Failed Kelly Marie Tran

I get emotional when I think about Rose Tico. I idolize her the way past generations have idolized Luke, Han, Leia – the way Rose herself is astonished to meet Finn. Because after how many movies set in a galaxy far, far away, there she is. There we are, reflected. I didn’t realize how monumental that would feel to me as an Asian-American. Which is why I feel so personally vilified to hear that Kelly Marie Tran has been driven off social media over the unspeakable crime of being in a Star Wars movie.  Continue reading

‘Star Wars’ and the Nature of Expectation

“This is not going to go the way you think.”

There’s a reason this was the money quote for The Last Jedi. The very placement of this film as the middle chapter inevitably invites the comparison to Empire Strikes Back. Writer-director Rian Johnson seems acutely aware of this and it becomes his main storytelling drive to take everything we know about Star Wars and turn it on its head, much to the benefit of the franchise.  Continue reading