|STAR WARS RESISTANCERESISTANCESTAR WARS|
The ending of Star Wars Resistance feels like a paradox, finished and unfinished. So many opportunities have been untouched in the previous season, yet so much has unraveled in the finale that provides a closure that feels decisive and open-ended without being a cliffhanger. All the little humanities in the past bubble up into emotional highs in the finale “The Escape.”
Tam Ryvora Susie McGrath and Jace Rucklin Elijah Wood observe as the First Order lay waste on the Aeosians, who allied briefly with the Colossus in “The New World.” The genocide horrifies Tam but pleases Rucklin. Using her old comlink, Tam relays a coded message to Team Fireball back on the Colossus. Kaz Christopher Sean and Neeku Josh Brener decode it and surmise Tam wants to come home.Returning Home
Several strategic compromises and cautions enrich the diverse thought processes of each character. Kaz’s chipper self is happy to hone in on the hope that Tam wants to come back, but he has also grown up to exercise caution at the idea. Note how he runs an idea through Yeager and Captain Doza Jason Hightower rather than headlong make the decision for himself. Yeager Scott Lawrence is skeptical despite wanting Tam back. Despite being a reformed ex-Empire officer, Doza rejects the idea of rescuing a presumably defecting Tam because he reasonably knows the potential trap. Still, he hears Venisa Tasia Valenza out and lays his caveat that Yeager and Kaz must take a First Order shuttle.
Tam’s coded message mentions Neeku’s former pet “Bibo” which I hold as one of the best season one episodes due to its slice-of-life breeziness and brings forth nostalgia for Team Fireball to face. Resistance’s attention to setting accentuates emotions when Kaz and Yeager decide to meet Tam at the first racing ring Kaz crashed into. They discuss the good ole’ days, a stark reflection of the simplicity of life the First Order had stolen from them.Villain Intrigue
The villain stakes for Agent Tierny Sumalee Montano and Commander Pyre Liam McIntyre are set by the holo-appearance of Supreme Leader Kylo Ren voiced not by Adam Driver but Matthew Wood. His terrifying use of the Force feels like fan service, since this is the first time the terrifying potential of the Force is ever seen on Resistance, and stretches its internal logic other than Kel and Elia hinted to be Force-sensitive.
The First Order ends up ending itself. Tierny meets her thematic end where she submits to the institution that has pampered her and now left her to perish. Despite being weighed as hopeful, Jace sinks into irredeemable territory and he receives a “What comes around goes around” karma; Tam realizes that some people are worth leaving behind. These moments where the First Order self-sabotages suggest that perhaps it has undone...
Jesse Eisenberg, best known for his roles in movies such as Zombieland and The Social Network, is staying quite busy these days. Much of the time, in recent years, that is spent on slightly smaller indie movies, which vary greatly in scope and genre. Case in point, Eisenberg is starring in not one, but two movies that are coming out on the same day this week in Resistance and Vivarium.
In the case of Resistance, directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, Jesse Eisenberg portrays real-life mime Marcel Marceau who went on to become something of an unlikely hero during World War II, becoming a member of the French Resistance, which helped to save the lives of thousands of children. On the other side of the fence, we have Vivarium. Directed by Lorcan Finnegan, this contained sci-fi flick reteams him with his Art of Self-Defense co-star Imogen Poots and sees them as a couple looking to buy a house and they become trapped in the labyrinth of a development, forcing them to live in a suburban nightmare.
I recently had the good fortune of speaking with Jesse Eisenberg on behalf of both movies. It's actually the third time in a year I've spoken with the actor, a tradition I hope to see continue. We discussed their commonalities, what sets them apart, how the current coronavirus pandemic is influencing the way in which they will be viewed and much more.
Hey man, are you doing alright?
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah! We're about to drive cross country in an RV.
Oh man. That's wild.
Jesse Eisenberg: It's pretty weird, yeah. So unbelievably surreal.
I don't know if you remember but I got to interview you twice in the last year. I got to talk to you for The Art of Self-Defense and Zombieland 2, so I guess we're making this something of a tradition when you have a new movie coming out.
Jesse Eisenberg: [laughs] That would be great! And hopefully this won't end, given the current pandemic.
Touching on that a little bit, we're here to talk about Resistance and Vivarium. You have two movies coming out on the same day at a time when people could really use a break from life. How does that feel for you? You mentioned the word surreal.
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah. Also, you make these movies with a certain kind of intention and they end up coming out at a time that will necessarily affect the way they are viewed. Vivarium is this kind of claustrophobic fever dream of a movie about characters that are totally isolated who literally have no interaction with anybody besides themselves and their increasingly stir-crazy child. I think it will be filtered through the gaze of being stuck at home and quarantined now. And Resistance is this really beautiful, uplifting movie about a guy who is keeping these children entertained and distracted through a war. Again, I think it will be filtered through the lens of parents keeping their children occupied when they are not allowed to go outside or play with other...
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...