STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS review (redux) – Star Wars Special

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed, by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI), but others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I’ll be reviewing them:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)
  8. EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

It just won’t die! Although, that’s more of celebratory exclamation for me. I love Star Wars way too much to want to see it die.

The original trilogy concluded back in 1983 with RETURN OF THE JEDI and the prequel trilogy ended in 2005 with REVENGE OF THE SITH. Who knew back then that in a decade, the franchise would continue with a full blown sequel to the original franchise with all the returning characters that we knew and loved?

For those who are playing catch-up with the movies, there is a little background to the reaction of this next set of trilogies. For one thing, though JEDI was the end of the original films, the stories continued on in other forms. Comics, video games, but probably more famously, the novels. Leia got trained to be Jedi, she and Han had, I think, three children, including twins, one of them went to the dark side, Luke married a woman that I think was originally out to assassinate him and they had a kid, all of whom became Jedi under his tutelage. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if there were at least a hundred books that were sequels to the films. I think most of them aren’t considered continuity. Regardless, it was widely hoped that the new set of films would tie in to those novels.

Personally, I’d never read those novels. Any of them. Having said that, I’ve read about them and I saw the potential for some seriously dark and dramatic storytelling. But I wanted something different. I wanted to see something that took place within the realm of the novels, but in pockets of time that took place before or after certain sets. I don’t know, something about direct adaptations scare me.

Turns out, to the great disappointment to many fans, the next set of films were going to completely ignore those books. When Disney acquired the Star Wars license, it was officially announced that the extended universe that fans fell deeply and passionately in love with were ALL noncanonical to the movies as we’ve seen them.

Sort of. There’s some parallels, but I’ll tackle those details later.

In any case, we were getting completely new characters, but we weren’t going to be deprived of some of the original actors, like Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher. While I sure had my disappointments initially, I was relived to see that the names for the new younger actors were names that I’d never heard of. Why is that such a big deal to me? I love unknown actors. Before Hamill was Luke Skywalker, or the Joker for that matter, he was an unknown. But fast forward to the present, they’re practically household names. I was suddenly excited to see what these fresh fish actors would bring to the table because God knows how sick I would have been if I saw Zac Efron attached to these movies.

And even more happy news, the original actors weren’t going to be glorified cameos. They were going to have actual roles and be actual characters that contribute something to the story. So said the initial buzz, anyway. But we were betting that the makers of this new Star Wars trilogy wouldn’t lie to us. You need to create some good will, lest you risk a disastrous future.

It took some time, like most people I imagine, to get properly excited for this movie. But in time, we were open to the new possibilities and the new direction.

It’s also probably a good time to mention that it was around this time that the powers that be announced that there would be one Star Wars movie a year. That was an ambitious undertaking if you ask me. It was clear that didn’t mean they’d release a direct sequel to their new trilogy a year, but it still wasn’t entirely clear on what it entailed. Fast forward to 2017, we now know. ROGUE ONE became a story about how the Rebels got the Death Star plans in A NEW HOPE (1977), we’re getting an upcoming Han Solo origin story called SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (2018), and a very real possibility of a Yoda origin story in 2020. Yeah, a Yoda origin story. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Not to mention, it was recently dropped that Rian Johnson, director of THE LAST JEDI (2017) is in the process of making his own Star Wars trilogy that has nothing to do with the core films. Further information is nonexistent as I’m sure it’s all in the “brainstorming on college-ruled paper” at the moment, but we’ll see in coming years.

To hold us over though, we have the core films that are probably all we need anyway.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Daisy Ridley (MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017], video game STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II [2017], and upcoming films OPHELIA [2018] and- oh God, Daisy, no… – PETER RABBIT [2018]), John Boyega (DETROIT [2017], THE CIRCLE [2017], ATTACK THE BLOCK [2011], and the upcoming PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]), Harrison Ford (BLADE RUNNER 2049 [2017], FIREWALL [2006], AIR FORCE ONE [1997], THE MOSQUITO COAST [1986], HEROES [1977], A TIME FOR KILLING [1967], and the upcoming untitled Indiana Jones movie [2020]), Adam Driver (THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES [2017], THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU [2014], J. EDGAR [2011], and upcoming films THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE [2018] and TOUGH AS THEY COME [2018]), and Peter Mayhew (DRAGON BALL GT: A HERO’S LEGACY [1997] and 1 episode of TV show THE MUPPET SHOW [1976 – 1981]). In support, we have Oscar Isaac (SUBURBICON [2017], ROBIN HOOD [2010], ALL ABOUT BENJAMINS [2002], and upcoming films ANNIHILATION [2018] and LIFE ITSELF [2018]), Carrie Fisher (COUGAR CLUB [2007], AUSTIN POWERS [1997], AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON [1987], video game STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II [2017], and the upcoming WONDERWELL [2018]), Andy Serkis (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES [2017], CAREER GIRLS [1997], video game HEAVENLY SWORD [2007], and upcoming films BLACK PANTHER [2018] and THE JUNGLE BOOK [2018]), Domhnall Gleeson (GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2017], UNBROKEN [2014], HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 [2010], and upcoming films A FUTILE & STUPID GESTURE [2018] and PETER RABBIT), and Lupita Nyong’o (QUEEN OF KATWE [2016], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], NON-STOP [2014], and upcoming films BLACK PANTHER and LITTLE MONSTERS [2018]).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have J.J. Abrams, known for SUPER 8 (2011), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006), and directing STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (2013). Co-writing the screenplay alongside Abrams are Lawrence Kasdan (DREAMCATCHER [2003], WYATT EARP [1994], RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK [1981], and the upcoming SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY [2018]) and Michael Arndt (A WALK IN THE WOODS [2015], TOY STORY 3 [2010], and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE [2006]). Composing the score, we have living legend John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005), SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and Star Wars Episode IX (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is Dan Mindel, known for ZOOLANDER 2 (2016), JOHN CARTER (2012), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, and upcoming films PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING and the untitled Cloverfield Movie (2018).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Thirty years after the destruction of the evil Empire, a new threat has emerged from its ashes called The First Order, and are at war with the New Republic and the Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher). Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared and The First Order wants to find him, and they know where to find the map that leads to him, in the hands of famed Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who gives it to his faithful droid BB-8 before he gets captured by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a dark side warrior of the First Order, under the command of Supreme Leader Snoak (Andy Serkis). Though it takes the First Order time to figure out who has the map, one lone stormtrooper FN-2187 helps Poe escape, who gives him the new name, Finn (John Boyega), getting shot down while escaping. Meanwhile, BB-8 has encountered a lone scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who decides to help him get back to the Resistance. As paths converge, both outlaws and veterans of the long-gone Rebel Alliance, conflict comes to a head as Luke’s location becomes clearer.

(REVIEW)

It’s kind of odd to say that this movie holds up, since it’s only been a measly two years since it came out, but it’s true. It still holds up as a fun and engaging film.

Yup, my biggest issue with the movie remains Kylo Ren. I still can’t let go of how childish he is when things go south for him. When the map to Luke escape Jakku, he slices up a bunch of computer consoles with his lightsaber. When Rey escapes his clutches, he destroys the chair. Despite his power, he remains the worst Star Wars villain. As I said in my transfer review… at least, I think I said this… Kylo’s introduction isn’t bad. In fact, it’s downright classic Star Wars villain. Come in with a pair of armed escorts and murders a dude right there and then. His intimidation could have satisfyingly ended there, but then we throw in Poe trying to snipe the dude, but then Kylo uses the Force to literally stop the laser projectile in place AS WELL AS Poe himself, and that laser stays in place for a good long while. This can be argued to be the coolest intro to a Star Wars villain.

However, my first red flag was when he starts interacting with General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). They seem more like competing children flinging immature insults at one another, rather than being two professional leaders in their respective fields cooperating under a banner of mutual respect. But fine, if this was the worst I’d have to put up with, then this movie would be straight up great. After all, you can’t blame the writers for wanting to do something different than the relationship between Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin, even though that relationship was surprisingly more interesting to watch.

But those temper tantrums of his are what ultimately kill the intimidation factor. We go from making him arguably one of the most impressive villains of the franchise, to one of the most disappointing. Conceptually, he’s almost brilliant. And in more than a few ways that I haven’t given credit for, the execution of those ideas aren’t done horribly. Usually, when we see bad guys in Star Wars, they’re bad guys who don’t think twice about it, even occasionally relishing in the evil things they do. This is the first time we see a bad guy who is established as the bad guy, but has a consistent fear of turning back to being good. That’s really interesting. It takes effort for Kylo to stay in the dark side. In the past, it almost seems too easy to go in that direction, but now we’re shown a different side of it. And had this been the primary focus of the character instead of his “Hulk smash” attitude distracting the hell out of me, then Kylo would have been one of the highlights of the film instead of its greatest downside.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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And before you say it, let me say it for you! “Oh, but you’re forgetting how he survived Chewbacca’s bowcaster and still managed to fight both Finn and Rey efficiently, and that bowcaster has been seen to shred through stormtrooper armor!” I really hate when people bring this up. All of that, as far sensibility is concerned, was not very well written. There is absolutely no reason for Kylo to have taken that bowcaster shot. When Poe tried to snipe him, Kylo reacted like a cat seeing a cucumber. The moment that laser left the barrel of that rifle, Kylo stopped it in its tracks. But remember how that scene played out with Kylo getting shot by Chewy? He kills Han and Chewy lets out a roar! A roar that Kylo would most certainly have heard. And to make matters even more pathetic, Chewy was a lot further away than Poe was! Poe was both closer in proximity and more stealthy in his attempt to kill Kylo, but Chewy announced his presence with a roar and was further away. So what happened that Kylo couldn’t stop that bowcaster blast?!

 

Fine, say what you must about Kylo getting surprised. I’ll do you one better, let’s just say that Kylo was proverbially drinking in the dark side effect he was getting from killing his dad and he genuinely didn’t hear Chewy roar or see that bolt from his bowcaster. If those bolts have been seen to shred through armor, how in hell didn’t it fry Kylo’s innards?! I can believe that a powerful Force-user could survive a nonthreatening blast to one’s side if they use the Force to shield themselves, but that has to take some serious conscious effort. Not that I’m an expert on the Force because, you know, fiction, but I’ve watched all the movies, played enough of the games, read a couple of novels and comics, so I think I can take some solid educational guesses that aren’t too far off the mark. Point is, you can’t convince me that Kylo threw up a shield to protect himself because he was taken by surprise, remember? So for all intents and purposes, that bolt should have killed him. The only reason it didn’t is because of poor writing.

 

Smaller issues include the incredibly vast amount of conveniences. Our heroes happening upon the Millennium Falcon didn’t bother me, but Han and Chewy randomly finding it and the only explanation is “they scanned for it”? That was… lucky. Poe surviving the crash and somehow finding his way back to the Resistance from Jakku. R2 just happens to have the missing piece of the map to Luke. For that matter, how did the piece that BB-8 had start off in Lor San Tekka’s (Max von Sydow) hands? When Finn, Han, and Chewy rescue Rey from Starkiller Base, they not only happen to just see her through a window- in this entire base the size of a planet, of course they just happen across her randomly – but they quickly catch up with her through the many passages and corridors when they weren’t anywhere near each other. And of course when Chewy blows the core to Starkiller Base, and Rey and Finn are attempting to leave through the woods, Kylo somehow manages to not only catch up with them when he himself wasn’t near them and wounded for that matter, but was able to get ahead of the two. Again, wounded from Chewy’s bowcaster, mind you.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

But before I make this movie sound like it’s bad, let’s talk about everything it did right.

I absolutely love the new characters. Rey is my favorite, and Ridley delivers a fun and energetic performance. I do find myself extremely curious about who her parents are and why she was abandoned on Jakku. From the moment she’s introduced scavenging the ship up till meeting BB-8, everything is beautiful. From that lack of dialog and Ridley’s pitch perfect acting that speaks volumes. That look she gives Unkar Plutt (Simon Pegg) when he gives her a measly half portion of food, man… The death defying crap that she has to go through to get these parts, spending who knows how long trying to clean or repair them, only to get enough food for a night? Likely getting horribly ripped off. And the directing and cinematography are all perfect. When Rey looks at that old woman, I honestly couldn’t tell if she was horrified that she’d end up like her, or if she admired her for being sticking it out as long as she has and still going. And when she does eat, marking how many days she’s been on Jakku in the AT-AT walker, sitting outside the walker watching a ship leave the planet, then putting on the rebel pilots helmet, she clearly has dreams of leaving the planet. Just not in the fashion that she does. By the way, for those of you that don’t know, that inflatable bread stuff that Rey eats wasn’t CGI. That was a practical effect and you can totally make your own. I’ll put the ingredients and all after my rating so this doesn’t turn into a cooking channel. For the record, pretty yummy if made right. Anyway, but as wide-eyed as she is, dreaming about something more than this provincial life (ehh, I like Rey more than Belle), she does have those glimpses into her need for survival. When Unkar Plutt sees BB-8 and offers sixty portions of food, clearly a ludicrous amount, the likes of which I doubt Rey has never seen, you see her heavily considering the agreement and it’s easy to see why. All of her scavenging, the effort she puts in and what little is shown for it, all that food would set her up for a really long time. It’s little moments like this that make for a nice hint of darkness. Rey is essentially this generation’s Luke Skywalker, but the writers were smart enough to add realistic drama to her actions and expressions that don’t make her annoying. It’s going to be a blast watching her story unfold in future installments.

Now for Finn. I really like this take on a defective bad guy. We don’t see that very often, outside of Bodhi from ROGUE ONE, who isn’t as interesting a character. It sort of just hit me, he’s that cowardly, hysterical character that you see in horror films, but where so often those characters are incredibly annoying, this is about the only time I’ve ever seen it done right. Think about it, he’s constantly screaming about how he needs to get as far away from the First Order as possible. Even though he’s given a chance to help the Resistance, which in of itself if “away from the First Order”, and even if he didn’t want to stick around to help, à la Iden Versio from BATTLEFRONT II, he could probably have earned himself a transport to wherever he wanted to go… which I guess is a small complaint about his motivations, but his style of hysteria is understandable. His mission on Jakku was his first mission and he wasn’t ready to murder innocent people. What exactly separates him from the rest of the rabble isn’t clear, just bad luck on the First Order’s part. This sends him into a frenzy and wants out, taking his one slim chance to get away. I like his interactions with Rey and Poe, and I really look forward to seeing where they’re going to take Finn’s character in the future as well.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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Now let’s talk about Han Solo. It’s no secret that Harrison Ford has never liked Han. He wanted his character to be killed off after EMPIRE, but I think contracts kept him committed to JEDI. So for someone who’s disliked the character for as long as he has, Ford still gives a great performance. Professionalism at its finest. Han is still funny, grizzled, sarcastic, and a grade-A bad-ass. I still chuckle at the moment he blindly shoots a stormtrooper in the face during the battle outside of Maz’s castle. Although I do question where his fascination with Chewy’s bowcaster comes from. In thirty years, he’s never held it and test fired it once? Eh, whatever, it’s a fun relationship. And that he’s the wise mentor of the story makes it all the more satisfying. The only reason I don’t feel that strongly about his death is only because I didn’t agree with Kylo’s character here. If he was a more deplorable, or more sympathetic character, then I would have felt more for it than I ended up feeling. In any case, I’m sure that Ford is happy to put Star Wars behind him. Now he’s just gotta deal with the endless “is there any chance of you returning” questions. Not that he wasn’t getting an endless barrage pre-2015.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

The rest of the supporting cast is great too. I really want to see more of Maz (Lupita Nyong’o), Poe, General Hux, and General Leia. I don’t know, does anyone else think that “General Leia” has a more bad-ass ring to it? I just don’t want to see the title go to waste in future installments. Oh and it’d be awesome if Snoak really was that huge. Imagine the possibilities! Chances are, he’s not, but it’d be cool.

I know there’s a lot of people who had some problems with the story, that there’s a little too much repeat from the previous films. A wide-eyed youth from a humble desert planet happening upon a droid belonging to a good guy faction at war with a bad guy faction that has a planet destroying death ball, and all that good stuff. Honestly, I couldn’t really argue that. If this bothers you, it might be for good reason. However, I think I see what the goal here is. Because the prequel trilogy wasn’t the most popular of the Star Wars films, this film wanted to recreate the world that the fans were more familiar with to try and make up for what many consider to be the sins of the past. It’s supposed to show that it understands what makes Star Wars great and memorable. In a lot of ways, the story repeats almost everything from the original trilogy, A NEW HOPE, EMPIRE, and JEDI. By getting those out of the way, it paves the way for something new and an opportunity to present something different, fresh, and with luck, even better. Is it a bit distracting? Yeah, if you had the mind dead-set to see something different. As for me, I just wanted to see something good and fun. I got what I wanted, so I was satisfied.

And that’s how I describe this film: satisfying. While it may not be my favorite of the franchise, it’s a significant boost in quality than the prequels gave. There’s certainly room for improvement, but that’s why we’re getting sequels. This film is a ton of fun, with some ripe and talented new faces that hold their own with the veterans, and it’s very exciting to see the direction the movies will go. There’s mystery, there’s laughs, drama, it’s pretty all encompassing, just like a Star Wars movie should be. This is an awakening that I can definitely feel for.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS: a strong 4/5

PS: Rey’s inflatable bread stuff below the poster.

star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster

REY’S INFLATABLE BREAD STUFF

http://www.starwars.com/news/reys-portion-bread

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons cake flour
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon matcha powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Place the oil in a mug and swirl around to grease the inside.
2. Add the cake flour, sugar, matcha powder, baking powder and salt into the mug, stirring together.
3. Pour in the milk and vanilla, then cook in the microwave on high for 45 seconds.
4. Let cool slightly and serve.

After two attempts of making this stuff, I recommend three tablespoons of flour, not four. And even though the directions don’t say it, I stirred the milk and vanilla as well before microwaving. The texture came out better. I’m sure there’s still some refinement  (maybe a little less matcha powder to get the right coloring from the movie) to be had, but it’s a good starting point that worked for me.

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STAR WARS EPISODE VI: THE RETURN OF THE JEDI review – Star Wars Special

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed, by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI), but others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I’ll be reviewing them:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

This is it. This was the big one. The end. The final film to a franchise that wouldn’t be revisited for another sixteen years. How could there not be excitement for this? Look at the title alone! “Return of the Jedi.” But the Jedi were all destroyed! Luke’s going to bring them back?! Does Luke count as a Jedi now?! How is everything going to end up?! Wait! Another Death Star?! What is going on here?! This is probably a fraction of what audiences had to say and ask about this final installment and for good bloody reason. After the gargantuan success and ground-breaking story that was EMPIRE, this movie was going to be extraordinary, no matter the outcome.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Mark Hamill (BRIGSBY BEAR [2017], BATTLE FOR TERRA [2007], VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED [1995], and the upcoming CON MAN [2018]), Harrison Ford (BLADE RUNNER 2049 [2017], FIREWALL [2006], AIR FORCE ONE [1997], and the upcoming untitled Indiana Jones film [2020]), Carrie Fisher (FANBOYS [2009], WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… [1989], TV show FAMILY GUY [1998 – ongoing], and the upcoming WONDERWELL [2018]), Ian McDiarmid (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS [1988]), and playing Darth Vader is David Prowse (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971]) and voicing Vader, James Earl Jones (THE LION KING [1994], FIELD OF DREAMS [1989], EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC [1977], DR. STRANGELOVE [1964], 4 episodes TV show STAR WARS: REBELS [2014 – ongoing], and the upcoming THE LION KING [2019]). In support, we have Frank Oz (INSIDE OUT [2015], ZATHURA [2005], MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND [1996], LABYRINTH [1986], and THE MUPPET MOVIE [1979]), Anthony Daniels (THE LORD OF THE RINGS [1978] and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]), Kenny Baker (THE KING AND I [1999], AMADEUS [1984], and FLASH GORDON [1980]), Billy Dee Williams (LEGO BATMAN [2017], FANBOYS [2009], and BATMAN [1989]), and Alec Guinness (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA [1962], THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI [1957], and 7 episodes of TV show TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY [1979]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Richard Marquand, known for a ton of stuff I’ve never heard of. Co-writing the screenplay are George Lucas (AMERICAN GRAFFITI [1973]) and Lawrence Kasdan (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], DREAMCATCHER [2003], WYATT EARP [1994], RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK [1981], and the upcoming SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY [2018]). Composing the score is John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and Star Wars Episode IX (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is Alan Hume,  known for SUPERGIRL (1984), 007 OCTOPUSSY (1983), and THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS (1980).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has just staged a harrowing rescue of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) at the hands of the gangster Jabba the Hutt, and now he, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and their friends are returning to the Rebel Fleet, while Luke returns to Master Yoda (Frank Oz) for his final stretch of life where Luke learns of some serious revelations about his past. Meanwhile, the Empire is nearly finished with the construction of a second Death Star, and even more disturbing, the final phases of its construction are being overlooked by the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) himself. The Rebels seize this opportunity and amass a huge fleet to attempt to destroy it before it’s completed.

(REVIEW)

Once again, this review is going to be totally unfiltered; major spoilers littered throughout. So if you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a favor and catch up. At least see the original trilogy films before tackling the prequels if you have to, but this movie is directly tied into EMPIRE (1980). It really shouldn’t be seen as a standalone movie. It’s a sequel. With that said:

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This film has a reputation of being the worst of the original trilogy. While I agree, that doesn’t mean this movie is any less great. In fact, this movie has a lot of stuff in it that’s the best in the franchise.

I seem to have developed a habit of starting with the negative elements first, so… I’m going to continue the habit.

Yeah, I had a problem with the ewoks like a lot of people. A smaller reason for it, for those that don’t know, the original concept was that instead of the ewoks, it was going to be an army of wookies. Let’s face it, that would have been a 100 percent more awesome. But if I were to hazard a guess, cost efficiency factored into it, couldn’t find enough tall actors to fill the wookie suits that they probably didn’t have anyway, among other reasons that would probably be understandable if they were public… which they probably are and I’m too lazy to Google search it. Either way. But ultimately, the problem is that the ewoks do kind of ruin the tone of the film. I mean, you have Luke fighting his father to the death on the Death Star while being goaded into turning evil by the creepy and intimidating yellow-eyed Emperor. The Rebel fleet has flown right into a trap and unaware that the Death Star is full operational, which starts destroying cruisers left and right. Han and Leia have fallen into their own trap on the forest moon of Endor, surrounded by Imperial forces, including a few mean AT-STs. And what does this movie decide to throw in to the mix? Cute little tribal teddy bears.

Okay, let’s all be fair here. Cute and cuddly as Wicket (Warwick Davis) may be, the ewoks aren’t restricted by their appearances. They’re warriors. They’re not intimidated by the armored and superior firepower of the stormtroopers, or even the gargantuan AT-STs. They fearlessly fight the Empire’s forces and show results by killing both troopers and tanks alike. Respect should be given. And it’s easy to accept their place in the fight after awhile. Let’s also not forget that they’re not above eating other sentient lifeforms. After all, they were about to cook and eat Luke, Han, and Chewy. They’re primitives, but they’re not cowardly or stupid… well, okay, trying to trip an AT-ST with a rope and dropping rocks on it was pretty stupid, but these were pretty early on in the battle, so an easy argument was that they were sizing up the strength of these things.

But… yeah, you still look at ewoks like cute little teddy bears. Their physical appearance isn’t very intimidating and just doesn’t quite fit with the dangers being fought in space, or the drama between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor. At the day’s end, I still watch this movie and I still tolerate their existence, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish for the army of wookies. But I guess that’s why we have REVENGE.

Honestly… I think that’s the only real problem I have with the movie, and it’s not that big a deal compared to the problems of the prequels. And even those problems have some merit.

I think it’s time for me to address one final problem that I have with REVENGE, and quite possibly the prequels as a whole: continuity. So when Luke asks Leia about her mother, Leia says that she remembers, “Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.” Think about the phrase, “very young.” What age comes across your mind? Answers may vary, of course, but very young to the point of remembering only so much, I personally think around the age of four or five years old. Here’s REVENGE’s definition of “very young”: FRESH OUT OF THE COOCH!!! To consider a newborn baby very young is like calling a latte “coffee!” It’s like, yeah, I guess, kind of, but not… quite! It’s a coffee-related drink, but it’s not… coffee! I don’t know, but it’s oversimplifying it and sort of misinformation! And there was a way to save the connecting ideas, I think. Padmé didn’t have to die in childbirth as a result of a lack of will to live. First of all, I think that’s selfish considering she’s got two babies on the way and she’s choosing not to live because of a man, beloved or not. She could have lived, publicly told that she was dead, hence why Sidious tells the newly black-suited Darth Vader that Padmé was killed by Anakin, and just have her hide out from the Empire until she… I don’t know committed suicide years later or died of sickness. Something to justify the whole “she died when I was very young” line that Leia says. I know, a lot of people love to chime in with, “It’s the Force and it allowed her to remember Padmé in a vague sort of way.” What, so Leia can vaguely remember her mother, but Luke can’t, even though by all accounts they should be on equal levels of Force-potential? I don’t buy it. Obviously, I don’t blame JEDI for this, but it’s still something that irks me.

One thing I’d like to address is the issues I’ve heard some people have with… well, basically everything Jabba and the sarlac pit, claiming it to be a little too long and ultimately not contributing to the story. I would like to lightly argue this. On a personal level, sure, it’s an overly long set up to save Han and bring him back into the loop. However, it does serve a few purposes that I think get a little too overlooked. We see Luke has certainly come into his own and become a much more respectable character, completely dropping the whining. In fact, he’s borderline scary what with the way he talks to Jabba all calm, cool, collected, and ready to gun down the bastard where he sits. And not just his demeanor, but he’s become a very resourceful and capable warrior, managing to kill the rancor without the use of a single real weapon, literally fighting it off with bones and rocks. And the cherry on the cake is when he defies his death by 1,000 year digestion and gets his shiny new green lightsaber and starts kicking some serious butt left and right. Flipping everywhere, deflecting blaster shot after blaster shot, he’s demonstrating how much of a force he is reckon with. I know most will say that you can cut it all down significantly, but I love these scenes a lot. It’s Luke going full Jedi and owning fools. It’s everything I wanted to see from Luke.

But on to everything else that I love.

The space battle near the Death Star is huge. It’s amazing. It’s visually breathtaking. The insane waves of X-Wings, Y-Wings, and the new A-Wings, as well as the battle cruisers… which do next to nothing other than to be Death Star death beam fodder and be home to Admiral Ackbar shouting, “It’s a trap!” Okay, so there’s one more problem that I have with the movie. Smaller problem, though. But it’s not just the new Rebel ships. The new TIE-interceptors have a basic difference from the TIE-fighters, but it still looks pretty cool. Of course, you would only know the difference between the two snub fighters if you played the video games, but, eh. Although… did the Super Star Destroyer really get so easily destroyed? I mean, one A-Wing crashing into the bridge and the whole thing takes a nose dive into the Death Star? I don’t buy it. Not enough damage was done to the thing to warrant the crash. Still, what a spectacle!

And Luke versus Vader, it’s the best lightsaber fight of the original trilogy and is on that same emotional intensity as REVENGE. The stakes are great, Luke trying to defend himself while saving his father from the dark side, while Vader tries to deny his own emotions, making the perfect blend of action and drama. And when Vader threatens to turn Leia to the dark side, can anyone blame Luke for going crazy and hacking and slashing away at Vader? Of course with the Emperor cackling in his chair, it’s such a wonderful series of events, making him the penultimate bad guy you love to hate. Jeez, and McDiarmid was in his late thirties when he did this role, so major props to the make-up team. Yeah, I had a girlfriend who once asked me who played the original Emperor and when I told her it was the same guy as it was in the prequels, she was flummoxed. I loved that reaction.

To top it all off, the ending is perfect. The moment Luke give his father a Jedi’s pyre burning, there’s no dialog. It’s just gorgeous, memorable visuals, along with John Williams’ score to send us off, all the characters hugging and dancing in celebration, there’s not a whole lot of more satisfying endings out there.

That’s probably the best way to put it: it’s a satisfying and feel-good finale. Is it devoid of problems? No. But it still went darker. It went for more emotions. It went for bigger action. And you know something? It paid off and it’s still a pretty damn great film. Hard to say which of the original is my favorite, as I love them all for various reasons. Each has had its highs and lows, but they each offer something that the others don’t, but they all offer one thing that makes it great. They offered great entertainment. And probably best of all, they span several generations and brought together a geeky, but passionate fanbase, from the older to the freshest of young. While this movie wouldn’t be the last Star Wars film, not by a long shot, it still comes out as one of the greatest. The Empire falls, but the franchise is immortal.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI: a strong 4/5

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STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH review – Star Wars Special

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed, by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI), but others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I’ll be reviewing them:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

Essentially, this entire movie is one big spoiler. So, seriously, if you haven’t seen STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), then STOP READING!!! And for that matter STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND GO WATCH STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!!! It’s an amazing film! So from this point on, I will be talking about this film 100 percent unfiltered. There are spoilers galore here. So with that said:

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS 

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS 

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS 

This is it. The last one. The final installment to the Star Wars franchise for the next ten years, if you don’t count the animated feature film THE CLONE WARS (2008), which served as the unofficial pilot to the wildly successful TV show THE CLONE WARS (2008 – 2015).  Everything that the prequels have been building up to. The Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side, becoming Darth Vader and hunting down and destroying the Jedi. Even though we knew what the outcome was going to be, the point wasn’t what was going to happen, but rather how it was going to. And that’s not what anyone knew, no matter what they said. You bet I was excited for this back in the day.

I think before I go any further, I think it’s about time I explained the order in which I choose to watch the Star Wars films the way I have. Well, to be honest, the order depends on the audience you’re showing it to, an adult or a child. If the audience is a child, then the order is exactly as I have it, ROGUE ONE, NEW HOPE, PHANTOM, CLONES, EMPIRE, REVENGE, then JEDI. If the audience is an adult, then the order becomes ROGUE ONE,  NEW HOPE, EMPIRE, the prequels, then JEDI. My idea is to push back the famed twist from EMPIRE as much as possible. ROGUE ONE and NEW HOPE don’t drop hints regarding the twist. Sadly, I and II kind of do, constantly referencing how clouded Anakin’s future is and how dangerous it is to train him, and CLONES drops that Imperial March theme when Anakin exclaims his hatred for the Sand People. If an adult were to watch the movies in the order of NEW HOPE, PHANTOM, and CLONES, they could probably pick up on the idea that Vader and Anakin are one in the same. A kid on the other hand, who probably hasn’t had much experience with twists and turns in films, might not. In NEW HOPE, the audience is led to believe that Anakin and Vader are two separate people. Granted, in PHANTOM and CLONES, kids may be confused as to where this Vader character might show up, so it’s still possible that even a clever kid will figure out that Vader is Anakin. With adults, it’s far more likely, hence it’s probably better to just go straight to it, NEW HOPE then right to EMPIRE.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Hayden Christensen (JUMPER [2008], AWAKE [2007], THE VIRGIN SUICIDES [1999], and the upcoming LITTLE ITALY [2018]), Ewan McGregor (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [2017], CASSANDRA’S DREAM [2007], A LIFE LESS ORDINARY [1997], and upcoming films ZOE [2018] and CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2018]), Natalie Portman (SONG TO SONG [2017], THE DARJEELING LIMITED [2007], MARS ATTACKS! [1997], and the upcoming ANNIHILATION [2018]), and Ian McDiarmid (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS [1988]). In support, we have Samuel L. Jackson (THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017], 1408 [2007], JACKIE BROWN [1997], and upcoming films THE LAST FULL MEASURE [2018] and INCREDIBLES 2 [2018]), Frank Oz (INSIDE OUT [2015], ZATHURA [2005], MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND [1996], LABYRINTH [1986], and THE MUPPET MOVIE [1979]), the late and great Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], GREMLINS 2: THE NEXT BATCH [1990], 007 THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN [1974], DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS [1966], and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN [1957]), Temuera Morrison (VERTICAL LIMIT [2000], SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL [1997], video game STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II [2017], and upcoming films OCCUPATION [2018] and AQUAMAN [2018]), and Jimmy Smits (STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE, TV show NYPD BLUE [1993 – 2005], and TV mini-series THE TOMMYKNOCKERS [1993]).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is George Lucas, known for AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). Composing the score is, of course, John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and Star Wars Episode IX (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is David Tattersall, known for THE FOREIGNER (2017), THE HUNTING PARTY (2007), and CON AIR (1997).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The Clone Wars have raged on for three years. Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) have successfully rescued the kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from the Separatist droid leader General Grievous (Matthew Wood), and manage to kill Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) in the process, but Grievous escapes. The war’s end depends greatly on the capture or death of Grievous, causing the Jedi Council to focus all of their efforts on finding him. However, other things are stirring. As Palpatine continues to coddle Anakin, he in turn rises in the Jedi ranks, and becomes consumed by a fear that his visions of his Senator wife Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) dying in child birth, desperate to find a way to keep her alive.

(REVIEW)

REMINDER: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!!

REMINDER: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!!

REMINDER: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!!

Wow, what a vast improvement. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, I think this is a good movie. Ehhh, for the most part. It still has problems, but it’s clear that lessons were learned.

Alright, so lets tackle those problems. For one thing, the movie isn’t written much better, at least during the scenes where romance is involved.

ANAKIN
You are so beautiful.

PADMÉ
It’s only because I’m so in love.

ANAKIN
No, it’s because I’m so in love with you.

PADMÉ
So love has blinded you?

Or how about that incredible, “Anakin! You’re breaking my heart!” from Padmé? Definitely not good.

Let’s also talk about the absolute biggest problem with the film: Anakin’s turn to the dark side. The pivotal moment that’s supposed to be the beginning of a galaxy being shrouded by fear and oppression. It makes zero sense.

Okay, so Anakin’s been having dreams that Padmé dies giving birth. He doesn’t want that to become a reality. That’s all well and good, and perfectly understandable. Here comes Palpatine saying that the dark side of the Force can prevent people from dying and if Anakin joins him, he can be taught. And without that much persuasion, it somehow works. First off, Anakin just learned that Palpatine is the Sith Lord that the Jedi have been looking for, and for someone who is so devoted to the Order and its codes, rules, and regulations, he immediately trusts Palpatine’s word. There is no proof that he can do anything that he’s saying. Already, the concept is flawed upon arrival, but the execution of it is even worse. Anakin cuts off Mace Windu’s (Samuel L. Jackson) arm, Palpatine Force-lightnings him out the window to his death, Anakin stumbles back in horror, and then… just pledges himself to Palpatine right there. The pacing of it all is WAY too fast. Anakin doesn’t appear to be sizing up the weight of his actions, traumatically trying to regain his focus, nothing. He just jumps right to pledging his allegiance to the deformed old man in front of him. This should have been a lot more subtle, but it’s like the story had no idea how to turn him to the dark side, so little to no effort was given to properly explain it.

Continuing on with Anakin, this conclusion to the prequel trilogy also made this “Prophecy” totally useless too. What do I mean? The only reason why everyone believes Anakin is this “Chosen One” is because of his midichlorian count of over 20,000 that even Yoda doesn’t have. Here’s the glaring problem: it has no impact on Anakin’s character. At no point in these films, or even in the animated CLONE WARS TV show, have we ever seen those 20,000 midichlorians at work. He never does anything that makes the audience go, “That’s the Chosen One.” His incredible powers have never manifested, so all that build-up was for nothing. All we ever really get is that he’s a great pilot and a terrific swordsman, and you can make the fair argument that he’s one of the best, if not the best in the Jedi Order. That would have been enough. But the fact of the matter is, we’ve never seen him use the Force in any incredible way. The implications mean nothing if there’s no execution.

The problems with the movie don’t end there, although they’re smaller by comparison.

Why exactly does Anakin execute Count Dooku? The man was unarmed and bested in combat. He could have been taken in and put in a jail cell, and executed by Anakin or the clones during Order 66. Why didn’t General Grievous use his many lightsabers in his confrontation with Obi-Wan and Anakin on his ship? Speaking of Grievous, his death at Obi-Wan’s hands was extremely anti-climactic. Seriously? Blaster bolts to his chest? Come on, man. Why does Anakin care so much about not being a Jedi Master, even though he’s the youngest Jedi Knight to have a seat on the Council in Jedi history? How did Sidious so easily kill three Jedi Masters? I know the implication is that he’s just that deadly, but why not actually show how deadly he is? In the TV show CLONE WARS, he’s shown to dual-wield lightsabers. I will never understand why the Jedi never did, or had their own double-bladed sabers… or for that matter, why they didn’t use different colored crystals other than blue and green. Yeah yeah, Mace had the purple one, but that’s ONE purple lightsaber. Why did the fight between Yoda and Sidious end? Yoda’s been hoping around on those Senate flying disks pretty easily enough. He wasn’t seriously injured in the fight, so why did it end? In fact, wouldn’t this fight have been a great reason to explain his need for the cane in the original trilogy? That he got seriously injured and wasn’t able to continue fighting? And why did Sidious tell Anakin that Padmé died? He didn’t even know that she was on Mustafar. Was he just talking out of his ass and he just happened to get lucky? Oh, and who can forget:

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I have other problems, but I’ll address the last of them in my JEDI review.

But enough of the problems. Similar to PHANTOM, I do believe there’s a blend of good elements that can get overlooked, or don’t get enough credit.

For one, that opening space battle is utterly brilliant and still holds up for how awesome it is. Giant ships fighting giant ships, you really get a sense of the scope and scale of the war being fought. And Obi-Wan and Anakin storming Grievous’ ship never stops being fun to watch. Even the humor gets turned up a notch. And I’ll never stop laughing at, “Another happy landing.”

The action is still unbelievably cool. Anakin versus, Dooku, Obi-Wan versus Grievous, Sidious and Mace Windu, Sidious and Yoda, and the incredibly epic Anakin versus Obi-Wan, the lightsaber play will always be the highlight of these movies and cranked it up ten fold here. Coupled with John Williams’ scores “Anakin Vs. Obi-Wan” and “Battle of the Heroes” makes for the best swordplay scenes you’re ever going to see in a Star Wars movie, or hell, any movie with swordplay.

And holy hell, we actually learn a thing or two about the Force. But not just any ole thing, the dark side of the Force no less. Ever since the original trilogy, all we’ve ever known about the dark side of the Force is that… it’s bad. Well, gee willikers, I would never have figured that out. It’s pretty self-explanatory, if you ask me. Although, Yoda does mention that the dark side is more seductive and now we understand why thanks to that opera scene. We learn that the dark side of the Force can teach you how to prevent death, something that Anakin desperately wants to learn in order to save Padmé. Well… yeah, that does sound enticing. That does sound like a good deal, especially if you’re haunted by nightmares of your loved one dying. So kudos to that!

And honestly, there’s improvements with the characters as well. Look, I’ll be the last to say that Anakin is a good character, but still, this movie does give him a bit of a personality. He’s reckless and cocky, but it’s not in an unlikable way. And say what you want about the delivery of his lines, I do firmly believe that Christensen is a good facial actor. If nothing else, he’d have had a good career as a mocap actor. And even though the romance dialog between Anakin and Padmé is awful, they do occasionally bring up legit conversations that don’t involve how in love with each other they are, or where to have the baby. When Anakin has nightmares of her death, he tries to hide his fear from her and she says, “How long will it take for us to trust each other?” That’s… a real relationship problem, a lack of communication and trust. At one point, they even talk about their political views. Padmé thinks that the Republic is failing and might become the very thing their fighting against, but Anakin thinks that everything is going to work out fine. A real conflict of interests that has broken relationships before, creating legit drama. Okay, it doesn’t exactly mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, and it’s ruined by, “Hold me, like you did on Naboo when there was no plotting, no wars…” but it feels a hell of a lot more mature than “You’re so beautiful because I’m so in love with you” GYAAAAH *barf*!!! Bleh!!! My bile tastes better than that dialog!

And the weight of the choices made by the characters is truly felt here. When Sidious says to execute Order 66, the deaths of all those Jedi, the coolest beings to ever grace film, just slaughtered by their own men with no warning or anything. I remember crying hard during that scene and though I didn’t cry now, it’s still legitimately heartbreaking and I legitimately hate Sidious for it. And when Anakin and Obi-Wan are fighting on Mustafar, I really do feel like it’s more than just lightsabers being swung around. I do feel like there’s emotion into each swing. I feel like there is serious turmoil, struggle, and agony on both ends. It truly is an amazing climax, full of atmosphere and I believe that this is where the original trilogy comes from.

Folks, it’s not a perfect film. Not by a long shot. But when you really take a step back to see how much it did right, there is something to value here and makes it worth watching. It’s easy to make fun of, sure, but for every awkward step back, there’s a really solid step forward. At the end of the day, I do like this film as a whole. There are even aspects that I love and adore. I may not be able to ignore the problems that this film has, but I can’t deny that this is my favorite of the prequels, as far as the core stories are concerned. The saga concludes on a very flawed, but a strong enough finale.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH: a strong 3/5

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STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK review – Star Wars Special

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed: by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI). But others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I also believe they should be viewed:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

After the mega hit and popularity of A NEW HOPE (1977), which was a huge game changer in the world of films and science fiction, it’s only natural that the film would get a continuation. I can’t imagine too many people were complaining.

Fun fact, in my A NEW HOPE review, I mentioned how I never saw that movie until the 1997 Special Editions came out. In fact, my first introduction to Star Wars was this film. Specifically, I think my dad taped it on VHS while it was on TV or some such. Heh, if you ask me, not a bad place to start. Awe, hell, you as long as you don’t start off with the prequel trilogy, I think you’d be in pretty good shape. Sadly, I can’t remember too much about my first experience with the film. I mean, obviously I loved it. Look at me now at the age of twenty-eight? I’m still gushing over Star Wars. But I can’t recall how I reacted to it. Eh, who cares? All I know is that I loved it and it was what sparked my love for Star Wars in the end.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Mark Hamill (BRIGSBY BEAR [2017], BATTLE FOR TERRA [2007], VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED [1995], and the upcoming CON MAN [2018]), Harrison Ford (BLADE RUNNER 2049 [2017], FIREWALL [2006], AIR FORCE ONE [1997], and the upcoming untitled Indiana Jones film [2020]), Carrie Fisher (FANBOYS [2009], WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… [1989], TV show FAMILY GUY [1998 – ongoing], and the upcoming WONDERWELL [2018]), Billy Dee Williams (LEGO BATMAN [2017], FANBOYS [2009], and BATMAN [1989]), and playing Darth Vader is David Prowse (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971]) and voicing Vader, James Earl Jones (THE LION KING [1994], FIELD OF DREAMS [1989], EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC [1977], DR. STRANGELOVE [1964], 4 episodes TV show STAR WARS: REBELS [2014 – ongoing], and the upcoming THE LION KING [2019]). In support, we have Frank Oz (INSIDE OUT [2015], ZATHURA [2005], MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND [1996], LABYRINTH [1986], and THE MUPPET MOVIE [1979]), Anthony Daniels (THE LORD OF THE RINGS [1978] and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]), Kenny Baker (THE KING AND I [1999], AMADEUS [1984], and FLASH GORDON [1980]), Peter Mayhew (EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS, EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, and 1 episode of THE MUPPET SHOW [1976 – 1981]), and Alec Guinness (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA [1962], THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI [1957], and 7 episodes of TV show TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY [1979]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Irvin Kershner, known for ROBOCOP 2 (1990) and 007 NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983). Co-writing the screenplay is Leigh Brackett (THE LONG GOODBYE [1973] and EL DORADO [1967]) and Lawrence Kasdan (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], DREAMCATCHER [2003], WYATT EARP [1994], RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK [1981], and the upcoming SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY [2018]). Composing the score is John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), MUNICH (2005), THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997), THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and the untitled Indiana Jones movie. Finally, the cinematographer is Peter Suschitzky, known for AFTER EARTH (2013), EASTERN PROMISES (2007), MARS ATTACKS! (1996), and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Three years after the destruction of the Death Star at the hands of Luke Skywalker  (Mark Hamill) and Rebels, but the Empire is still strong and coming at the Rebels harder than ever, specifically Darth Vader (David Prowse; voiced by James Earl Jones) obsessively hunting Luke, who has ventured off on his own to locate the great Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) to learn the ways of the Force and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) are on the run, seeking shelter wherever they can find it.

(REVIEW)

Oh man… I have no idea what I’m going to say about this. It’s amazing. It take the previous film and pushes it in almost a radically different direction, making for a much darker, much deeper, and more engaging story than its predecessor.

I think I’m actually going to do something a little controversial that’ll get a few of you upset: mention the problem that I have with the film.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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So here it is. Luke’s on Dagobah training with Yoda, lifting stones and such, when his X-Wing starts sinking into the swamp. He tries to lift it out with the Force, but doesn’t succeed. After his lecture from the two-foot space goblin, Luke stands up and says to him, “You want the impossible,” and storms away in frustration.

 

I don’t understand his mentality here. Is Luke honestly saying that “feeling the Force around him” is impossible? Dude, before the stormtroopers put Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen through the magical and fun world of getting burnt alive, he barely knew what the Force was. Yet, in the time between Obi-Wan’s description of the Force in his hut and that X-Wing taking a dive off the deep end, Luke’s been exposed to what he ought to have considered “impossible.” He witnessed Ben perform a Jedi mind trick on the stormtroopers in Mos Eisley. Instead of getting torn in half by Vader’s lightsaber, he witnessed the old man evaporate into nothing, becoming one with the Force. Hell, even in the Wampa’s cave on Hoth, he managed to Force-pull that lightsaber hilt from the ice after he couldn’t physically reach it. All impossible things! Comparing all that to lifting an X-Wing fighter out of some gross water, this shouldn’t seem so “impossible.”

 

Wouldn’t it have been better for Luke’s character if he took Yoda’s lecture to heart, sat at the swamp’s edge and reflected on what he’s experienced? You can still have it that Luke couldn’t do it because he’s still so inexperienced and Yoda decides to help him out anyway. You show that Luke isn’t being a Debbie-downer, and you still showcase how Yoda’s this all-powerful midget guy that’s a million flavors of awesome.

 

This is quite literally my only problem with the movie.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

But pish posh about the negatives, time to NERDGASM!!!

Let’s talk about our time on Hoth. Again, those miniature AT-AT walkers look fantastic. Hugh, lumbering tanks whose armor is too strong for blasters, damn, those things are terrifyingly awesome. And a battle with ships, but not in space. That must have been a fun concept to pitch. “Wait, so you’re going to have space ships… but not in space? What kind of nonsense is this?” And now we have the battle on Hoth, probably one of the coolest scenes in all of Star Wars. And I love the tradition of putting the audience in the cockpit, really giving you that feeling of flying between the walker’s legs. It’s awesome as hell. And Luke harpooning himself up the belly of that other walker, throwing in that grenade, causing it to explode… oh yeah, I cheered. You better believe it. I may question how Luke fell fifty feet and perfectly landed in the snow without so much as a twisted ankle, but who cares?! Exploding AT-AT! And all those soldiers on the ground running away from the AT-AT’s, iconic.

Oh, and who doesn’t love the banter between Han and Leia?

LEIA
I’d just as soon kiss a wookie!

HAN
I can arrange that. You could use a good kiss!

I know this is a cliché, the two characters hate each other, but everyone knows they’re going to get together in the end, but… wait a second, does this really fall under that category? I mean, it’s clear that there’s an attraction between the two. But they do something that I don’t think I’ve seen replicated. Han knows he’s attracted, so he constantly bates and annoys Leia to admit hers, which I imagine he gets legit fun from because Leia is ready to sling insults like crazy. “You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking, nerf-herder!” Please tell me that I’m not the only one who cracks up at that. But I don’t think enough attention is brought to Han’s reaction. “Who’s scruffy-lookin’?” It’s like the dude knows he’s not the smartest, nor is he going to argue the amazing nerf-herder line, but calling him anything less than attractive, that’s going too far! I love it.

And is it just me, or is it even more intimidating to see a super Star Destroyer next to a bunch of other Star Destroyers, rather than a giant ball of death? I don’t know, giant pizza slices of death are scarier. Pizza is love and life, and when pizza takes that away from you… sadness all around… got off track there. Sorry. There’s something about the Imperial Fleet not needing the Death Star and doing fine on their own that’s such a testament to the threat they really pose. And finally getting our first glimpse at this “Emperor” that was mentioning in passing in A NEW HOPE, and that Vader answers directly to him sends shivers down your spine. He’s only in one scene, and one scene that’s not more than five minutes, but that one scene that’s less than five minutes sticks with you hardcore. I mean, seriously?! Vader answers to someone?! And of course it’s this ominous-looking grim reaper-looking dude! Just… damn! The Empire be scary!

And that’s what makes EMPIRE one of the best sequels out there. It doesn’t vomit up the same thing we saw in the first installment. Lord knows it would have been easy to do that and just rake in the money. A NEW HOPE was a gigantic hit and audiences would have obviously thrown money at the box office to see it, regardless of its quality as a product. But nope, the filmmakers knew that in order to keep it a relevant story for a long time, they needed to take the story to the next step. Han and Leia didn’t have a romantic relationship in the first one, but you can see how some kind of attraction could blossom between them. Luke wasn’t trained in the Force, so let’s have him learn a few things, cut down on the whining, and even dive a little deeper into how the Force works, or make you feel like it’s even more mystical than it already is. That was sure a bonus.

With added new characters and lines that have become cinematic icons, taking a fun, adventure-filled predecessor and successfully going darker and deeper, maintaining the tradition of its practical and visual effects being light-years ahead of our computer generated-happy films of today, and evolving the story and characters that we already know and love, EMPIRE did a whole lot more than just be a great sequel. It did more than just be a great stand-alone film. It proved that Star Wars was here to stay and it wasn’t done yet. The Star Wars saga continued with one of the greatest continuations known to film.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: /5

ESBposter

STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES review – Star Wars Special

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed: by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI). But others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I also believe they should be viewed:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

After the release of PHANTOM (1999), it actually took quite awhile before legit negativity finally surrounded it. Of course, that didn’t stop public interest in seeing the sequel. Anakin was older, Obi-Wan was an official Jedi training Anakin, there was the promise of seeing a ton of Jedi fighting, including Mace Windu and Yoda, the origins of fan-favorite Boba Fett, as well as the rise of the clone troopers that would eventually become the Empire’s stormtroopers, and we were finally going to get an answer to what “The Clone Wars” were when Luke Skywalker referenced them in A NEW HOPE (1977). We were finally heading in the direction the lead to the original trilogy’s timeline, so there was a lot of hype. And as you can imagine, I was totally stoked. I think what I remember most about the advertisements was the character-specific TV spots.

For whatever reason, I loved that these characters were being showcased in their own mini-trailers, which got me all the more excited. Though one does have to ask regarding Mace Windu’s TV spot, half his descriptions make no sense. “Hologram Projector?” “Clone Gunship?” Sure, “Electrum Lightsaber” and “Profession: Jedi Master” make enough sense but both the Clone Gunship and hologram projector were pretty universally used by the Jedi. Why did Mace get specific dibs on those? Whatever, PURPLE LIGHTSABER!!!

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Hayden Christensen (JUMPER [2008], AWAKE [2007], THE VIRGIN SUICIDES [1999], and the upcoming LITTLE ITALY [2018]), Ewan McGregor (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [2017], CASSANDRA’S DREAM [2007], A LIFE LESS ORDINARY [1997], and upcoming films ZOE [2018] and CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2018]), Natalie Portman (SONG TO SONG [2017], THE DARJEELING LIMITED [2007], MARS ATTACKS! [1997], and the upcoming ANNIHILATION [2018]), and Ian McDiarmid (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS [1988]). In support, we have Samuel L. Jackson (THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017], 1408 [2007], JACKIE BROWN [1997], and upcoming films THE LAST FULL MEASURE [2018] and INCREDIBLES 2 [2018]), Frank Oz (INSIDE OUT [2015], ZATHURA [2005], MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND [1996], LABYRINTH [1986], and THE MUPPET MOVIE [1979]), the late and great Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], GREMLINS 2: THE NEXT BATCH [1990], 007 THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN [1974], DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS [1966], and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN [1957]), Temuera Morrison (VERTICAL LIMIT [2000], SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL [1997], video game STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II [2017], and upcoming films OCCUPATION [2018] and AQUAMAN [2018]), and Jimmy Smits (STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE, TV show NYPD BLUE [1993 – 2005], and TV mini-series THE TOMMYKNOCKERS [1993]).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is George Lucas, known for AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). Lucas’ partner-in-pen is Jonathan Hales (a lot of Young Indiana Jones stuff). Composing the score is, of course, John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and Star Wars Episode IX (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is David Tattersall, known for THE FOREIGNER (2017), THE HUNTING PARTY (2007), and CON AIR (1997).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Ten years after the Trade Federation was driven from Naboo, former Queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), now a respected Senator of the Republic has just survived an assassination attempt just as plans are put into motion to try and unite the galaxy that is about to be divided. Believing her life is still in danger, Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) requests that the Jedi protect her, specifically Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his Padawan apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), whom still holds a torch for Padmé. As the mystery of who is trying to kill Padmé becomes clearer, a looming threat of galactic war and the dark side of the Force clouding the vision of the Jedi Masters begins to take form.

(REVIEW)

Oh boy… yeah, this movie really didn’t age well. In fact, I think it’s worse than PHANTOM.

The first problem, which is consistent throughout the entire film, is sadly Anakin. If there was ever a horribly written character for a protagonist, this is the poster child. He’s whiny, he’s a brat, he’s creepy, he’s downright unlikable. Look, the Star Wars films have a nasty history of having whiny main characters. Anakin from PHANTOM, Anakin later on in REVENGE (2005), Luke in both HOPE (1977) and EMPIRE (1980), and Kylo Ren in AWAKENS (2015). Literally, the only movies that didn’t were JEDI (1983) and ROGUE ONE. Out of eight films, only two didn’t have annoying protagonists. That’s not good. But you know something, even at their worst, you can make arguments as to why they were whiny. Anakin was ten years old in PHANTOM. Ten year olds can get whiny. Kylo’s temper tantrums were only two scenes, and Luke’s whininess was only a few scenes as well. But nothing compares to the bitching and moaning that was Anakin in this movie.

The first scene with him almost runs the full gambit of his problems. If it’s been ten years since he’s seen Padmé, how has he carried such a torch for her all these years later? How in hell has he not moved on and only gotten worse as time went by? “I’ve thought about her every day since we’ve parted and… she’s forgotten me completely.” Oh my god, here’s paper shredder, please insert your man-card inside. She’s a damned Republic Senator up to her funky hair in problems that need resolving, NOT TO MENTION an assassination attempt that happened just hours ago, and he’s upset that she isn’t swooning over him right there in full view of an audience, including his own Jedi Master on his right, not just a few inches away? “You’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine.” NO KIDDING!!! And that’s just the first scene with him. It gets so much worse!

When Padmé is fast asleep and Anakin and Obi-Wan are talking as the icky space centipedes are making their way to her, Anakin hasn’t been sleeping well because he’s been dreaming about his mother. Then outright says, “I’d much rather dream about Padmé.” OUR HERO, EVERYBODY!!! Never mind the woman that gave birth to him, raised him as a single mother, loved him, cared for him, provided for him, on whatever a salary is for a slave, and LEFT HER BEHIND TO BECOME A JEDI, FULLY SUPPORTING HIS DREAM, AND REMAINING A SLAVE A DECADE LATER!!! No no no, he would rather think about aggressively negotiating between the sheets. Straightened priorities, y’all!

And none of this does any favors for his creepiness. Before the space centipedes, he says, “She covered the cameras. I don’t think she liked me watching her.” No woman would, you pervert. And in her bedroom as Padmé us packing to leave for Naboo with Anakin, she says to him, “Don’t try to grow up too fast.” First of all, woman, he’s nineteen years old. He’s a grown-ass adult… supposedly. Second, “But am grown up. You said it yourself.” The look Anakin gives her is such a creeper stare that it made me feel like making a bee line to human resources. “Please don’t look at me like that.” “Why not?” “It makes me feel uncomfortable.” “I’m sorry my lady.” That smile he gives her as she storms away, gyech!! I’m cringing and trying to back away in my seat just thinking about it. What the hell, dude?! Was he seriously getting a chubby off of making her creeped out?!

And for a character who is supposed to be more of an adult right now at nineteen years of age, Anakin comes across as more of a child. In that same scene before he creeps out Padmé, he’s makes the claims that he’s ready for the Jedi trials and that Obi-Wan is is as wise as Yoda (Frank Oz) and powerful as Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), being “truly thankful to be his apprentice.” But then in probably the biggest mood swing that you’d swear to God that women on their periods would be calmer and more collected than this, he starts bitching by saying, “[Obi-Wan] thinks I’m too unpredictable and won’t let me move on!” and “He’s overly critical, he never listens, he doesn’t understand! It’s not fair!” A couple lines ago, Padmé said that he’d grown up. Boy was that a load of bantha poodoo mere seconds later.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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Look, I’m sure that’s what Lucas was going for when writing the character and that it was one of the factors that ultimately led him to the dark side, but when you look at the imposing figure that is Darth Vader, the very guy that crushed a man’s throat with his bare hands, Force-choked an Imperial officer via a vid-screen, and practically took on a small squadron of Rebel soldiers after the Death Star plans were stolen right out from under the Empire’s noses, would you have ever at any point looked at that person and thought, yes… Darth Vader was an immature brat in his early adulthood. That’s what I wanted to see. No, if anything, Anakin should more or less have blossoming ideas about the limitations of the Jedi, but still remain loyal to the Order and considerate friend to Obi-Wan. It would have been vastly more interesting than a, “It’s not fair!” while undressing Padmé with his eyes.

 

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How about that relationship between Anakin and Padmé in general? It’s completely unjustified. Okay, Anakin had a crush on her when he was a kid. Cool, sweet, no problems whatsoever. Every little boy develops a crush on an older lady at least once in his childhood. That’s natural. What doesn’t add up is Anakin’s romantic feelings. What does Padmé do to warrant those feelings? What about her character makes him compromise his training and position in the Jedi Order, his passion-dream since he was a kid? Okay, she was the Queen of Naboo, led and coordinated an attack that caused the Trade Federation to leave her planet. But that’s listing her video game stats, that’s not character. What are her feelings? What are her passions? What can the audience relate to about Padmé? Hell, if anything, you can make the very real argument that she’s just as whiny as Anakin, believing that after her royal ship just got blown up and the threat on her life isn’t that serious, doesn’t need more protection, and when she’s ordered to hide out on Naboo, she doesn’t like the idea of hiding. In that respect, maybe she and Anakin are perfect for each other. But at least you can kind of understand why she has her problems. She created the bill that would give the Republic an army to use if they need it, and because of these failed assassination attempts, she won’t be around to see what will happen to it. So that’s perfectly understandable. But how does that warrant romantic feelings? She shows no attraction to him, is only interested in making the galaxy a better place, and all Anakin does is disrupt that. There’s no build-up to their attraction. It also doesn’t help that both actors are give atrocious dialog that even Tim McGraw would make fun of.

In fact, if anything, Padmé is given all the reason in the world not to want to be with him. She already had to cover cameras so that he wouldn’t watch her, asked him to to keep his eyes to himself due to her discomfort. Even in that pivotal scene when the two are sitting in the dark with Portman’s cleavage all over the place, Anakin just keeps pushing for her to admit her feelings and even when she’s completely shut him out, refusing to admit feelings she does or doesn’t have, he’s all like, “We can keep it a secret.” Shut up, you dumb horny kid! This lack of respect should have been enough for her to consider him a lost cause.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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The crowning moment for them to never be together was when Anakin goes on that killing spree of his after finding his mother. Look, I actually don’t blame the guy for it. In fact, I think as far as a gut reaction is concerned, it’s not the worst idea and we finally see that hint of the future Darth Vader. Here’s what I do have a problem with: when Anakin tells Padmé that he didn’t just kill the warrior men, but the Tusken Raider women and children too.

 

Hey, I fancy myself a Star Wars fan. I’ve played a few extended universe games. I know the Raiders are just fairly savage and uncivilized people, but they’re still people. I can believe that the women aren’t above putting up a fight, but I have a strong feeling that the children don’t put up great fights. Meaning, killing them was senseless. Children, dude. That’s an incredibly long list of screwed up, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that. Well, maybe I can satisfyingly just say that Anakin murdering Tusken children should be enough for Padmé to not want to be with him. Fine, he’s hurting, he has baggage, women occasionally go for guys that they want to fix, but not like this. And not mere hours later after the fact to admit feelings.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

Beyond Anakin and Padmé, what else is wrong with the movie? Mostly a bunch of little things. When Obi-Wan starts looking for the missing planet Kamino, he talks to Yoda about advice while he’s teaching a class of younglings. Why is it that it’s an eight year old kid is the one who tells him that someone erased from the archive memory? How is this supposed impossibility not registered as a possibility for the adults? The humor that C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) belts out is really bad and desperate. “This is such a drag.” “Oh, I’m quite beside myself.” Ugh, give me a break. By the way, is a protocol droid’s body even remotely compatible with a battle droid’s? How can he kind of control their bodies when his head is attached to one? Why does Zam Wesell’s blaster pistol sound like a TIE fighter’s guns? A 60’s diner? Really? In the Star Wars universe?! Come on, guys! More than that, it’s just a horrible script with lines of dialog that make zero sense.

OBI-WAN
It’s too risky. Besides, your senses aren’t as attuned
as mine.

ANAKIN
And yours are?

OBI-WAN
Possibly.

Um… what?

Alright, alright. I once said that I don’t hate the prequels. While certainly I will polish my words in the future having revisited them, there must be something in this movie to like, right? Well… yes. As a matter of fact, there is a few things that I like, even within this movie.

The film is still visually pleasing to look at. Coruscant still looks awesome, Naboo still looks beautiful, Tatooine is still great, and Geonosis looks cool too. Visually, the film is still wonderful.

And ironically, the best part of the romance between Anakin and Padmé was not their romance itself, but rather John Williams’ score for it. Again, how much of a testament is it to Williams’ brilliance that his score “Across the Stars” is the what stood out about that relationship?

As far in between as the action is this time around, I do really like it. That fight scene with Obi-Wan and Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) still really stands out. Seriously, why is Boba Fett a fan favorite again? I know, I know! Extended universe and all, but in the movies, he does nothing. Jango fought off a Jedi Knight and defeated him. Twice! I read that the whole point of that scene was to showcase a more hand-to-hand fight, which I did appreciate. I wish that the fight scene featured more of it, as it seemed like most of the struggle was Obi-Wan trying to get his saber back, rather than putting up a legit melee fight. I mean, really, Jedi may be married to their sabers, but stuff happens. They have to have their melee styles of fighting should they ever get separated from their sabers. Still, I enjoyed that scene immensely.

Also, death sticks.

Yes. Just… a thousand yeses and laughs from me. Love that bit.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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But what absolutely saves the film from being wholly bad, in my opinion, is the ending. Specifically the moment when Mace Windu and the army of Jedi show up to save Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé. When those lightsabers lit up, I got the chills dude. I squirmed in my seat with excitement. And when that army of battle droids came charging toward a charging army of Jedi, I nerdgasmed SOOOOOO hard, you have no idea. I’ve loved the Jedi so much, but this was everything that I wanted and more. And then when they’re all huddled together about the be executed, I nerdgasmed again when the Clones arrived with Yoda! I screamed with pleasure at how many droid bits were flying all over the place. Armies en mass just charging toward each other with the Jedi in the lead. And Dooku (Christopher Lee) versus Anakin and Obi-Wan… and then Dooku versus A JUMPING AND FLIPPING LIGHTSABER WIELDING YODA!!! Oh my god, I still can’t get over how awesome that was! Shut up, I’m not asking why he needs that walking stick of his, YODA HAS A LIGHTSABER AND IS JUMPING AND FLIPPING AROUND!!! SHHHH SHHHHH SHHHHHHHH I AM IMMUNE TO YOUR LOGICAL QUESTIONS!!!

 

Ehem… bottom line, the final twenty some odd minutes made the movie worthwhile. I’m in love with those scenes quite passionately.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

On the whole, no, the movie’s not very good. I have some huge problems with the Anakin as the protagonist and the relationship between him and Padmé. It’s a mess of a film and I find it impossible to defend for the most part. But really, if it weren’t for the last twenty minutes of the movie, I’d consider this a straight-up bad film. Instead, it’s simply… not good. Of all the Star Wars films, this one makes me the most upset and I have the most problems with. I think the last act of the film is worth watching, but the two hours it takes for me to get to that point is… debatable if it’s worth the journey. The saga sure did continue, but it continued with an epic stumble.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES: a weak 3/5

clones

STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE review – Star Wars Special

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed: by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI). But others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I also believe they should be viewed:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

It probably wasn’t an accident that the Special Edition VHS set was released a mere two years earlier before EPISODE I came out. It was likely meant to revitalize interest in the films and start the fireworks of hype surrounding a return to the franchise, and with George Lucas returning to the helm. Believe it or not, he didn’t direct either EPISODE V or VI and his career as a director has been pretty vacant up to that point.

I was hyped too. I mean, ten year old me definitely wanted to see the tragic life story of one of cinemas greatest villains. Starting from when he was a kid, no less. It sounded pretty cool to me. The special effects looked cool, and lightsabers! Lightsabers galore! Man, I wanted to see this so bad.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jake Lloyd (JINGLE ALL THE WAY [1996]), Natalie Portman (SONG TO SONG [2017], MR. MAGORIUM’S WONDER EMPORIUM [2007], HEAT [1995], and the upcoming ANNIHILATION [2018]), Liam Neeson (MARK FELT [2017], BATMAN BEGINS [2005], MICHAEL COLLINS [1996], and upcoming films THE COMMUTER [2018] and WIDOWS [2018]), and Ewan McGregor (T2 TRAINSPOTTING [2017], MISS POTTER [2006], THE SERPENT’S KISS [1997], and upcoming films CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2018] and ZOE [2018]). In support, we have Ian McDiarmid (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS [1988]), Ray Park (G.I. JOE: RETALIATION [2013], X-MEN [2000], and MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION [1997]), Pernilla August (a ton of Swedish films), Hugh Quarshie (WING COMMANDER [1999], HIGHLANDER [1986], and TV show HOLBY CITY [1999 – ongoing]), and Ahmed Best (KANGAROO JACK: G’DAY, U.S.A. [2004]).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is George Lucas, known for EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, and AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). Composing the score is the living legend, John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005), THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and the untitled Indiana Jones movie [2020]. Finally, the cinematographer is David Tattersall, known for THE FOREIGNER (2017), NEXT (2007), and CON AIR (1997).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Thirty years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, a pair of Jedi Knights, Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), are sent to deal with a trade dispute, headed by the greedy Trade Federation, that is dangerously close to breaking laws and to settle on an agreement. However, the negotiations don’t take place and the Jedi escape to the planet to save the queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) from the Federation forcing to sign off on legalizing an invasion of their planet. She’s ultimately saved and taken off world, but she and the Jedi’s ship take damage and find refuge on the desert planet of Tatooine, where they happen across a young slave boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), whom Qui-Gon believes has tremendous potential to become a Jedi.

(REVIEW)

Alright, so while I maintain that I don’t hate this movie… yeah, I can’t deny that it hasn’t aged well. I’ve certainly revisited this in recent years, I can now put myself on blast and state precisely what I still love about the movie, and what I don’t, of which there is plenty of both.

Let’s start with the negatives.

When I was ten years old, I didn’t have a problem with Jar Jar (Ahmed Best). I was at that age where funny voices made a funny character. Well, fast forward to 2017, I am twenty-eight years old and… no, Jar Jar isn’t funny anymore. I have learned that it’s not funny voices that make a funny character, it’s a funny character that makes funny voices and Jar Jar has no character. Hell, in a lot of ways, it’s arguable that he’s even supposed to function as comic relief. I mean, look at his lines. “Yousa follow me now, okie day?” “The sun is doing murder to mesa skin.” Where’s the joke? Honestly, it just sounds like he’s talking and saying sentences, not making jokes. But it’s obvious that he’s supposed to be comedy relief because he makes faces at Qui-Gon on Tatooine. He has lines like, “How rude!” He steps on animal crap (Seriously, poop humor in Star Wars?). It just doesn’t make any sense. Fine, any one of these things could be forgiven if Jar Jar was any interesting as a character, but he’s not. Tell me about Jar Jar, if you can. Talk my ear off. Tell me who he is. Make me think. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me feel anything for him. I bet you can’t. You wanna know why? Because the story gives him nothing. His back story is that he was banished because he broke something that belonged to Boss Nass (Brian Blessed). But being “clumsy” isn’t a character. It’s a character trait. Compare him to another character, like Qui-Gon. You can’t say Qui-Gon’s long hair is his character. He’s a stoic, no-nonsense, seasoned Jedi Master. He’s defiant; doesn’t always agree with the Jedi Code, even telling Obi-Wan things that go against the words of the greatest of Jedi masters, Yoda (Frank Oz). He’s believes that Anakin is an anomaly and wants to train him and become a great Jedi in the future due to a prophecy, seeing potential in the boy that can bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith forever. See what I’m doing? Qui-Gon has a character. A distinguished character. Jar Jar is only a voice.

Now, let’s talk about the other disgraced character in this movie: Anakin, specifically the actor, Lloyd. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the actor. He’s a kid. Not every kid actor is a golden egg. But I don’t think he’s that bad. But do you want to know what I do think is bad? The script. Similar to the Twilight franchise, yeah, everyone on screen was a bad actor, even though the actors themselves are not bad at all. But when you’re handed a script that gives you the worst dialog to work with, no amount of talent can save it. And considering how young Lloyd was, he had to put a lot of faith in the direction, which wasn’t saying a whole lot considering that Lucas hadn’t directed anything in decades. So of course Lloyd wasn’t very good. But Portman wasn’t very good. Hayden Christensen wasn’t very good. But that’s because the script was horrible. Lucas can show flashes of good direction here and there, but I don’t think he’s ever been a good writer. He has great ideas, he has a fantastic vision, but his execution isn’t good, and unfortunately, Lloyd was a victim of Lucas’ lesser attributes. So was Anakin a good character? Eh… we’ll get into that later. I acknowledge that most of his lines are bad, but I don’t blame him for it. He didn’t write the script and he wasn’t directing himself. So when people bash the character, I hope they’re bashing the character, not the actor.

And there’s a ton of stuff, story-wise, that makes no sense. First off, the Trade Federation is concerned about their invasion being legal. But why isn’t the blockade illegal itself? The Jedi survived the Federation’s attempt to kill them, so why don’t they go to the Senate and testify against them? They’ve seen the tanks, the hordes of troops occupying the city of Theed, it shouldn’t be this hard to get some balls rolling in the right direction. And really? It’s that easy to throw an entire Senate into voting for new Supreme Chancellors by simply saying, “Yeah, nah, brah, I don’t like you. Someone new, please!” and then the entire system gets overhauled overnight? Did it even take that long? In just a few hours? Eh, different hair style on Amidala, so… overnight it is. At the very least, it seemingly happened pretty quickly and I’m taking a wild guess, it takes YEARS for that to happen. Backtracking a bit, why was Jar Jar around for so long? Okay, the Jedi needed help getting to Theed and Jar Jar took them to his home underwater, leading to getting that submarine. By the way, those underwater fish-chase scenes were completely useless… even though I do love that “there’s always a bigger fish” line. Once they got to where they needed to go, his usefulness was outlived. Bringing him to save Amidala, bringing him into Mos Eisley to look for ship parts, what function does he serve. How does he assist? Sure, he gets the group to the sacred Gungan place, leading to an army at Naboo’s disposal, but this could have easily been rectified. Leave Jar Jar on Naboo, give him the submarine to give back to his people, or take it to go back into exile, and then come back to find him and convince him to help Naboo. It would have been less Jar Jar and more practical storytelling.

Before we get into the things that I happened to like about the movie, it’s time to talk about the final controversy that’s impossible to avoid: the midichlorians. Personally… I don’t get the hate. At all. It’s widely said that midichlorians explain where the Force comes from, taking away the mystery or whatever the hell. I say… they don’t do anything. Okay, so in A NEW HOPE (1977), Obi-Wan says that the Force is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together. Direct quote. Okay, cool so far. I think calling it an “energy field” explains the Force a little bit, but fine, whatever, I’m down so far. Now shifting the focus back on midichlorians, Qui-Gon says that they’re microscopic lifeforms that reside within all living cells. Okay… so far, not seeing how that explains where the Force comes from, or how it takes away from the mystery of it. Well, how about I acknowledge the whole, “midichlorian count” that took place on Tatooine. Anakin has a count of over 20,000, a number even Yoda doesn’t have. Okay, so the proverbial math seems to be that the more midichlorians you have, the more powerful in the Force you can get. I see the connection, but I don’t see the explanation that drives people so bonkers. In video games, I’ve seen a dude rip a Star Destroyer from the sky (STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED [2008]) and another guy that ceased to be flesh and blood altogether, becoming a walking semi-talking mass of dark side that literally destroyed an entire Force-sensitive planet and its Force-sensitive inhabitants (STAR WARS KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC II: THE SITH LORDS [2004]). The questions of just how the Force works remain intact. The possibilities of the Force’s power is still limitless. The only thing that midichlorians do is measure how much of the Force a Force-sensitive person can use.

Having said all that, there is one issue that I have with midichlorians, but I can’t tackle that here. We’ll just have to wait for my EPISODE III review.

But because I am a huge fan of Star Wars movies, it’s not enough to acknowledge what was done wrong. PHANTOM isn’t the worst movie of all time and that’s because it does a few things right.

For one thing, I think much of the CGI is really good. The space ships look sleek and sexy, from the royal starship that the characters use to escape from Naboo to the Naboo snub fighters. And by God, the landscapes look incredible. All of the wide shots of the cities look gorgeous. If nothing else, the production value is to be commended and always looks amazing. John Williams’ score is ridiculously breath-taking. Honestly, I think if there’s anything that PHANTOM should be commended for is the epic score. DUEL OF THE FATES is one of the best tracks to come out of not just the Star Wars films, but in films, period. There is still an incredible amount of imagination to the films. The destroyer droids are awesome, Darth Maul (Ray Park) and his double-bladed lightsaber, the alien designs, it’s all phenomenal to look at. Visually, this film is wonderful.

When I was a kid, I loved the original trilogy. Luke and Ben Kenobi were my favorite characters because they were Jedi. For me, the most amazing thing that I wanted to see was the Jedi before the Empire wiped them out. So you can probably imagine that because they got some solid screen time, I was more than happy with that. The Jedi, Qui-Gon and young Obi-Wan were awesome. They were doing flips, acrobats, twirling the lightsabers, it was closer to watching dance numbers than fight sequences. Watching green and blue blades slicing through countless stupid droids was truly awesome to watch. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I saw the Jedi for the first time, but I remember loving what I saw, and I love it even to this day. I know many will claim that the original trilogy had more distinguished and fun characters, but I stand by that this movie has interesting characters as well. They’re distinguished enough for this new set of films and don’t feel like stock characters from the previous films. I like the stoic, calm, cool, and collected warriors and saw enough emotions in them to care. So when the Jedi were in action, I gushed and I still gush today. If nothing else, the action was the best part of the movie, especially coupled with Williams’ score.

And I there’s one scene that still stands out as really well executed: Anakin saying goodbye to his mother, Shmi (Pernilla August). While I may not understand why Shmi has a Swedish accent and Anakin’s is American, I still bought that they were mother and son. I especially love August as an actress. I really felt the burden of a mother who’s a slave and has to watch her son do these horribly dangerous things, but being utterly powerless to stop it, both because of her social status and her son’s determination. And to see it all culminate into watching her son freed from servitude and off to become a Jedi, her son’s greatest dream… it’s a heart-breaker and I still fall in love with this scene. And for the record, this is where I believe that Lloyd is a good actor.

Look, I’m not immune to the flaws. They’re there, and they’re there in spades. I understand the hate, for the most part. But I just can’t say that I’m on that bandwagon. It’s not my favorite of the films, by any means, but I still enjoy it. Objectively speaking, is it a good film? Probably not. It’s got plot holes that would make swiss cheese feel inadequate, there’s far too many annoying characters, the script isn’t good, the direction is hit and miss, it’s an undeniable mess. But the visuals are great, the action’s fantastic, the score is epic, and these are the elements that keep me coming back to it. The beginning of the saga is a stumble. But for me, it’s not a face-plant.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE: 3/5

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STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE review – Star Wars Special

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed, by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI). But others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I also believe they should be viewed:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

So fun fact about my history with Star Wars, I actually didn’t see A NEW HOPE until the 1997 Special Edition releases. Even to this day, I’ve never technically seen the very first original releases, which is such a shame in my opinion, knowing that the Special Edition, the subsequent DVD, and eventual Blu-Ray releases are my definitive Star Wars experiences. Having said that, I do know some of the changes. For example, the scene with Han Solo talking to Jabba the Hut was never in the original version. It was a cut scene featuring a dude in a fur coat or whatever. Also, I’m pretty sure the new editions have Luke’s lightsaber actually blue, as opposed to the original white. Regardless, I hate that we’ll never get the original cuts on Blu-Ray, but I guess that’s life.

In case you were wondering, I haven’t done a “special review” of ROGUE ONE. This is because I’ve already reviewed it. No duh. So I’ll quickly go over why I think if you’re going to watch the movies in my order and why ROGUE ONE is the movie that you should start with. Mostly, I think anywhere else would make it an awkward placement. In retrospect, it sets up A NEW HOPE rather perfectly and flows quite nicely since the two films don’t take place too far from each other, timeline-wise. ROGUE ONE doesn’t have too many prequel references, if any, so there’s no risk of anything being spoiled in later films. It keeps itself quite self-contained, there’s no Jedi, it strictly focuses on the war between the Rebels and the Empire, which is mostly the focus of A NEW HOPE, just with characters that we’re destined to follow. I don’t like that A NEW HOPE isn’t the first movie, but while adults may be bummed, kids who will be watching these won’t know the difference.

Anyway, onward to this film.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Mark Hamill (BRIGSBY BEAR [2017], BATTLE FOR TERRA [2007], VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED [1995], and the upcoming CON MAN [2018]), Harrison Ford (BLADE RUNNER 2049 [2017], FIREWALL [2006], AIR FORCE ONE [1997], and the upcoming untitled Indiana Jones film [2020]), Carrie Fisher (FANBOYS [2009], WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… [1989], TV show FAMILY GUY [1998 – ongoing], and the upcoming WONDERWELL [2018]), Alec Guinness (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA [1962], THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI [1957], and 7 episodes of TV show TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY [1979]), and playing the iconic Darth Vader, David Prowse (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971]) and voicing Vader, James Earl Jones (THE LION KING [1994], FIELD OF DREAMS [1989], EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC [1977], DR. STRANGELOVE [1964], 4 episodes TV show STAR WARS: REBELS [2014 – ongoing], and the upcoming THE LION KING [2019]). In support, we have Peter Cushing (THE MUMMY [1959]), Anthony Daniels (THE LORD OF THE RINGS [1978] and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]), Kenny Baker (THE KING AND I [1999], AMADEUS [1984], and FLASH GORDON [1980]), and Peter Mayhew (EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS, EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, and 1 episode of THE MUPPET SHOW [1976 – 1981]).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is George Lucas, known for EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, and AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). Composing the score is the living legend, John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), MUNICH (2005), AMISTAD (1997), THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and the untitled Indiana Jones movie. Finally, the cinematographer is Gilbert Taylor, known for FLASH GORDON (1980), THE OMEN (1976), and DR. STRANGELOVE.

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The evil Galactic Empire just lost the plans to their ultimate planet destroying weapon, the Death Star. Hiding the plans in a little robot droid named R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), he and his robot companion C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) has been attacked by the nefarious Darth Vader and the droids escape to a desert planet where they arrive at a farm and meet young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who decides to help them look for the for an old ally of the Rebels known as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), who may be a great help to the Rebels.

(REVIEW)

Surprised? The movie holds up hilariously well. And I really do mean that.

It’s a sad day in Disneyland when you realize that a vast majority of the miniatures used in 1977 look infinitely better than a majority of the computer generated imagery of 2017. Seriously, the art and visual effects department would be laughing their collective butts off if they knew what they created. And if I remember correctly, they were worried it’d look too fake.

Well, to be fair, they weren’t always wrong. Weirdly enough, it’s only when things explode that it looks fake. When ships are just flying by the camera and firing at each other with no visible damage being done to the ships in question, they look amazing. I’m basically referring to the opening scene between the Tantive IV and the Star Destroyer right after the opening text crawl. Like I said, flying past the camera, looks amazing. But as soon as the Tantive IV explodes, well… because we’ve seen many sci-fi space films in the last forty years try to portray physics in space, and many succeed to the point of being scientifically accurate, the explosions are just obviously not… real. As far as space physics are concerned, if that makes sense. But hey, it’s the late 70’s. It’s hard to be upset about something that the technology at the time wouldn’t be able to pull off well. In any case, one can still admire that the explosions themselves are real and not CG.

Beyond that, what else do we have? Quite a bit, so let’s get to listing.

Luke Skywalker, hell of a name, even to this day. Quick story, I had a theater class in high school and we were playing an improv game. I forget the specifics, but basically someone shouted from the audience, “Luke, look! It’s a skywalker!” A clumsy exclamation, to be sure, but the student in question immediately responded with, “What, is it Star Wars? I’ve never seen the movies.” First off, BLASPHEMY!!! How do you live in the modern age, surrounded by television and not seen Star Wars?! Second, what an extraordinary testament to the influence of this franchise that even people who haven’t seen the films will know where it comes from. It’s like the original jingle to the Super Mario game. Everyone knows it. it’s just that iconic. Having said that, it’s just a shame that Luke is a pretty whiny character. “But I was going to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!” “You bet I could, I’m not such a bad pilot myself!” “Well why don’t you outrun ’em? I thought you said this thing was fast!” Yeah, I love Hamill, believe me, I LOVE Hamill, but Luke was more akin to a child than a young adult. Thankfully, it eventually runs its course, particularly after the Death Star.

Han Solo. Can someone explain to me why everyone cares who shot first? Like… who gives a @#$%? Even Harrison Ford didn’t give a crap! (skip to the 2:00 mark)

I’m pretty sure people only ask at this point because his reaction is so hilarious. Anyway, Han’s a jerk. But you know what? He made it look fun and cool before Robert Downey Jr. did, so don’t forget that. He’s no hero, but he’s honest about it. He charges extra to avoid Imperial entanglements, he doesn’t want to save Princess Leia (bet he’s grateful that he ultimately did, as he got to boink her later on), even says to her face that he doesn’t care about her or the Rebellion and coldly tells her that expects to be well paid for his actions. What an ass! But still, he’s not without his redemption. On the one hand, he does show concern, and he it’s not like his quips aren’t funny. “Look, your Worshipfulness.” Still cracks me up.

Anyone else think that Princess Leia was ahead of her time? I mean, she’s kind of bad-ass, she’s just as wise-cracky as Han, and plus, her wickedly cool hair style. Ugh, no one else will ever wear anything that she wore better than Fisher. It’s always the ones we love, never the ones we hate. Sure, the random British accent was odd, and sure she’s not given the best lines, but you know what, she made it work! Fisher did wonders with her character.

Maybe that’s the best way to describe the characters of A NEW HOPE. They’re simple, no real depth, but they’re distinguishable, and the actors are so charismatic and charming that the characters just work. In a way, that actually best describes the film as a whole: simple, yet functional.

Now, is that to say the movie is without flaws? Eh, no. A part of the reason it sort of bums me out that the prequels were so thrashed for their problems, few people ever acknowledge that those same problems existed here too. The bad dialog, the sub-par direction, it’s all present.

Seriously, what’s that Imperial Officer on the right doing? He was literally given an order and he just stands there, watching Vader talk to himself. Look, for all intents and purposes, the reason why a lot of the flaws are overlooked is because there was a simplicity to the story and the actors were charmingly simple as well, plus the ground-breaking visuals for the time (and even today, lets face it) were only magnified in the prequels because the charm wasn’t there, the story was far too convoluted, and the visuals were a little too in our faces. In retrospect, the movie was lucky to have so much working for it that no one really cared about the flaws. Regardless, the flaws are there.

The truth is though, A NEW HOPE is a timeless film that stretches the imagination, creating something that not only revived a genre that wasn’t doing well at the time, but made it so popular that it’s still in demand to this day. It’s legacy isn’t just felt, it’s the standard and for damn good reason. Iconic characters, visuals, that music that will never leave our heads, it’s an incredible experience that I think anyone and everyone can enjoy.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE: 5/5

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