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Solo: A Star Wars Story REVISITED—for a Few LONG Paragraphs

2nd Viewing

I can vividly picture the lead, cooperate managers at Disney involved with the making of this tenth installment in the blindly worshipped Star Wars franchise…

There lies a few faceless men and women, barking orders and pointing fingers with their Mickey Mouse gloves on at talented teams of inspiring moviemakers. These are the kind of individuals who drink apple juice out of wine glasses just to give common folk the idea that they’re rich and successful. These are those upper-class evil villains you see in your favorite cartoons—ironically made by Disney—that twirl their Monopoly mustaches around in circles and celebrate in secret lairs after hearing they’ve just cracked another billion or so dollars at the box office—which luckily wasn’t the case for this movie. 

I could literally smell the Old Spice and DKNY fragrance on these masterminds oozing out of my television screen. 

These are the kinds of people who would fire creative artists such as Phil Lord and Chris Miller in order to keep tameness and artificial order amongst a once thriving franchise. They have die-hard Star Wars fans on puppet strings who won’t object to this sort of tasteless, vanilla filmmaking. More sadly, however, they have this generation of kids on puppet strings too. Just play the old Star Wars movies for your children, please. One viewing of A New Hope can save one desperate child who witnessed the forgettable shallowness of Solo

Okay, okay. Laughs and jokes aside…

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a prime example of a Mad Libs movie where the whole ordeal is completely reliant on your knowledge of Han Solo’s character from the original saga. The plot follows under the concept of “filling in the blanks” of the small, unnecessary things that were left unlearned about the smug, trouble-making character. If you were to remove all preexisting information on the character of Han Solo, this movie becomes absolutely nothing but an uninspired, over-budgeted, straight-to-DVD Hallmark adventure flick. 

“*beep* this *beep* *beep* movie!” – the real R2-D2

Verdict: D+

Star Wars Ranked

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is now available to stream on Netflix.

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Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) REVISITED

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

4th Viewing 

Part VIII of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

I want to try something moderately different that I don’t reckon has been done with a semi-negative, semi-positive Last Jedi review yet—keyword: try. I’m going to do my very best to explain why I whole-heartedly believe that The Last Jedi is not a good movie without using old Star Wars “lore” facts as a way to demean it. I genuinely want to express my reasons for why Rian Johnson’s jab at the franchise is a partially-poor blockbuster regardless of what it did for the legacy. 

Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi: An illusion that made critics believe that they were watching something tastefully divergent and a savage device that split fans harder than cement. I’ve gone back and forth from loving to hating to loving and then to hating this movie over and over again—it’s been fun; not gonna lie, and that’s not sarcasm! 

Now, at this point, I’m pretty much determined that The Last Jedi is just a “meh” movie. No, it’s not the worst movie ever made in the history of cinema nor is it the best movie ever made in the history of cinema—you silly, silly people. It’s just a middling, try-hard entry in a franchise that’s been desperately running low on steam and originality, so much so, that it’ll try anything in its capacity to be “different.” 

The best part of The Last Jedi is simultaneously the worst part of The Last Jedi. The new ideas that are added to the lore to give Star Wars a new flair are fairly interesting and fruitful but are executed in such a spontaneous fashion and with such haphazard laziness that it’s hard to not question their existence. I encourage the writers of this franchise to change things up with fresh elements that fans haven’t experienced before yet and to mix up the formula of these Star Wars motion pictures, but my main gripe with The Last Jedi is that most of these alterations are executed quite abysmally, without reason nor logic. 

So yes, this movie is a tad grimy. Messy, yes, but no, The Last Jedi is not the worst thing to ever happen to Star Wars—don’t get your knickers in a twist. Star Wars has either been sucking hard or floating melodramatically for the past 36 years now. I have never understood why we continue to support this franchise that just…stopped…being… interesting…a long…long…time…ago.

Rian Johnson—A MAN, MAY I REMIND YOU, I RESPECT BECAUSE HE MADE LOOPER AND DIRECTED SOME BREAKING BAD EPISODES AND ALL THOSE THINGS F*** HARD—fails to write a cohesive story in The Last Jedi. And, I’m about 99.9% certain he’s not even the one to completely be blamed for this. Imagine being handed an entire franchise that had to continue off of a movie that set up a TON of unanswered storylines, with limited time, and were then just told to “make whatever the hell you want—but add the Porgs so we can sell merch!” 

Pros:

  • Luke being an old, grumpy, force-hating agitator was an idea that I actually really appreciated and thought worked—despite most fans finding it to be an absolute betrayal of the character. Luke’s motive is fairly justified in the scene where he causes Kylo to turn, so I don’t understand why people find it so difficult to believe his alteration in beliefs. I mean, I feel like after causing one of your students to become one of the evilest Sith lords in the Republic that ultimately slaughtered most of your students, you would be pushed into hating the thing you once taught and preached. It makes sense to me. Anakin was Jedi and he turned, so obviously people can have a change in heart, Jedi or not.
  • Rey and Kylo Ren’s long-distance force conversations are intensely engrossing. Arguably, these exchanges between the two conflicted souls are the most admirable features of The Last Jedi.
  • Rey’s hallucinatory vision is just plain fascinating. Disney has surprisingly been pleasing the druggies in this new saga. Go figure. 
  • The throne room scene is candidly one of the greatest sequences in Star Wars history. This is one of the few times where I actually believe Rian Johnson “subverted our expectations” in a moderately breathtaking way. The turn doesn’t feel forced, misplaced, or just plain illogical; it appears genuine. The surprise doesn’t have plot holes nor leakage in its intricate details; it treads a conceptual foreground. Yes, the fans didn’t get their answers for who Snoke was, but I got to see a CGI man dressed in golden robes get chopped in half, and that’ll have to do. Considering Snoke was never interesting in the first place, I was whole-heartedly fine with Kylo shockingly killing him in one epic, powerful blow. The fight is also 100 times more believable than any contrived lightsaber battle in the prequel trilogy—to those whining about it. 
  • The concept of Rey and Kylo teaming up is just flat out awesome—it kills me to see that it wasn’t the central storyline in the movie. All though, if it had instantaneously happened in this movie, it would’ve felt unearned—we’d need some more development for such a drastic thing to happen—but again, it’s the unexpected concept that I’m praising. Having some neutral, hybrid of the Republic and the Rebels would’ve somewhat switched up the repetitive storyline of Disney’s take on the Skywalker saga. 
  • The whole “Rey is a nobody” concept is perfectly fine with me but we all know Abrams will probably screw that up in The Rise of Skywalker.
  • I actually really dig the hologram scene/battle between Kylo and Luke. However, once again, with more build-up or possible hints that this could be possible in the force would’ve made the sequence a lot more warranted. I can totally understand people who hate it because it is very far-fetched, but the pure shock value of the sequence and Luke saying “see you around kid” as if he was Kylo Ren’s father (Han Solo) truly struck me. 
  • Here’s a list of some other commendable sequences in The Last Jedi: Snoke bringing Kylo’s spirit down for getting beaten by Rey. Luke making Rey envision what is made up of the force. Holdo’s visually grand sacrifice. Anything relating to Chewbacca.

Cons:

  • The comedy in The Last Jedi is just flat out HORRENDOUS. Almost every gag is utterly cringy, forced, and prime examples of jokes that can only work for a once in a lifetime ordeal. 
  • Ya guys did Princess Leia dirty. Like, c’mon. There is no way you people could make her fly with no lead-up or hints to it and expect people not to think it’s the most hilarious event to ever transpire in Star Wars yet. Yes, she should be able to use the physical powers of the force, but like, did it really take her 50-something years to do so while she was unconsciously floating in space? Pretty questionable. 
  • How they wrote Vice Admiral Holdo. Sure, her sacrifice was d-o-p-e, but her intentions made no sense whatsoever. Her putting her own people at peril because she wanted to not tell anyone exactly what was going on for no apparent reason other than to be an asshole is such a grand-sized plot hole.
  • The Finn and Rose’s Canto Bight sequence is just riddled with issues. I’m also not a fan of how they made Finn and Rose’s foolery the cause of hundreds of Rebel deaths—nice going. 
  • Rose’s character is just…ugh. I like the flaming pride and aspiration she starts off with, but then quickly does she begin to contradict her own motives and personality throughout the film. None of this is, by the way, the actress’s fault—she has nothing to do with the awful development of her character, just like the poor dude that was harassed for playing Jar Jar Binks.
  • Benicio Del Toro is lazily inserted into the movie. How they meet DJ is so poorly riddled with coincidence, it has me questioning what was going on in the writer’s room when this part of the story was written. The fact that Finn and Rose happened to be locked in a cage with a code breaker who just decided to escape right as they were coming in is hilariously fortuitous. 
  • Poe’s character is completely different than he was in The Force Awakens—obnoxiously. In The Last Jedi, he’s this arrogant asshole who completely neglects the many deaths he caused for encouraging Leia to send in bomb fleets. BAD!
  • The “save the animals” message in this movie is so out of place and force-feed. I remember seeing that scene where they’re riding those giant Fathiers and legitimately thinking that the movie was trolling us. I kid you not, I was dumbfounded (LOL). When you compare the action in this movie to the action in The Force Awakens, there is a significant difference in quality. Rian Johnson just isn’t that educated in crafting large-scaled (action spectacles. It additionally, doesn’t help your message when you realize Rose decided to save a bunch of animals rather than the slave children who now have to clean up the mess Rose has made. Damn. The “selling weapons” message though whether to the good or bad side was insightful, however—and not meaty or excessive. 
  • Rose saving Finn from sacrificing himself is single-handedly the most contradicting event to happen in this entire movie. Not only is the potential of Finn’s entire character arc completely diminished in The Last Jedi, but Rose’s original passion to save and fight for the rebellion at all costs is completely overruled. In an attempt where Finn could’ve possibly saved all of the Rebellion from certain death, Rose decides to entirely contradict her beliefs to save this boy that she’s fallen in love with within the course of a day. Plus, I don’t know how she could’ve ever assumed that the two would survive a traumatic crash like that. Disgusting. 
  • Luke’s death is poorly handled in my opinion. You can’t just make him stare at a binary sunset like he did in A New Hope and expect people to be pleased with that. Cheap move. There is no reason for him to have died in this movie. 
  • PORGS! And, BB-8 on top of an AT-ST with its top purposely removed so we can see BB-8. Those factors alone shouldn’t even need an explanation. 

In these analyzations of the pros and the cons, it can be safe to say that I found The Last Jedi to be saved of being some blockbuster crisis because of its memorable and unforgettable sequences—that actually gainfully moved characters in new directions. These sequences nonetheless were sporadically misplaced into the very grubby plot that randomly inserted shocking events for the sake of randomly inserting shocking events. I couldn’t care less about the Star Wars lore technicalities that were mismatched (tracking through light speed, ghost Yoda being Zeus, force powers can now communicate clearly and send holograms), but I damn well care about the story elements in a movie feeling EARNED.

People are acting like it’s an apocalypse out there because this movie wasn’t good—it’s really amusing, to be honest. This isn’t life-or-death s***, it’s Star Wars. Sending abuse messages and threats to The Last Jedi co-stars is embarrassing and right-out unacceptable. Rian Johnson didn’t ruin Star Wars, you babies. George Lucas didn’t ruin it when he made two s*** prequels. Dave Filoni didn’t scramble it all up because he made that crappy Clone Wars movie. And Ron Howard didn’t f*** up Han Solo for me just because Solo: A Star Wars movie now exists. You fellas ought to realize that these are just pieces of a legacy that can easily be over-minded by better properties or future possibilities. They are dents more than anything. Somewhat ugly, but excusable, mistakes. Stop the fandom! Kill it, if you have to! 

However, I think the hardcore, 5/5 lovers of this pretty mediocre blockbuster spectacle that are claiming haters just wanna hate because it “subverted their expectations” are just giving this movie the special treatment because it’s Star Wars property, and ever since Return of the Jedi, this franchise has been reproducing basically the same exact hero’s journey tale-tale—excluding Revenge. This applies especially towards people who were never big fans of Star Wars because it makes them believe that The Last Jedi is some special snowflake that jinxed the formula and made the series some highbrow saga like Lord of the Rings. No, señor. I mean, imagine the amount of ego some people must have to think that The Last Jedi is inherently “flawless” or a piece that only cinematic intellectuals can understand—no disrespect. Rian Johnson’s film simply reorganized the classic recipe and disguised it as something “different.” Well, it’s frankly not? Space battles, lightsaber fights, funny sidekicks, and cheap references, oh my. Space battles, lightsaber fights, funny sidekicks…

All in all, The Last Jedi in ways, is spectacular and terrible (HAHA). If there’s anything we can take away from this, it’s that sometimes dividing a fanbase with insanity can make for quite the radical experience outside of the movie itself. Good on you, Rian Johnson? Thanks for listening to my Star Wars TED Talk. We’ll talk more on December 19th. See you then. 

Verdict: C+ 

Star Wars Ranked

“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” is now available to stream on Netflix.

 

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) REVISITED

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD

7th Viewing

Part VII of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

I have an interesting relationship with The Force Awakens—like probably most fans of Star Wars have. The first time I saw this seventh episode in the Skywalker saga, I believed to have loved it. In fact, I thought I had loved it so much that I saw it four times in the theaters—more times than I’ve seen any other movie in the galaxy in theaters for that matter. The hype was unbelievable at the time for its anticipated release—if you were there, you would know—and sweetly enough, this also happened to be the first live-action Star Wars movie I ever saw in theaters. 

But then came the fifth viewing. And, after that fifth viewing, I began noticing TONS of flaws. I genuinely was so perplexed that the movie that I had once defended for some time wasn’t really all that exquisite. And then a sixth viewing came along, and at that point, I was kind of sick and tired of the movie. I’m not someone who rewatches movies very often, and due to this fact of life, the viewing had left me quite somber to know that this movie I had beaten to death with my eyes was no longer fun to watch. Fast-forward two years later (AKA, December 12th of 2019) I decided to watch the seventh live-action Star Wars movie for the seventh time leading up to my review of The Rise of Skywalker

So, what do I think of The Force Awakens now after four years of varying rewatches? 

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is fine. I personally am not the biggest fan of J.J. Abrams when it comes to his writing, but when he’s behind the camera directing, he proves to be a controlling expert at the craft. To me, J.J. Abrams’s reinvigoration is a supreme example of a blockbuster with fantastic execution but a weak story. 

Pros:

• This is easily the best looking Star Wars movie next to A New Hope and Empire. Shooting on film certainly helped with this scenario, but the fact that the movie had so much time to be made, giving cinematographers, set designers, and VFX artists extra things to perfect, really shows in this movie. The production is just magnificent, as well. Love the mix of practicality and top-notch CGI. 

• J.J. Abrams directing in The Force Awakens is nearly Steven Spielberg-level good. From the smoothly assembled action sequences, the shot compositions, the clean and inventive camera movements, this is objectively the best directed Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back
The editing in this is PRETTY NEAT too! Effective, indeed! 

• FINN. Such a refreshing character! I have my gripes for Rey and Poe Dameron, but Finn I personally think steals the show in The Force Awakens. Just from the early on shot where we see his friend die in front of him and wipe blood on his helmet, you know that we’re going to receive a character with a more challenging background than usual. I also admire how dorky he is but also how rebellious he is. Yes, Boyega! 

• The many amazing sequences: Kylo Ren catching the blaster beam mid-air. Kylo intimidating Poe. Han’s return being a Rathtar smuggler which is so him and just flat out badass. Rey’s trippy-ass “vision” sequence when she touches the lightsaber, which was just visually absorbing. Kylo Ren reading Rey’s disturbed mind. Han and Ben Solo’s confrontation. The sharply executed lightsaber battle between Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren (which everybody hates now because Rey beats Kylo, but we’ll get into that later). 

Cons:

• The forced, generic comedy. Some of it is deft like BB-8 giving the thumbs up with a lighter, or when Max refers to Chewbacca as her boyfriend, or just about anything that comes out of Han Solo’s mouth. But a great majority of it you can tell was artificially written on purpose for a one-time theater experience that would get temporary laughs out of audience members. There’s a limited prioritization on replay value for the comedy bits in this film. 

• THE PLOT. This is easily my main quail I have with The Force Awakens—one not big enough to ruin the entire experience for me, surely, but one that obviously keeps this movie from being entirely spectacular. The narrative here is indisputably uninspired. It’s dead set on being mimic of A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. From the Death Star III (Starkiller Base) to R2-D2 II (BB-8) to The Emperor II (Snoke), the properties of the original trilogy are certainly hearkened. Most importantly though, the movie follows similar checkpoints to A New Hope like giving a crucial message to a droid, to going to a Cantina to get help, to blowing up another Death Star as a finale. This is undeniably a soft reboot of A New Hope—but at the very least, it’s a “good” reboot. 

• How dare they waste the two main stars of The Raid!!!!!!!!!

In terms of the “Rey is a Mary Sue” argument, I have mixed feelings on the affair (here comes my rant). In many cases, I do whole-heartedly agree that Rey is a Mary Sue. However, for fans to use her oddly talented character qualities as an excuse to uphold the original trilogy and prequels on some higher-up pedestal from The Force Awakens is paradoxical. If you were to actually unbiasedly examine all the Star Wars movies, you’d notice something very interesting: Every single main hero we meet starts off as a Gary Stu/Mary Sue.

I find it absurd that we could forget how much of a Gary Stu Luke Skywalker was in A New Hope. It’s as if we totally forgot that this dude was able to take out two tie-fighters without ever using the weaponry on a ship before, use a blaster for the first time and hit a good amount of stormtroopers, be the two out of the dozens of other pilots who didn’t die trying to blow up the Death Star while also seamlessly shooting those ball thingies into the Death Star’s hole (HAHA I’M TWELVE). Let’s not forget that this dude also spent most of his life farming on a desert planet with his uncle and aunt. Groovy. 

To Rey’s defense, we learned in The Force Awakens that she was a resourceful ship scavenger who had to learn to exclusively fend for herself during most of her life (just like how we learn Luke was trying to become an excellent pilot), so was it really that surprising that she understood the inner workings of a ship and could pilot one as well? Early on, we also figure out that she could effectively fight with a staff, so was it really that surprising that she could beat a recently, and might I add, seriously wounded Kylo Ren?—cause those bowcasters cut DEEP. Okay, so Rey learning to use the force through a Jedi mind trick without any training was a bit sketchy, but Luke also using the force to shoot balls into a death hole was semi-sketchy, as well. So there’s that. 

Also, in The Phantom Menace, young Ani takes out the entire fucking Control Ship (AKA, The Death Star -1) carelessly. Like if that doesn’t top any evidence of somebody being a Gary Stu/Mary Sue, then I don’t know what will. And don’t you dare try to tell me he could pilot and work the ship like a champ because he knew how to pod-race. And if it was mostly “autopilot” controlling the ship, remember that “autopilot” only steers the ship; it didn’t shoot the damn canons that would ultimately blow up the entire base. 

So that’s my defense against the whole Rey controversy. Would it be nice for her character to not be a Mary Sue in these movies? Hell freaking yeah! Has this Mary Sue formula been quite present in previous Star Wars movies, though? Yes, indeed. 

Conclusively, The Force Awakens isn’t written exceptionally nor is it anything remotely original, but I can damn well tell you that it was planned out excruciatingly well. With admirable directions, some strong new characters, and enthralling action sequences, The Force Awakens may not be anything special or beyond “good,” but it was a smart maneuver to awaken this franchise securely.

Now, onto The Last Jedi

Star Wars Ranked

Verdict: B- 

“Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) REVISITED

??? Viewing

Part VI of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was my favorite Star Wars movie as a child. If I had to guess, I’ve probably seen the movie maybe approximately 50 times during those early years of glory. But, holy FUDGE, viewing this movie as an adult, I can safely say that this movie has not aged nearly as well as the previous two entries. In fact, I would go as far as to say Return of the Jedi is a bit of a misfire. I know, I know it’s a hot take, but let me explain. 

This film gets way too much credit for how lousy George Lucas’s script is here, but let’s first talk about why Return of the Jedi doesn’t even stand sturdy as a technical piece. The special effects evidently look worse than they did in Star Wars (1977) and Empire despite it having a larger budget—especially the green screen effects; my golly the green screen is bad in this! The editing and directing, unfortunately, are just mediocre to adequate—which is l-a-m-e. But, notably, something I’ve never noticed materially beforehand is that the acting in Return of the Jedi is SIGNIFICANTLY worse in this movie than the two previous films in the saga. The eerily awkward and childish dialogue furthermore, didn’t help the movie’s “performance” problem at all. 

Can we please talk about how utterly stupid Luke’s mission to rescue Han Solo was? So, Luke first decides to send in C-3P0 and R2-D2 to Jabba’s Palace to notify Jabba of an offer to bargain for Solo’s life while also giving up the droids as gifts to Jabba. Knowing this, Luke knows for a fact he’ll need R2-D2 for later to retrieve his lightsaber. After this, he sends Leia in dressed as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca so that she can sneak Han out of the palace. 

This doesn’t work, so Luke comes to the place with absolutely no other plan other than expecting to get captured and sent to the Sarlacc Pit—since he basically just hands himself in. There, he knows somehow they will bring R2-D2 along so he can retrieve his lightsaber when the time is right. Lando is also there disguised as a guard for no other reason than to almost get himself killed. The only possible way this could’ve all worked out perfectly for Luke is if he knew for a damn fact that Jabba would want to feed them to the Sarlac Pit, take R2-D2 and his whole entire bounty/crime crew with him, and every prisoner all at once. Conclusively, Luke knew that it would end in him eventually blowing up Jabba’s Sail Barge with all the criminals it had on board, ultimately destroying the Jabba nonsense for good—and if you don’t believe me, how else would R2-D2 know to jump off the ship before Luke blows it up? 

Also, why does Leia pull the whole detonator trick in the first place? Like, is she low on cash? Did she really want those credits—LOL! What in the hell is the point of risking the mission to show off? Jabba hiding behind the curtains to catch Leia saving Han is additionally really DUMB. And, Boba Fett goes out like a total CHUMP! This opening is an overrated sequence I tell ya! 

The Rancor does look cool though; I will admit that. 

Anyways, my point is the first act of this movie is absolutely ridiculous and so absurdly far-fetched that it’s kind of hard to enjoy it as an adult. It just seems quite lazily thought-out, and that’s not what Star Wars has been about in these past two entries. However, after this ill-conceived part of the movie, Return of the Jedi begins to get back up on its feet—kind of. 

Ian McDiarmid’s incredible interpretation of The Emperor finally comes into play, Yoda has a goofy death scene, and Obi-Wan makes Luke want to barf (SWEET HOME ALABAMA). Even if these new things happening on screen aren’t exactly striking nor flawless, at least the movie is picking up its pace a little bit. 

However, everything else that happens in the second act is kind of…snoozy. Han and Lando are BFFs again…for some reason…and then, Leia, Luke, and a group of Rebels go to Endor to do some boring walk-in-the-woods, Ewok shit. We also get to learn about a second Death Star and how the team plans to blow it up. Yay? And, people complain about The Force Awakens being unoriginal, but you can’t deny it wasn’t the first Star Wars movie to attempt the copy-and-paste formula. There’s a really poorly held up speeder chase sequence that I used to ADORE as a kid, but now, looking back, I’m like, “Man, that scene looked phonier than a three dollar bill.” C-3P0 becomes Ewok Jesus. Luke gawkily breaks it to Leia that he’s her bro-towski. So yeah, all in all, the second act is pretty mediocre? Whaaaaaaaaat? 

The third act of Return of the Jedi is when shit gets good. Every Luke and Darth Vader sequence is insightful, interesting, and consequential. The moments with The Emperor and the lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Luke are magnificent. All though, Vader’s intense change of heart is iffy to me—it doesn’t feel completely earned or developed. The Endor battle is, no-cap, ridiculously goofy, but admittedly fun. Also, the space battles are well-made for its time and justly mind-numbing. 

But fellas, I think I prefer Revenge of the Sith over Return of the Jedi. I know, I didn’t anticipate that this day would ever come, but here we are; it’s happening. It kills me to the say this, but I can’t even give Return of the Jedi a fresh grade. Yes, the third act is solid, but I simply can’t forgive it for having two very poorly written and executed beginning acts. It just wouldn’t be fair. I have to take all factors into account. There’s just so many story elements that are completely glossed over or rushed in Return of the Jedi, ultimately making it appear like some subpar, minimum effort attempt to conclude the saga. With that being said (please don’t kill me)… 

Verdict: C+

Star Wars Ranked

“Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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Star Wars (1977) REVISITED

??? Viewing

Part IV of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

Finally. Now, onto the great stuff. 

Believe it or not, there was a time when Star Wars movies could be wildly inventive, vibrant in the characters it created, and humble in its pacing. In 1977, Lucas had invented Star Wars: a movie made out of his sheer, heating passion for filmmaking, the unknown, and the quintessential hero’s journey tale. 

It’s absurd seeing how well the visuals and spectacular scope of the movie have held up. This is an essential example of a project that proves that practical effects will always stand the test of time when compared to computer-generated imagery. The painting-esc landscape shots, handmade set and vehicle models; these elements make Star Wars and Empire look perceptibly richer than any of the other entries in the saga. This is one of those motion pictures along with Empire, again, in which almost every shot could be framed as a beautiful portrait. Aaa, back in the days when many blockbuster filmmakers cared about making the entirety of a movie look memorable. 

John Williams score has had plenty of input by critics and fans alike already—it’s evidently an influential and imposing masterpiece of music. Lucas’s directing in this is surprisingly sharp and inventive. The editing is smooth and elegant and even the audiowork is pretty solid for its time. The costumes and props are cheesy perfection. Star Wars is truly a technical gem that reinforced the fantasy genre ingeniously. 

It’s always such a pleasure to watch this simple yet large-scaled space flick. Somehow, it never gets old, and even though on subsequent viewings, I do notice more and more flaws and gripes with the 42-year-old film, it’s still one of the greatest and easily one of the most important fantasy adventure films ever crafted. There’s just no way that the next entry could possibly be any better…

Verdict: A-

Star Wars Ranked

“Star Wars” is now available to stream on Disney+. 

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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) REVISITED

??? Viewing 

Part III of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

Wow, CGI drastically improved in the course of only three years. Thank! 

Just from observing the opening scene of Revenge of the Sith, it was clear that Lucasfilm studios and George Lucas’s devoted counterparts wanted to make a film that didn’t completely abandon the prequels contrasting vibes to the original saga, but that, at the very least, would primarily be a more mature and productive take for the Skywalker legacy. Hallelujah. 

So it would appear that the writing in Revenge of the Sith is regrettably iffy, the romantic dialogue is still horrid, most of the acting is questionable, the green screen effects remain to look blatantly obvious, the choreography is sometimes hilariously birdbrained, and Anakin’s progression into joining the dark side seems unearned and ludicrous. Now, with that being said, everything else about Revenge of the Sith is pretty solid—especially for an ORIGINAL Star Wars movie. The main factor that wins over my respect for this third prequel entry is the fact that its story is unparallel to anything of the original saga or its two previous predecessors. It stands so well on its own rights and legitimately adds something worthwhile to this elongated franchise.

The sequence where Anakin surgically becomes Darth Vader (minus the “NOOOO”) and Padme gives birth to Luke and Leia features some of, if not, the best editing in all of Star Wars history. It’s chilling. Order 66 will also go down as an absolutely iconic and quintessential moment in the Star Wars saga. Plus, good memes came out of that “high ground” battle. 

Revenge of the Sith I’d securely classify as one of those movies that had the potential to be something greater than expected, something spectacular. Be that may be the case, at least it’s “good.” And heavens knows I’d take “good” over The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones any-day.

Verdict: B-

Star Wars Ranked

“Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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All Movie Reviews Full-Fledged Film Reviews Star Wars Reviews

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) REVISITED

??? Viewing

Part II of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

Three years after the tragic catastrophe that was Episode I of the Skywalker saga, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clone came into play. The results? The prequel sequel manages to be just as excruciating as The Phantom Menace. Lucasfilm earned the paycheck of a lifetime due to Phantom, but had received some of the cruelest of critical responses; many fans had converted into non-carers for what was to come next, and the movie ultimately delivered no eye-catching promises in its mediocre trailer, yet, it still managed to be crappier than expected. Impressive, right? Not only does George Lucas’s second “F you” of a movie want to look like your 2000s PS2 video game so badly, but it also wants to be one of cinema’s most farcical romances of all-time. Jolly good.

The story at hand here undoubtedly has more potential than Episode I ever did. You can totally see what George Lucas wanted to accomplish with this narrative, but as one could obviously notice, it ensued in dreadful affairs. The benchmarks for a good origin story are certainly here; the execution of them, with no help from the infamously abysmal screenplay, however, are orchestrated foolishly.

The dialogue this time around is simply the WORST (minus the “death sticks” line), the green screen is sidesplittingly embarrassing, the acting is below amateur, the action sequences are beyond preposterous, the romance between Padme and Skywalker has statistically raised depression rates in Star Wars fans by 99.9%, and Hayden Christensen’s Anakin easily takes the cake for being the bitchiest bitch boy in all of Lucas’s everlasting galaxy. “Annoying” just took on a whole new definition thanks to this splendid movie. 

I will give this movie the benefit of the doubt though. Attack of the Clones is slightly more bearable than The Phantom Menace purely because the cartoonish tone of this prequel saga seems to have withered down increasingly. Plus, there’s less Jar Jar Binks; so there’s that. 

But, why does this movie low-key look visually like Dreamwork’s Robots? Especially that diner scene. LOL. 

Verdict: D- 

Star Wars Ranked

“Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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All Movie Reviews Full-Fledged Film Reviews Star Wars Reviews

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) REVISITED

??? Viewing

Part I of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

Aaa, yes. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Hated by many, moderate to most, and loved by some. It’s the movie that continued this saga’s impressive downward spiral by turning out to be one of the grandest disasters in blockbuster history. I must admit, as a kid, I ravished this prequel. I really did—and I’m sure most who grew up with it did as well. But with the gain of around two decades, opinions began to change, thus creating my current stance on George Lucas’s The Phantom Menace: It’s not particularly…good. In fact, it’s borderline s***. 

There are some things I can fathom about The Phantom Menace: parts of the pod-racing sequence, the locations, (some of) the character designs, the EPIC lightsaber battle, and DUEL OF FATES (TAKE THAT NEW DISNEY STAR WARS TRILOGY SCORE). But… that’s about it. Yeah? Yeah. 

Story-wise, this movie has little going for it, and this further confirms why I firmly believe this prequel tale revolving around Anakin Skywalker could’ve been appropriately wrapped up into one movie (AKA, basically just Revenge of the Sith). Everything that happens in this movie is just plain…vanilla—especially when you compare it to the eccentrically colorful narratives of the original trilogy. Furthermore, as many have said, the acting is quite poor, the writing is unbearable, the humor is pathetic, the cartoonish tone is absolutely DISGRACEFUL, the special effects have held up worse than grocery milk, the cinematography is of the equivalent to a moldy potato, and the movie is just too damn lengthy. 

But hey, there’s no way the next Star Wars movie could possibly be any duller…

Verdict: D-

Star Wars Ranked 

“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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All Movie Reviews Full-Fledged Film Reviews Horror Franchise Film Reviews

It Chapter One (2017): Taking a Glimpse at Andy Muschietti’s Popular Horror Phenomena Two Years Later

2nd Viewing

Well, this didn’t age too well. But it aged well enough! Psyche!

I recall l-o-v-i-n-g, yes, l-o-v-i-n-g this Stephen King reboot back in 2017 when I first witnessed…it…opening night at a packed theater with middle school kids trying to bribe theater employees into letting them see the movie despite it being Rated-r. Damn, that’s ironic.

Anywho, I haven’t rewatched Andy Muschietti’s It since…its…initial release date which might be saying something about how well it’s stuck with me overtime. I’m about 99.9% convinced that the sole reason I claimed it to be a triumph at the time was because of hype, nostalgia, and fandom. Shame on me, I know.

The kids in this evocative feature-length are fucking hilarious. And as a bonus, they all got cogent enough backstories for me to care about all of them. Even if some of these pals become besties in a matter of minutes, the comradery and endearment between the members of the Losers’ Club are undeniably soul-stirring. Thanks, Chase Palmer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman for carting the best asset of King’s book with excellence. The dramatic elements of It, indeed, operate tolerably well.

As a horror film though, It is iffy. There are some genuinely scary qualities like the “Woman in the Painting,” all those gosh-darn pedophiles, and Finn Wolfhard’s eyes combined with those glasses—yikes! Some horror trademarks, however, are pitiful. I hate how the structure of this movie’s creature-feature showcase is motored on such a repetitive basis. The movie attempts to cover every frightening moment in the first (timeline-wise) half of the 1,100-page novel, making the film almost feel like some sort of chore-full checklist. The “jump-scare,” “trailer-esc,” and routinely shabby “CGI” techniques are also all marvelous ways to piss me off!

Like Tim Curry’s alarming and unnerving performance as Pennywise the Clown in the original 1990 It, Bill Skarsgård’s performance provides the film some merit that’s above the ordinary. Everything in It has certainly already been implemented before in the world of cinema and especially horror cinema, but the character of Pennywise the Clown, specifically, is a horror element or icon that can be paralleled to something like DC’s “The Joker.” The many interpretations of the character are always transformed into establishments that are opposed to any other proverbial villain characters out there in our world of literature and storytelling. Skarsgård is openly astounding for the few minutes he emerges in the movie.

Altogether, It still functions moderately as a coming-of-age drama but seeks more to be desired when it comes to…its…weak horror efforts. That being said…it…is one of the better reboots I’ve ever seen especially in recent years and…it…does come firmly recommended for those who are fans of Stephen King’s controversial yet evolutionary source material.

Verdict Change: B —> B-

“It” is now available to rent and buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play.

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All Movie Reviews Director Binging Film Reviews Full-Fledged Film Reviews

Double-Feature Review: Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 (2003-2004)

Review of Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

2nd Viewing

Tarantino Marathon Part IV of IX

Screened at Irvine Spectrum’s RPX Theater w/@RaymondSkinner 

Style! Style! More style! Even more style! More! More! More!

If that intro didn’t convince you already, I personally find Quentin Tarantino’s iconic, action-brimmed sensation Kill Bill Volume 1 to be his most stylistic film yet and, in all probability, his most stylistic film ever. Names are censored with cheesy “bleep” noises, live-action videos awkwardly become stills, Japanese narration will spontaneously appear out of nowhere, the color pallet is suddenly replaced with a classical black-and-white aesthetic, etc., etc., etc., the soundtrack darts through more musical hits than Suicide squad—except this time around, it legitimately enhances the experience—etc.,etc.,etc. I mean, the movie, a third way through, with no ifs and buts, modifies into an anime flashback sequence for one of our lovely antagonists. The consistency of a methodology is unmerited in the eyes of a 40-year-old Tarantino.

See, if more action blockbusters today could suggest more ostentatious techniques like Kill Bill, I would be ever so cheery. If you’re going to make a film with a simple, straight-going, mainstream plot, at least add some tasteful flair to it so that it can stand out like a sore thumb, am I right?

Let’s just get this out of the way because you simply can’t disregard such a distinguishable portion of Kill Bill Volume 1. The finale is one of the most impressive action spectacles ever put to screen. All of Tarantino’s shiniest knacks and superpowers rupture through this blood-thirsty accomplishment. If I could grade this movie solely on the finale, I’d give it an A+, without a doubt. It sucks you into its presentation like no other combat sequence out there.

Superficial in its randomized plot yet meticulous in its execution, Kill Bill Volume 1 is not only a grand homage to classic Asian action flicks, but also a riveting, cutthroat spirit of its own.

Verdict Change: A —> A-

This Movie is a Part of My List: Ranking Quentin Tarantino’s Films From Best to Worst

“Kill Bill Vol. 1” is now available to rent and buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Google Play.

killbill2.jpg

Review of Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)

2nd Viewing

Tarantino Marathon Part V of X

Screened at Irvine Spectrum’s RPX Theater w/@RaymondSkinner

For those who were blessed enough to see back in 2003 and 2004 in theaters not only Kill Bill Volume 1 but also it’s quick-to-follow companion piece Kill Bill Volume 2 (AKA The Bride’s Conclusion), I would’ve begged to be in your shoes. At the time, I wasn’t even nearly old enough to watch an R-rated movie, heck, even that of a PG-13 feature-length. But now, sitting here, watching these two Grindhouse menaces back-to-back in the consolation of Regal’s “premium” IMAX theater, I now know exactly how it must’ve felt to had witnessed such an iconic festival come to life on the big screen.

Volume 2 opens with a hearty, broadened conversation between both The Bride and Bill—a fresh, new mood-setter for the slower and grimmer pace at hand. What follows is the actual visual depiction of the tragic incident which had been the origin of the Bride’s delirious yet justified rampage for vengeance. It became crystal clear, at that instant, that this sequel was preparing to advance down a much more serious, sentimental, and undoubtedly personal piece of the fable than its style-heavy predecessor.

Bill’s critical role in Volume 2 unquestionably steals the whole entire shebang. The heavy-handed dialogue he’s given and the harmonization we get to observe between him and The Bride are gracefully added zeniths for the film’s transfixing story. They, with no punches pulled, make the second part stand on its own rather than feel like a downright interchangeable sequel.

Having said that, Volume 1 had more awareness. It knew exactly what it was and went full-steam-ahead with its glorified inanities, and casted away it’s violent temptations without spilling a single dull moment in its just below two-hour runtime’s pacing. Volume 2 however—while still bewildering, nonetheless—suffers from a fazing sense of distrust and haphazardness. Its pacing is a bit impulsive and its arrangement is a little sporadic. But like I mentioned before, the mere flaws only put slight dents into Volume 2’s existence collectively.

With that in mind though, my sole ***major*** complaint with the epic as a whole, therefore, is that I personally felt that a lot more consequential footage could’ve been incorporated into Volume 1 and a lot of footage could’ve been removed out of Volume 2 to make it a brisker feature. In other words, I wish there was some more intimacy transferred into Volume 1 and that the emotional weight in Volume 2 wasn’t executed as such an overload of information.

All in all, though, Kill Bill Volume 2 kicks ass just like Volume 1. Maybe not as much…ass (could’ve worded that better, I know)…as Volume 1, but assuredly enough to consider it an over and above satisfying conclusion to the Bride’s iconic revenge voyage. As Bill himself had put it, “It was priceless.”

Verdict Change: B —> B+

This Movie is a Part of My List: Ranking Quentin Tarantino’s Films From Best to Worst

“Kill Bill Vol. 2” is now available to rent and buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Showtime.