When the World Just Stops

‘Why did you do that?!?’ should have been Mr. Griffith’s response to the horror that bestowed him. His voice could only be swollen by despair and betrayal, and he quickly came to realize that he was defeated.

The monster did not laugh, nor weep, nor move on for him. It simply shot a look of satisfaction, relishing its kill with pleasurable evil. Mr. Griffith could only watch. He could only stand by as the beast emerged victorious. It was the only way this could have ended.

Step out of line, and you step off the edge of sanity. The men in high places were subtle, and the monsters always ripped through souls with the most dangerous of malcontent. Heroes who silenced the invisible blood they lusted for.

Mr. Griffith was a man. He chose to serve for the greater good, to go beyond their threats masked in compassion. But against the monsters, morality loses to practicality. They were monsters, in every worst sense of the word.

That was my son. And in an instant, the lights have forever been expelled. 

And in that moment, the world had gone still.

How to Calculate Probability

Surprise! As you may have already noticed, I am not stadarooni, but a new author to this blog. Rather than posting something that would correspond with the rest of the blog, I have chosen to write about something a bit different from the traditional post found on this blog. I will share with you how to identify the probability of something happening or in other words how many ways something can be done. I will try my best to not sound like a textbook!

The math behind it is quite simple, for example, let’s say we want to find out how many possible four digit codes we can make using numbers 0 to 9, we need to allocate four positions to assign with the number of possibilities to claim that position. So since it’s a four digit code we have four empty positions. For each position we assign the number of possibilities, in this case, there are ten possibilities since there is a total of ten digits. So in a mathematical form it would like this _ – _ – _ – _ (Each blank space represents a digit of the four digit code), and then we fill it with this 10 – 10 – 10 – 10 (Each blank is filled with the number of possibilities). Now we multiply each filled position, which in this case gives us 10,000. That means there are 10,000 possible four digit codes we can produce, or more specifically there is a 1 in 10,000 (0.01%) chance that we will get a certain code.

So now that we know how to calculate this, let’s calculate something a bit more interesting, say the probability of the forecast in fall. We know that it could be either sunny, cloudy, or rainy (assuming that whatever the weather is, it would remain the same all day). So we know we need to allocate seven positions for the week and fill each one with a number of possibilities, which in this case is three. So mathematically it would look like this 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 (Each spot is allocated with the number of possibilities). Then we do what we did before, which is multiply all of them together. We get a total of 2,187 possible weather patterns over the week (and thanks to technology, we can estimate which exact pattern it will be).

I find that extremely interesting, but there’s still something missing. What if we want to identify how many possibilities there are for let’s say the number of ways five people can stand in a line. We can’t use the same method as before because you can’t have the same person in more than one spot at a time, so we have to slightly change the math we use.

To do this, we start the same way. Since we are dealing with five people, we allocate five spots to be filled with each person and fill them with the number of possibilities. In the first position, we know it can be anyone, so it remains five. But in the next position we know that we will have one less person to choose from, because they are in the first position. This means that the number of possibilities reduces to four. So if we continue the same method, the math would look like this 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 (Each spot is allocated with how many people still need a spot in the line). We then multiply it together and get 120, meaning there are 120 different ways for five people to stand in a line.

Ok now let’s do something you yourself can calculate before we move on to something more challenging, like how many different combinations of clothes you can wear until you run out of new combinations. I will let you, the reader fill this one in as you go, and at the end, I will do my own just for the sake of example. So first you need to know how many clothes you have, and what type of clothing they are. You need to know the number of hats, shirts, sweaters, pants, shoes, and socks you have. If you’re interested in finding out, go count them now. If you happen to not have one of those types of clothing, just input one (since it will always be the same). Ok, now we know for the sake of this example that there are six types of clothing, so we allocate six spots. Mathematically this looks something like this _ – _ – _ – _ – _ – _ (Each empty spot represents a type of clothing). Now input the spots with the number of clothes you have, then multiply them together. For me the input looks something like this 3 – 9 – 4 – 5 – 2 – 12 which ends up being 12,960. That means assuming I wear one combination a day, I could go 12,960 days or 35 years until I come back to the same combination (and my wardrobe is pretty small!)

Alright, now that we know the uses of identifying probability, we come to the finale. Let’s calculate something that’s way more difficult. Let’s say we want to find out how many even six-digit numerals containing numbers 0 to 9 we can produce that have no repeating numbers in the numeral. We know the first number can’t be zero because that would be considered a five-digit numeral, the last digit has to be even and that digits cannot repeat throughout the six digit numeral. Mathematically it looks like this 8 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 (The last number has to be even, so there are four possible numbers, then we know the first number can’t be zero and since numbers can’t repeat and we’ve already assigned one of the numbers to the last spot, there are eight numbers we can still assign. Then the spots in-between the first and last we assign with numbers that still haven’t been used, and since we know 0 hasn’t been used on the first spot there will still be eight possibilities on the second spot). If we multiply these together we get a total of 53,760. As if that’s not already enough, we aren’t done!

Now we need to calculate what might happen if 0 were to be assigned to the last digit. That means that the first number would have nine possibilities because we know it can’t be zero since numbers can’t repeat. Everything else is the same, though. Mathematically it would look like this 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 1 (Since we are calculating just for the combinations that contain zero at the end, the last spot only has the one possibility. Due to that the first spot has nine possibilities since we cannot repeat any numbers). If we multiply these together we get a total of 15,120 combinations that will contain zero at the end. To finish this massive question off, we add both numbers together to finally get a grand total of 68,880 possible six-digit numerals!

Here are a few interesting facts that I calculated using this method.

  • If a class has 30 kids and you line them up, there are 265 nonillions (30 zeroes) ways to line them up.
  • There are an infinite number of different weather patterns over the course of a year since the number is so big it doesn’t have a name for it.
  • Using average furniture per home, there are 3,628,800 ways to organize a room in your house, and 21,772,800 ways to organize your home.

Hopefully, I didn’t sound too much like a textbook, and that you learned something new or found it interesting. Please feel free to leave a comment with any interesting things you find using this method, or if you have a different method. Thanks for reading this abnormal blog post, and continue to enjoy stadarooni!

Good day.

The Tale of Stadarooni

Welcome back to a New Year!

After the most successful month of this blog, it is great to see many new viewers. While I did not meet my promise of 25 blogs leading up to Christmas Day, the 25 Days of Stadarooni were still a great success. Writing one blog post per day felt a tad too tiring towards the end, and my ability to write was getting fatigued as well. I still have a few ideas left over that went unused, and I definitely plan on picking up on them in the future. If you enjoyed special events like the 25 Days, that is awesome. However, I cannot make any promises and for now, I will resume the typical weekly/bi-weekly schedule from before.

Anyways, a look back at 2016.

Back in May, one of my friends had a wonderful idea that resonated very well in my mind. It was this blog, and how I love to ramble on about stories that I love. It only seemed logical that it was something that had to happen, and so on May 29th, stadarooni was created. I began with the analysis of storytelling tropes that bounced around in my head, but as you know my horizons have expanded beyond just this. Perhaps it was my laziness, but I posted two of my essays from my English class, and they went beyond a look in stories: they also told them, and sprouted from ideas.

Are big universes harmful to a story? Is emotional storytelling more important than the story itself? These are big questions I wanted to take a look at, but that was only the beginning. And yes, I do plan on making part two to a certain post on this blog…

June was the big game-changer. Sand and an Umbrella was the first post on my blog that received quite a bit of attention that was outside of my sphere, and it was also the first story I created for this blog. I like to tell my stories with the setting, detail, and more subtle devices, as you can tell from the various posts here that have left some of you confused. I like to use words to paint a picture, but this mostly works for the shorts I create here. A more traditional story is what I would love to create, with action, development, characters, and conflict. I have an idea of a story that has entertained my mind for quite some time, and all these stories are perhaps the most compassionate thing I put on this blog.

Of course, at this point, the blog changed forever. The initial idea of analysing stories became one of a few things on this blog, and even then I would say the spirit and purpose of it have shifted to a more general blog.

Later on, I left for the summer and you with several posts made by my friends. These are the only guest posts on this blog, but I can say that without their work, the blog probably would have faded into complete obscurity over the summer and it would not exist today. I have linked their posts many times before, but I am still grateful for it and guest posts are still not out of the question for the future. It is important to see this blog as a community, despite how small and insignificant it may be.

Upon my return, I decided to celebrate with Small Journeys, which was a turning point for the blog. This kickstarted a short reign of success, and then I decided to announce my expanded horizons for the fall. However, I have also learned that I should probably never make promises when that very same horizon has the word ‘school’ in it.

Now, September was not the best month for the blog, and October is the same story. There were very few posts, and even those did not receive much attention. I would call it a drought of course, but I would also call it the start of a potentially slow death of this blog. However, one of my most confusing and odd posts managed to reach below and save it, and the blog is now in a very good position and in line for future success. The 25 Days of Stadarooni proved to pull in a lot of views, and my impossible goals were achieved.

Perhaps this was not a fascinating tale, but I hope you enjoyed this look at the past.

How is this relevant to the future, you may ask? Well, there are three types of posts that I can assure will always be on the blog: stories, analysis’, and reviews/retrospects. Stories may pull in the most amount of views, and do seem to get the highest praise on this blog as well. However, reviews are an unexpected success, and I will try to make them lengthy and detailed going forward. And yes, longer than this one. For analysis’, I will not betray the initial purpose of the blog. I feel as if they are the bread and butter for it, and one of my goals is to go into more detail and try to be both broad and specific in my intent. One idea I have tried to do is to look at qualities in one story that have significance to storytelling as a whole. One change I want to make for stories is to have them more concrete and traditional in a sense, while still having the same compassion put in.

Another goal is for longer posts. This may make times between posts longer and less frequent, but I want to emphasise quality to a higher degree. Proofreading and drafts may exist, and I plan to do actual note-taking for posts as well. Also, there will be no more promises on when posts will come. I apologise, but more frequent posting is not sustainable from now on.

And with that, we come to a close for this look at my blog. Before I head out, though, I present you with some statistics throughout 2016, from May to December. Please enjoy, and I will see you later.

  • Most Viewed Month: 1: December (481 views) 2: August (172 views) 3: June (157 views)
  • Most Visited Month: 1: December (288 visitors) 2: August (77 visitors) 3: June (70 visitors)
  • Most Liked Month: 1: December (42 likes) 2: November (16 likes) 3: August (14 likes)

Top 10 Posts by Views (and Likes)

  1. Halo 5: Guardians – A Look Further Into the Story – 147 views (3 likes)
  2. A Short Analysis of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – 79 views (0 likes)
  3. Halo 5: Guardians: A Review – 67 views (1 like)
  4. Small Journeys – 54 views (8 likes)
  5. Snow and a Toboggan – 37 views (5 likes)
  6. Sand and an Umbrella – 32 views (5 likes)
  7. Into the Darkness – 25 views (10 likes)
  8. A Story Without Words – Why Music Matters in Storytelling – 24 views (2 likes)
  9. Does Emotional Storytelling Outweigh Plot? – Part 1 – 22 views (1 like)
  10. The Flaws of Interconnected Universes – 18 views (1 like)

Top 5 Referrers to the Blog

  1. Facebook (231 views)
  2. Reddit (116 views)
  3. Google (47 views)
  4. WordPress Reader (37 views)
  5. Instagram (18 views) (Heh)

Top 5 Countries by Views

  1. Canada (739 views)
  2. United States (287 views)
  3. Denmark (54 views)
  4. United Kingdom (28 views)
  5. Austrailia (7 views)

stadarooni’s Honourable Mentions

  • Best Views Ever: 135 on December 10, 2016
  • Total Views for 2016: 1151 views
  • Total Visitors for 2016: 610 visitors
  • Total Likes for 2016: 92 likes
  • Most Popular Day for 2016: Saturday (33% of views)
  • Most Popular Hour of 2016: 3:00 PM (11% of views)

And with that, adios.

A Gears of War Trilogy Retrospect

Day 19 technically speaking, and now we come to a new post. After the blowout that was my Halo 5 review, (and its followup) I am deciding to do a sort of series retrospect on another video game franchise that coincidentally changed huge titles and is also exclusive to Xbox. Games like Mass Effect and The Division have emulated the gameplay of this series, and it has defined modern third-person shooters. I could drive the suspense further, but it is Gears of War.

My experience with it begun with the third game in the series back in 2011, but to deter from confusion, I will begin with the first one.

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Gears of War is a phenomenal game. The campaign throws everything it has against the player in a variety of situations, and the game flows seamlessly from level-to-level. It is one of few games I can say I would love to play straight through for that reason alone, but this game is also difficult. Too many games cater to a general audience, but this one knows that immersion must be linked with a game that is both balanced and against you. This game is not here to deliver a story that needs to be told or to impress you with its graphics either. It has both of those, but this game knows that its first priority is to entertain the player.

This is one of the things I appreciate most about Gears of War. Its story only serves as a way to progress through the game, with a likable ensemble of characters as well. It adds a taste of horror here and there, but it is nothing to talk about. Ultimately, the plot only exists as an excuse to kill a plethora of monsters, which is one point I love about this franchise.

The Locust Horde are great antagonists, and Epic Games knows how to do enemy variety. It is baffling that so many games find that giving the same enemy a different gun or more armour is good enough for another enemy class, but Gears of War gets creative with it. It is a shooter with bosses that work, and enemies ranging from the equal-footed Drones to the horrifying Berserker. They act differently and attempt strategy such as flanking players, flushing them out, and taking cover from a variety of angles. The series’ AI has only improved since 2006, and I commend them for something that many other shooters have ignored.

Multiplayer is something that I have never entirely gotten into as much as other franchises such as Halo, but this game fills its own niche. The sheer variety of weapons that all function in unique ways makes every encounter unexpected and the cover-based mechanics add a layer of strategic depth and an element of suspense that is both methodical and very unique to Gears of War. 5v5 may be a little small for those coming off of every other huge shooter, but it works well for Gears’ team-oriented gameplay that suits cooperative and competitive play immensely.

The game also has excellent set pieces that add extra memorability to its campaign, a tense score that adds to the idea that you are in a mad world, and the graphics tell a world of ‘destroyed beauty.’ And before we head on to Gears of War 2, please take a look at this trailer.

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Gears of War 2 is one of those sequels that attempts to 1-up its predecessor, but here it is done very well. The stakes are larger, the scope is bigger, the combat is more epic, and the story is filled with far more drama. Above all, it is a great continuation of a great franchise.

In terms of gameplay, Gears 2 does not remove anything the first game had, but instead it adds far more. We now have flamethrowers, heavy weapons, and an ink grenade to boot against a far more lethal Locust Horde. New enemy types are introduced on top of existing ones, and they compliment encounters and each other to create new challenges that could not have existed in the first game. There are still more intimate sections like the first game, but set-pieces that feature dozens of enemies in the thick of war make this game far more expansive. The pacing may not be as fluid due to some slower moments in the story and a final act that drags a bit, but the story now has actual character motivation and development, as well as very personal moments with one, in particular, being the pinnacle of ‘sad moments’ that this series has seen.

One of my favourite new additions to the series is Horde mode, however. It can be called the forefather of modern PvE survival modes, as is made fun with Gears of War’s unique foes and excellent map designs that make each consecutive wave feel like a struggle for survival with your back against the wall with your friends. I have heard that multiplayer suffers from netcode issues, but I did not play Gears 2 in its heyday so I cannot judge it for this, unfortunately.

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Gears of War 3 was my first Gears of War game, and I can say that it holds up as a sequel to Gears 2. Arenas are bigger and encounters involve more enemies, and the stakes are held higher as well. While this may seem like the franchise is trying to 1-up itself yet again, Gears 3 does not have the epic story of its predecessor. Instead, it tries to tell a story full of emotion and loss.

While it works, I feel as if Gears 3 is a bit distracted in its setting and its tone strays away from the gritty tale of survival in a mad world to instead emphasise on a story of family. The ensemble cast is doubled and feels a bit cluttered in comparison to Gears 1 and 2’s intimacy, which is true for both gameplay and story. A whole new class of enemy is introduced, called the Lambent. These enemies are very fun and are an interesting spin on the Locust Horde but in terms of encounters they did not receive the same kind of dynamic increase that existed from Gears 1 to 2. This is not a bad thing, but it is worth pointing out.

The campaign does not have any weak points unlike Gears 2 this time around, and the final act is as epic and climactic as it should be. The colour spectrum of this game is also bustling with a range that the last two games did not have, and it goes beyond ‘destroyed beauty.’ The score compliments action and story beats as well, and the Gears arsenal is expanded with many inclusions including a machine gun that rips apart enemies as well as a massive sword that slashes foes in half.

Horde mode and competitive Versus modes are expanded immensely in Gears 3, with the new Beast mode that allows you to play as Locust monsters. Fortifications add a new layer of strategy into Horde mode alongside boss waves, and Versus has been refined to a pinch. That is perhaps my favourite part of Gears of War: it does not need to change itself to be fresh. Unlike Call of Duty, though, it does not remain so familiar that a new game is redundant.

Gears is Gears, and it knows how to improve itself and increase its excellence. It is a game that has been replicated too many times, and one that has set the standard for third-person shooters.

Rogue One – First Impressions

Technically day 18, we are at.

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed my story earlier today, but now I have something hot off the theater. I have watched Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and now I am here to give my impressions of the film. I am sure they will settle down in the coming days, but I am very excited to talk about this amazing film. If you want a spoiler-free opinion, I say I would juggle it around with A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back as the best film in the franchise. If you want a number rating (which I do not like) it is a 9/10, with The Force Awakens being a 7/10. I would try to make a conscious effort not to talk about spoilers, but I know I would slip. So, spoilers will be below.

Are you ready?

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Unlike The Force AwakensRogue One is far more tasteful in its originality while remaining very loyal as a Star Wars film. It definitely strays away without the Jedi having a role in the film, but it feels like a gritty Star Wars film that is real. It respects the original trilogy and aspects of the prequels, even going as far as to include some actors and a planet from it. One thing I cannot ignore is the littering of references here and there, with characters and technology appearing in very subtle but noticeable ways, and it is welcome after last year’s film.

The characters are likable, and very well acted. They feel like ordinary people amidst a war for a greater cause, and an ugly side of rebellion is shown as well. The film ultimately was not very grey, however, despite this. It is still a tale of good versus evil, which is to be expected. Jyn Erso does carry the film well, and her development and charisma work for a one-off appearance. K-2SO will be a fan favourite for sure, and Director Krennic is a classic Imperial officer who serves well as the main antagonist. Appearances from returning characters are also very tasteful, with Darth Vader fulfilling his role in spades, Tarkin fitting into the film very naturally. The same can be said for Mon Mothma and various cameos such as C-3PO and R2-D2.

The fact that all the main characters die at the end of the film help to elevate the gritty feel that war is hell, and also that hope remains in the Rebellion. The final battle over Scarif may be my favourite battle in the films, as it is grand without the clutter of the prequels (yes, even the opening from Revenge of the Sith is probably not as good as popular opinion deems it to be) and the limitations that faced the originals. It does not shy away from battles on both ground and air and shows both the Rebels and Imperials turning their own tides in a balanced fight that serves as a victory for both.

The portrayal of the Empire in this film is also one of its strong suits. They are a totalitarian body that encompasses all, and this film shows that the are to be feared. Normal Stormtroopers are backed by bulkier counterparts that do serious damage to the main characters, and the Death Star proves to show how inevitable death may be for some of the Rebels.

To end off my first impressions, I can say that the score was very good even without John Williams and that the CGI was well-implemented as well. Emotions existed, character motivation existed, and heart existed in this film as well. I was smiling at the end, which does say something that not a lot of films are able to.

In this moment of time, I can finally say we have a good Star Wars prequel. It flows into A New Hope perfectly, in every sense of that word. I will let that sink in, and I will see you tomorrow.

Good night. 🙂

Lost and Found

Hello everyone! You may be wondering where the posts were for the past two days, and how my absence of leave will affect the posting schedule from now until the 25th.

While I would still technically classify this as day 17’s post, in order to play catch up you can expect two posts today, and two posts tomorrow. Wednesday will be back to smooth sailing, and I apologize for the two-day drought here.

Anyways, as I said on Friday, it is time to move back to storytelling. While Snow and a Toboggan was a more bittersweet tale, this one may be a bit different. It will relate more to Christmas, but maybe not the aspect of it that you expect. There are still toys and trinkets, but I will leave you at that.

Please enjoy.

***

Time has its wheels, and they are not stopping.

December is a blighted celebration of all wrong with the world. They put down their arms, voices, and differences all for me. Something that has collected dust on a shelf for eleven months, only to be picked up by those both poor in belonging and poor in heart.

I have heard the tales of the red jolly man. His merry cheer is one I have never heard and one I will never hear. He delivers my kind to every child in this world, but how does he do it in one night? Are there children in the stars waiting, only for him not to come? I wonder what his elves build in his mechanical fortress in the dead north. I was created by simple men only waiting for profit, sent overseas for other men who controlled them. If only the children knew that.

The storekeeper is a depressed fellow. From what I’ve heard of the red man, they are polar opposites. He puts on a mask with cheerful intention, but I know it isn’t true. The rainbow of lights down each aisle that wash nicely with the mahogany brown of each shelf, and that tree of his. When the lights turn off, I suppose he becomes more relatable. He lives in the store, and cries in the store. I am almost sure he will die in this store, unlike me.

I have heard the stories of how deadly man is. They wrap us in total darkness for what feels like an eternity, and only for their twisted pleasure. They give us to others, whether it be psychopaths, murderers, or children. I have heard terrible things about children. They are like animals, tearing through every ripple of our skin until we are broken and thrown away into the depths of hell. They have the audacity to replace us and waste their treasured coin on such a useless cycle.

I have heard that us toys are not the only victims of such torture. Everything is, and humans are creative. They can subject each other in morbid curiosity, and I find their uncontrollable behaviour disgusting. It is only this time of year that they do so, and they return to their normal state after December is over. It will happen as long as time never stops, and for now, I remain on this shelf of toxic dreams of a superior kind.

They can feel like I can, but they can act as well. Why do they not cherish the idea of being human, instead of dividing themselves into cults and teams? I can foresee my future, but I do know that I only exist in mind and I will never be able to defend myself. They die from age, but I am almost certain to be killed. Consumerism is their biggest weakness and my greatest threat.

I do not wish to die, but I have no choice. The store shelf is the same shade of brown, and the cries of the storekeeper no longer fill me with unbroken sympathy. I have become unfeeling, but my desire to live is like a primal instinct that pierces through my fabric skull. Maybe I will not end up as a gift, but as a stone on the wet pavement. I will lie there forever until something tears me into pieces. It is unfair that they have the ability of movement, and I am condemned to this void of lost dreams.

If luck exists, maybe I can find them.

If the red man exists, maybe he will find them.

Maybe… Maybe I should go to sleep, perchance to dream.

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***

I hope that was not too depressing, and yes, that was the plan for Saturday’s post. Sunday’s was supposed to be retrospect, so expect that to be coming later tonight. It may be a long one, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. Also, you may be wondering about that guest post that faded into obscurity and never formed. The guest felt as if they did not have any great ideas, which is understandable. If he comes with an idea, though, I will let him post it whenever he chooses to, so consider it on indefinite hold for the time being.

Anyways, enjoy this last stretch until the holidays! 🙂

What Makes a Good Sequel?

Day 16. The weekend is now here, and it is time to relax. Winter break has begun, and for many of us restful waters are ahead. I now have the time to create longer posts, and that should start today. We are heading towards the end of the 25 Days of Stadarooni, and it is surprising to me how far it has come since December started.

As you are aware, the past weekend has seen an abundance of analytical posts that are a bit smaller in scale. While these are fun to make, I can assure you that there will not be too much more after today, as I take a step back into storytelling and a retrospect I am excited to write and share with you all. The last story on this blog has had a great response, and tomorrow’s will have a similar tone and mood behind it.

Now, why don’t I answer the question in the title?

As I am sure all of you have a story that you adore to no end. I want you to imagine what you loved about it. Was it the characters that grasped your attention, or perhaps the setting? And if it had a stellar ending, did you want it to continue? Or is it like a Pixar movie, where a sequel is ultimately unnecessary?

For beginners, a sequel should be its own story. It should continue threads and aspects of its predecessor, but not be a continuation. This may be argumentative when trilogies such as The Lord of the Rings exist, but it is important to note that they are a grand story told in three parts rather than three separate stories. Such sequels should have a resemblance to what they follow, but it is fantastic for them to try new ideas and concepts, and evolve those from its predecessor. There are some examples of perfect sequels, one of which is The Empire Strikes Back.

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Perhaps Star Wars may be seen as overrated or overdone these days with a film coming every year for the foreseeable future, but it remains a classic for good reason. A simple story with relatable contexts to the real world, and deeper philosophical meanings hidden away in grander places. It is a classic tale of good versus evil, and it has the necessary scope, scale, and pacing to tell its plot from the dunes of Tatooine to the trench run of the Death Star.

How does The Empire Strikes Back eclipse the success of (at the time) immeasurable greatness? It is important to note that making every ‘bigger and badder’ is a terrible way to evolve a story’s formula, and can keep immersion and investment away from their audience. The Empire Strikes Back has a much smaller scale than A New Hope, and it focuses far more on its characters than everything else. It is darker in tone, as the totalitarian force of the Empire triumphs over the rag-tag Rebellion and is always one step ahead of them. This is beautifully shown in both the Battle of Hoth and the events that transpire in Cloud City, as every victory is no match for the Empire’s brutality.

There are no Darth Star-esque mega weapons or elaborate new plans to destroy the Rebels once and for all in this film. It develops the Empire and Rebels in meaningful ways and pushes the characters in areas where they can grow immensely. The introduction of Yoda is the most ingenious part of the entire Star Wars saga, and for good reason. World-building is put into center stage as the mythology of the Force is perfectly blended with Yoda’s character and Luke’s deeper character development. Luke’s character arc also culminates with one of the most memorable moments of the original trilogy, where Darth Vader utters his famous line.

The darker tone of this movie is an amazing twist on A New Hope’s more light-hearted tone, but it remains consistent. The Empire is given time to be shown as a great threat, and Darth Vader is made even more menacing and complex by his relationship with Luke and the subtleties in his character. His relationship with Luke is revealed very naturally and is a twist that does not come out of left-field. It may be shocking, but it is logical and adds more layers to both characters.

The Empire Strikes Back is a great sequel and stand-alone story, which is why it is one of a very few ‘perfect sequels.’ It further examines elements and ideas from A New Hope, continues developing the original cast in meaningful and unexpected ways, and more importantly takes risks to be different. This includes tone, the complexity of its story, new characters, and the fact that the good guys do not win in the end.

While trying new ideas are novel when making a sequel, there is a limit that can be hit. To callback once again to my first post, I present The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-Guide

Now, I believe I said Age of Ultron is a pretty good film, but it does not soar to the greatness of the first. This is partly due to the fact that The Avengers is a film that should have failed, as its plot is not very strong and is full of a hundred holes. The reason why it stands above most other MCU films is due to how awesome it is. Yes, that is the massive appeal for The Avengers. It is an awesome film.

Age of Ultron sadly is more of a ‘milestone’ sort of film for the MCU as a whole rather than a strong sequel to its predecessor and is only such as the Avengers have assembled. The scale is lowered from aliens to a rogue AI, but the sheer amount of heroes makes the film lack focus and cohesion. It attempts to weave together too many different plotlines around, but most are half-hearted and only exist as a setup for future films. Why is Age of Ultron not a better sequel?

The answer is that it goes nowhere. It stays in its own bubble and does not correlate with the events of its predecessor. It is a bit tricky to draw the line of ‘predecessors’ and ‘successors’ in the MCU due to its interconnected stories and universe, but it certainly does not have much to do with the characters and their development from the first film. It opens with a fight against a Hydra cell that is just a cool fight scene for anyone that did not know that, but the context behind its importance is missing.

Compare this with The Empire Strikes Back. It is a self-contained story, but also a sequel to A New Hope. You can watch it without any prior knowledge of Star Wars and appreciate every single detail without having to do homework on your understanding of lore. Age of Ultron is inconsequential, too safe but also too wandering, and relies too much on other films in the MCU to the point where I can say it falls flat as a nice, self-contained sequel to The Avengers.

With a sequel, don’t be afraid to be fresh. Don’t be afraid to introduce new elements to shake up your setting, but don’t change it to the point where it is completely unrecognizable. A sequel should still feel like its predecessor, but not be constrained by its existence. A layer of creativity still exists, as characters can be taken to places unexpected that still falls in a logical sense to their development. There is a reason why franchises and series’ exist, and these long-term sagas and arcs attract so many people for good reason. Some of them may be overdone, but isn’t that always the case when you love something a bit too much?