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Quick-Thoughts: Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order (2019)

Here’s the issue when you have a film critic reviewing a video game: I’ll, more than likely, review the game as if it were a movie or a TV show. If you’re looking for an opinion from someone who’s familiar and critical of the actual gameplay/technical aspects of video games, you probably shouldn’t consider my review too much. However, if you are someone who cares about the journey/narrative that a video game takes you on, then I’m your guy! 

  • First off, I loved the gameplay in Jedi: Fallen Order—and maybe it’s because I don’t get the opportunity to play a lot of console games often, but who knows? The combat features and range of Jedi powers offer the player a delectable amount of range when it comes to fending off enemies and what-have-you—AND THEY’RE A LOT MORE APPROPRIATE THAN THE COMBAT ASSETS ON EA’S BATTLEFRONT SERIES. Wielding a lightsaber while witnessing yourself become this Jedi master is truly a Star Wars fan’s dream come true, and I ate up nearly every second of it. 
  • The premise of Jedi: Fallen Order is pretty engaging! The characters are great—notably Cal and Cere. I appreciated the concept of rogue, young Jedi survivors, the introspection of a Force Trainor pressed on the brink of insanity, and the whole idea of the Empire’s sister clan. The world design is marvelous. The archetypal obstacles and ethereal creatures you run into are arresting and truly exemplify the spirit of Star Wars lore-building. 
  • To be honest, Jedi: Fallen Order’s plot was, at the most, decent—so it’s basically on par with most Star Wars properties. The ambitions and undercurrents of our chief characters aren’t necessarily divergent or refreshing, bearing in mind that they follow similar trails to what we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe already. Also, “fan service”—keep it at a minimum next time.

But yeah, this and The Mandalorian are starting to give me a “new hope” for the future of Star Wars! Get it? Yeah, I’ll shutup now. 

Verdict: B

“Jedi: Fallen Order” is now available to purchase for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. 

 

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Star Wars Reviews TV Show Reviews

The Mandalorian is Groundbreaking Proof That the World of Star Wars Can Expand Justly

WARNING: Very Minor Spoilers for Season 1 of The Mandalorian Ahead 

In a galaxy of possibilities far, but not too far away, Disney’s ability to successfully innovate Star Wars contraptions through unconventional means instead of the archetypal structure of the franchise, lies real! The Mandalorian is proof that the smaller the scale, the smaller the budget, and the more fleshed-out or personal the story, the grander the quality and the closer we get to differentiating Star Wars—rather than letting itself repeat. The Mandalorian plays out like the coolest fan-made Star Wars property yet, but in its defense, the homemade craft is what makes the experience much crisper than anything Disney has made in of the franchise previously. 

In Jon Favreau’s TV show about a lone gunfighter who runs into an unexpected task, we get to progressively learn and attach ourselves to a moderate handful of our lead characters—something that is a rare entity to find in this overrated climate of sci-fi pop culture. The Mandalorian wisely decides to market its influences off of classic Spaghetti Westerns, unlike Disney and Prequel Star Wars movies which are ironically influenced almost entirely by the original Star Wars trilogy—which were movies based off of many different pop culture roots. 

The comedy in The Mandalorian doesn’t appear cringy nor forced. Ludwig Göransson’s score is holy original and dissimilar to any musical properties held previously in the Star Wars universe. The visuals are superior and evidently more creatively implemented when compared to any other Star Wars property besides maybe Empire and A New Hope. The writing isn’t mind-boggling; everything is fairly formulaic. Yet, the simplicity of The Mandalorian isn’t something to completely fault it for. It’s nice to see a Star Wars property that doesn’t over-complicate itself and try to make itself seem like this epic extravaganza. It’s prioritization on focusing on fewer characters and intimate interests are what makes the show thrive more memorably than anything in of this overcooked fantasy saga. Our characters have clear creeds, aspirations, motives, and backstories. They aren’t vaguely examined or desperately looked over; they’re appropriately employed and easy to grasp. 

There’s a savagery to the action sequences in The Mandalorian that feels energetically fresh. The action in this show never involves something like hundreds of CGI tie fighters fighting hundreds of CGI x-wings; it’s primarily hand-to-hand, combat orientated—and of the brutalist that TV-14 can possibly deliver. People are one-by-one getting burned alive, smashed with sledgehammers, and combusted alive; you get to actually focus on a physical conflict one at a time instead of watching 100 things happen all at once like in most of Disney’s recent cinematic affairs—yay! 

The settings or production designs harken to both original Star Wars mock-ups but also from Clint Eastwood and even Akira Kurosawa feature-lengths. The creatures are wide-ranging and practically put together. From dangerous monsters with reptilian builds, to prehistoric dinosaur assets, to goofy Jawas who love to eat larger than life eggs, and even to a mysteriously complex Baby Yoda—a sufficient example of how to implement cuteness without mainly feeling like a marketing ploy. The lore and society that connects to forced servitude and the battle for freedom adds a lot to the show’s merit. Scenes like when we listen in on two speeder troopers casually converse like normal human beings and attempt to miserably fail at shooting a target are refreshing as hell. Like, these are actual quote on quote “scenes” that take their time and allow the viewers to become immersed in the atmosphere of what is being presented, unlike a lot of turbo-paced action shows that we see nowadays. Remember when you could just breathe, watch characters interact for more than 15 seconds, and get to bond with beings from all across the galaxy like in George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy? Well, it’s back! 

In spite of this though, The Mandalorian didn’t start off as this appropriately paced delicacy. The series is a little glossy on storytelling at the beginning of the season—and what I mean by that is that it initiated itself as this show that always seemed like it was in a hurry. I understand that this program is supposed to appeal to kids and you need the faster pace but, c’mon. Take your time with the presentation; keep it mature. Let the audience have time to sink into the events, get to know the surrounding characters a little better, and just become absorbed practically. Nonetheless, Chapters 1, 2, and 3 are immersive starter teasers into what the show seems to be all about—and very engrossing ones at that. Plus, the pace does, as I said before, begin to come around as something more admirable in its second half. 

Chapter 4 is an unfortunate misfire; not only is it unnecessary as well as shabbily and predictably written, but the new characters are inserted so randomly in such a hasty manner. The whole ordeal surrounding this particular episode feels like some video game side quest that was put into the mix so that the producers could complete their 8-episode-long runtime. Chapter 5 is a weakly written filler as well. Plus, while it does seem less spontaneous or less absurd as Chapter 4 did, it doesn’t have the character development of Mando which Chapter 4 at the very least featured. So that’s something to take into consideration. 

Chapter 6, however, luckily picked my and most likely most viewers’ attention up real quick. In an arguably endlessly fun episode, we witness a very amusing prison break that has buoyant new side characters including a Bill Burr who packs more jokes in this than even in some of his comedy specials. Chapter 7 and 8 is when the show starts to make a full, imposing circle, fortunately. Where my main worry that originated from episodes 4 and 5 (being that the show wouldn’t follow a particular storyline and would just be a series of random episodes) chapters 7 and 8 seem to put those concerns at ease. The show engages an epic amount of stakes and tension in these finale pieces—where you begin to feel as if nobody is safe. There are some unexpected twists and turns and a fair share of solid execution. Plus, Gus from Breaking Bad is in these episodes. C’mon. Us fans are spoiled. 

Ultimately, The Mandalorian doesn’t necessarily break cinematic ground—it is heavy on its banal story influences—but it damn well breaks Star Wars ground, and frankly, it doesn’t need to break anymore than just that for now. This was a very intelligent move on Disney’s part, and all though, it isn’t anything too complex or outstanding, it is great; more importantly, however, it is investing. Believe me, I’m intrigued to see Season 2 this Fall. 

The Mandalorian Math:

Chapter 1 = B 

Chapter 2 = B

Chapter 3 = B

Chapter 4 = C

Chapter 5 = C

Chapter 6 = B 

Chapter 7 = B+

Chapter 8 = B+

Final Verdict: B

“The Mandalorian” is now available to stream on Disney+. 

 

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A List of Some “Simplified” Spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker

SPOILER ALERT FOR STAR WARS EPISODE IX: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

I’ve seen the movie twice now. I have many spoilers to discuss. 

  • C-3P0’s inclusion is the best part of The Rise of Skywalker. “Search your feelings. You know it to be true.” It’s nice to see that the iconic droid has finally received a solid role in this trilogy. 
  • Babu Frik’s inclusion is the second-best part of The Rise of Skywalker. That’s just facts. He’ll have a spin-off soon; give it a couple more decades. 
  • Did anyone else notice how s****y the editing was in the opening scene where Kylo slaughters all those civilians attacking him to get that triangular map thingy? It seemed so off to me, like, it almost felt as if the scene was edited for a music video? That might just be me, though.
  • Rey turns into Harry Potter—basically. Snake-lovers, am I right? 
  • I hate how Rey is basically a god in this movie. I somewhat defended her character in The Force Awakens for being a “Mary Sue,” and now, it’s hit a point where I can no longer defend the character. The part where she just uses the force to try to pull down a whole tank-sized ship was flat-out ridiculous. However, Kylo is also overpowered as hell in this movie. Since when were Jedi and Sith so physically powerful? I feel like these convenient, god-like abilities sort of kill the spirit of becoming a great fighter and using the force “wisely.” Yoda’s got to be pissed.
  • Zorii Bliss is a horrible character. She has a small role, yes, but her going from wanting to blow the brains out of Poe Dameron to giving him the only item that can get her off the planet and towards freedom minutes after was a true sign of J.J. Abrams’s weak spots in character writing. Dumb. 
  • General Hux is an annoying, little, whiny brat and I’m glad his ass got blasted. He shouldn’t have been in this movie in the first place, nonetheless.
  • Love how this movie just tells us stuff, and then just expects us to go with it. Like, I think this movie verbally communicates to us more information about what’s occurring in the plot than what is actually visually being shown to us. You could’ve had ghost Luke Skywalker sit on a bench reading the script to us for two and a half hours and we probably wouldn’t have missed a damn thing story-wise if we hadn’t watched The Rise of Skywalker
  • Rey being a Palpatine is a draining concept. I’m sick and tired of this trend in Star Wars were every huge force-sensitive character has to be related to some other famous Jedi/Sith. Luke is related to Darth Vader, who was a Sith, but Luke ended up being good. Rey is related to Palpatine, who was a Sith, but Rey ended up being good. Honestly, Rian Johnson’s idea of Rey just having parents who sold her off for gambling money is a lot darker than her just being related to some old Sith Lord. These are just facts. 
  • The lightsaber fights between Kylo and Rey are moderately entertaining; I can’t lie. Decent choreography! 
  • Ben and Leia’s little moment was iffy. I like how they sort of disappear together at the end of the movie, but Leia’s communication to Ben being the reason why she dies was whole-heartedly a weak move in the writing department. 
  • CGI young Luke and CGI young Leia. Need I say more? 
  • Chewbacca was great in the movie—as always. The part where he breaks down emotionally after hearing about Leia’s death was the only genuine moment in this entire film where I felt something. Poor wookiee had to witness all his old friends die. Damn you, Disney. 
  • I despise all the fan service and pathetic nostalgia that is cheaply used as a tool in this movie. Examples: Saving Chewy in a “bad-guy” ship like how Luke saved Princess Leia on the Death Star, all those shots of the destroyed Death Star II, Luke raising his X-wing out of the water like how Yoda raised his X-wing out of the swamp in Empire Strikes Back, etc. NOSTALGIA = BAD. 
  • As you may know, I am not a huge fan of Return of the Jedi, however, the fact that The Rise of Skywalker shamefully reckons every crucial occurrence that happened in that movie was flat-out rude. Darth Vader’s sacrifice means nothing now since The Emperor is just suddenly alive. Secondly, making the last hour of The Rise of Skywalker a soft remake of Return of the Jedi’s finale but with the unmerited, fan-fiction-like Romeo and Juliet crap really weighed this film down for me.   
  • Narratively, I’d say that The Rise of Skywalker is on par with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, but it’s slightly better than those two movies pretty much by default. The Rise of Skywalker is a gorgeous looking movie (at times) so I’d prefer watching it over the first two prequels. That being said…at least those prequels had some original ideas, plus a plan. 
  • The big, grand climax/finale of this movie is unquestionably the STUPIDEST event that has ever occurred in the history of Star Wars. From cheesy call-to-help plotlines and conveniences, painful similarities to Return of the Jedi, an army of miniature Death Stars, anything involving the OP Emperor, the love thingy between Ben and Rey, and horses on a ship, it’s all beyond DUMB. It’s kind of hilarious to witness though. I had some good laughs. 
  • Palpatine shooting his electric beams up into the fleet and individually picking and pulling every Rebel fighter ship down with it is “WTF” mode x1,000,000. 
  • Kylo Ren turning good was “eh.” Just like when Darth Vader turned good in Return of the Jedi, the transformation didn’t feel entirely earned—it felt rushed. Still, at least Kylo has a fairly acceptable arc in this trilogy. R.I.P. Finn’s arc, though.
  • Prayers go out to Rey for getting blue balled harder than anyone in the entire galaxy. Now, that was tough.
  • Can someone also please explain to me why this is the ultimate Star Wars movie with “fake deaths” in it? This movie makes you think that Chewbacca, C-3P0, Kylo Ren (more than once, might I add), and Rey die in the movie for just no reason but minimum shock value. Kylo Ren does actually die though by the end of the whole affair, and at that point, the death just felt wearisome. Cheap writing, indeed. 
  • WHY DO THESE MOVIES KEEP HAVING TO END WITH A SHOT OF THE TWO SUNS? STOP IT. NO MORE NOSTALGIA. 
  • Man, 2019 franchises haven’t been sticking the landing, huh? First Game of Thrones, now this? What’s up??? 

I think the saddest part about this entire Rise of Skywalker experience is that it’s almost made me “tired” of Star Wars. Like, I just feel completely worn out from all these Disney sequel movies. We’re just getting, basically, the same recycled narrative, lore assets, and character arcs over and over again, and it’s kind of sucked the life and soul out of Star Wars movies. This whole franchise was my childhood, yes, and I will always love a good chunk of it, sure, but it’s just not fun anymore for me. Maybe it’s just cause I’m growing older, but again, I’d like to think it’s because of these studios pointlessly over-killing a once rightfully praised property. I think all of us fans, audiences, and critics could use a long, tranquil break.

Oh, but f***, I’ve got to review The Mandalorian in another week… 

Verdict: D+

Star Wars Ranked, 2019 Ranked

“Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” is now playing in theaters.

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is a Franchise-Killing Disaster

This review is spoiler-free. Don’t worry, you’re safe! 

“Story Overload” is a dangerous disease. TV Shows can suffer from it. Books can suffer from it. Movies can suffer it. But more commonly, unplanned trilogies can suffer from it. “Story Overload” is the contagious concept of a movie having to many plot points, schemes, and objectives jam-packed into a limited amount of time. There is a masterpiece hidden in the lethargic cluster of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, woefully annihilated at the hands of this rotten illness.  

Here are some of the drawbacks that a narratively overbooked final entry like The Rise of Skywalker can often exemplify: chaotic editing, misplaced fan service, a lack of explanations, illogical plot holes, a reliance on story conveniences, the following of familiar ground, nostalgia porn, etc. There is mere to nothing that works in The Rise of Skywalker, truly. The “Story Overload” infection has fabricated one of the biggest catastrophes in the history of cinematic blockbusters—an entity that feels more like a collage of unavoidable ideas than a narrative yearning to advance as a wonder of its own. This is not movie-making; this is a soulless task to check off the many things fans wanted answered, redirect its wings away from its daring predecessor, and stressfully end a franchise. It’s strategic merchandising, not movie art. 

Disney’s trilogy had a sturdy start, a spark of potential, and was quickly ruined when the studio decided to not plan the whole affair out before laying a finger on the camera. Maybe if they had handed Abrams the entire trilogy, allowed Rian Johnson to craft his own series, and planned out the whole narrative before even thinking about production, the ninth and final part of the Skywalker saga would’ve been extraordinary. Instead, the darkest entry in the trilogy manages to also be the most exhausting. Hopefully, this adversarial failure can be a “wakeup call” for fans to take a break, look away, and let the legends rest for a little while before returning once again for fourth rounds of George Lucas’s imaginative yet fatigued galaxy. 

Verdict: D+ 

CLICK HERE TO READ MY SPOILER REVIEW AT BURNING THE CELLULOID

Star Wars Ranked, 2019 Ranked 

“Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” will be released in theaters on December 20, 2019.

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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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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) REVISITED—for Three Short Paragraphs…

3rd Viewing

I have barely anything to say about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Fans will fall head over heels for it because it’s two straight hours of unashamed fan service. Critics will think it’s alright because at least Gareth Edwards knows how to make a pretty-looking action flick. I, myself, think it’s “whatever,” because at least it’s not Solo: A Suck the Soul Out of the Best Character in Star Wars Story.  

But yeah, Gareth Edwards is adroit at creating scale and battle sequences. Tony Gilroy and Chris Weitz, however, are not the best at devising a solid plot structure, sensible character arcs, or just about anything that a script needs to be investing. Tis a shame. 

Bless, the divine profit that is K2-S0, nonetheless. 

Verdict: C+

Star Wars Ranked

“Rogue One” is now available to stream on Disney+. 

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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 (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+.