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REVIEW – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

December 24, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Ram Bergman
Written by: Rian Johnson
Edited by: Bob Ducsay
Cinematography by: Steve Yedlin
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Lupita Nyong’o
Year: 2017

 

One of the first questions I received regarding my opinion of the latest Star Wars film (after having announced to everyone on my Facebook that I had completed my first two viewings, of course) was whether or not The Last Jedi, the eighth episode of the currently main Skywalker saga of films, was made for casual fans or die-hard fans. I had to think about it a bit, not because I didn’t know the direct answer to that, but because I had to think about the context of the attitudes I’d been witnessing about the movie. It seems as though there’s a very vocal number of fans out there who… well, they didn’t really seem to like The Last Jedi, and they were making sure everyone knew it in the loudest, most entitled, and sometimes even most obnoxious possible way. Could that have been the demographic my friend was implying when he used the term “die-hard?” I never really got a follow-up to my response (I’m still waiting!), but the fact that I had to consider it at all just made me realize something: I’m kinda tired of so called “die-hard fans” in general. Also, I still think that, after two viewings and nearly non-stop hours of reading about the film and views on it, The Last Jedi is also a pretty great flick, too!

Read more…

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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

December 21, 2015 5 comments
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force AwakensDirected by: J.J. Abrams
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Edited by: Mary Jo Markey, Maryann Brandon
Cinematography by: Dan Mindel
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow
Based on characters created by George Lucas
Year: 2015

 

Good Lord, it’s finally here!! Read more…

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

June 19, 2014 1 comment
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the SithDirected by: George Lucas
Produced by: Rick McCallum
Written by: George Lucas
Edited by: Roger Barton, Ben Burtt
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Frank Oz, Samuel L. Jackson, Mathew Wood, Jimmy Smits, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Silas Carson, Temuera Morrison, Christopher Lee, Peter Mayhew
Year: 2005

 

My wait in line for this movie, released during the final days of my senior year of high school, will probably remain the longest amount of time and the largest amount of people I will ever experience. The theatre had to move the line outside and let it flow into the parking lot – there were just way too many people to let them stay within the mall without causing some sort of hazard! I’ve seen footage for the releases of the original films, and this was pretty much what I had imagined that would have been like. People were dressed up as characters, waving around their lightsabers ranging in price from plastic extendable sword to one of those incredible swords with the authentic hilts and the blade that lit up from the bottom up and made authentic sounds when moved around and clashed with another which I still really freaking want. And there was a ton of discussion about the lore of the series, both fictional and real. And, most of all, there was excitement for the movie, because, despite the inadequacies of the previous two, everyone was hoping that Episode III was going to be the ironic redemption of the prequel series. Finally, we were going to get to see Anakin’s descent into the Dark Side and the extermination of the Jedi. And we all knew it was going to be awesome because – dun dun duuuuun – this was also the first Star Wars movie to get a PG-13 rating! George Lucas was finally getting serious, everyone! Read more…

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

May 22, 2014 2 comments
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the JediDirected by: Richard Marquand
Produced by: Howard Kazanjian
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas
Edited by: Sean Barton, Marcia Lucas, Duwayne Dunham
Cinematography by: Alan Hume
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Alec Guinness, Sebastian Shaw, Denis Lawson, Kenneth Colley, Warwick Davis, Jeremy Bulloch, Caroline Blakiston
Review based on the 1983 theatrical version
Year: 1983

 

Back when recording things from TV was the only way to obtain certain movies you didn’t want to actually buy, I recall a friend of the family giving my family their collection of TV-recorded VHS tapes, most of them set to the longest recording time in order to maximize the content they had. One of these tapes contained both the original Karate Kid (save for the first couple minutes) and, yes, Return of the Jedi, making this the first time I ever actually could claim any sort of ownership over any of the Star Wars movies. Naturally, I watched it pretty often, and the mere fact that this was the only one I could watch without having to go seek out any rentals or borrow them from friends made this movie my second favorite (because there’s just no questioning the greatness of The Empire Strikes Back, kids). Now that I do own both trilogies (twice over for the original trilogy, thanks to the 2006 “limited” release of the DVDs which contained the original theatrical versions), however, the flaws of the once-final chapter in the Star Wars saga have really become rather apparent, thanks in large part to the prequels kind of bringing them out retroactively. Read more…

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

May 16, 2014 7 comments
Star Wars Episode V:  The Empire Strikes BackDirected by: Irvin Kershner
Produced by: Gary Kurtz
Written by: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay), George Lucas (story)
Edited by: Paul Hirsch
Cinematography by: Peter Suschitzsky, BSC
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, Jeremy Bulloch, Jason Wingreen, Alec Guinness, Denis Lawson, Clive Revill
Review based on the 1980 theatrical version
Year: 1980

 

It’s all downhill from here, folks. Movie number 2, and I’m already at the best of not just the original trilogy, but the entire saga, and it’s honestly doubtful that even the new sequel trilogy will best the work put forth here. George Lucas still had some say in the story of The Empire Strikes Back, but this is the film that people point to when they want to point out how, even back then, less of Lucas was always a good thing, even if what his diminished presence improves upon is his own creation. Heck, even the subsequent retoolings couldn’t diminish the film’s quality – though sometimes they even improved upon it, as with the enhancements to Cloud City’s ambience and the insertion of Ian McDiarmid’s take on the Emperor in that holoconference scene between him and Darth Vader. Let’s just chalk all that up to the fact that The Empire Strikes Back is just too awesome for its radiance to not influence any such reconfiguring. Read more…

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

May 8, 2014 4 comments
Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope)Directed by: George Lucas
Produced by: Gary Kurtz
Written by: George Lucas
Edited by: Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, Richard Chew
Cinematography by: Gilbert Taylor
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Phil Brown, Shelagh Fraser, Denis Lawson, Gerrick Hagon
Review based on the 1977 original theatrical version
Year: 1977

 

I told myself that I wouldn’t let my reviews of the Star Wars films devolve into insane fandom, and so I will attempt to keep that promise. That being said, let me start you off by letting you in on a secret that not many before now really know about me: A long time ago… I actually absolutely hated sci-fi, fantasy, and everything in between. The object of my particular ire was actually Star Trek, as my friend Tye was actually an insanely fanatical Trekkie, but coming in a close second was, yes, Star Wars. The reasoning? It had the word “star” in it, which obviously meant that it was for nerds, which I did not identify as at the time. (I so was…) Read more…

May the Force be with you – at least for about the month of May or so…

May 1, 2014 1 comment

Star Wars Saga

Hello, fellow nerds! Did you hear the news? We finally know the lead cast of Star Wars Episode VII! And it is freaking SOLID! Cannot wait! … But we’ll just have to, I guess, because it’s not coming out until December 2015… which is more than a year and a half away. GAH!

So, understandably, as a fan, I’m pretty freaking pumped about this new trilogy, and I need to get this energy out somehow. What better way than to do it publicly? So, even though I just got done doing a month of 90s nostalgia movies, I’m starting another theme month. Only… it might last a bit more than a month since I’m planning on reviewing all seven theatrically released films, and given that I might do a few theatrical films during that time frame, and with my time and energy being what they are these days, it might take longer than the standard month to get the reviews out. Oh, yeah, and that’s right — seven (7) films!

No, I did not time travel into the future to bring you the first exclusive review of Episode VII: Rise of the Gungans, and, no, I’m not reviewing The Star Wars Holiday Special, either (yet…). And, no, I’m not talking about Caravan of Courage, either. I’m including the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the lineup, even if it was just a theatrically released movie edit of the TV series’ first few episodes, as I feel like the series really has become a beacon of hope for what’s to come, even if it was from the pre-Disney era that we’re only just beginning to experience.

Star Wars - The Clone Wars (horizontal)

I also want you to know that these reviews will not go into esoteric things like “The Hero’s Journey,” Lucas’ personal influences that went into making the film, nor will I go (too much) into the series’ importance in shaping the landscape of Hollywood and blockbusters in general. These reviews will take the films on their own merits and pretty much strictly from my own personal perspective and enthusiasm (or even lack thereof) for each of the films. I feel like this would be the appropriate approach because, frankly, the whole Hero’s Journey thing has been played out — I even wrote my own personal essay about how the posters themselves reflect Lucas’ personal influences when I was in college.

I will also refrain as much as possible about griping about the many changes that have been enacted upon the original trilogy over the years. While I think that many of the changes were either inconsequential for for the better (better Death Star destruction, Hoth cockpit transparencies fixed, the Emperor in Empire being played by Ian McDiarmid, and, yes, even the replacing of “Yub Nub” with a more fitting galaxy-spanning montage at the end of Jedi), I will eliminate these complaints  mainly by reviewing strictly the original theatrical versions, which I do, indeed, have on DVD. (If you would like to hear my reactions on the Blu-Ray edition of the first film, please feel free to read them here.) So, yes, each review of the original trilogy films will be based on the versions where Han shoots first, the Emperor is initially portrayed by a woman with chimp eyes, Jabba doesn’t appear until Return of the Jedi, and Anakin Skywalker is strictly portrayed by Sebastian Shaw (which sadly cannot be said for any of the prequels). All that being said, while I will review all the films in the proper theatrically released order, I will still be using the newer naming structure of Star Wars Episode [#: Subtitle] for these reviews, mostly for the sake of order and unity and because of what’s to come…

Star Wars Episode VII cast roundtable

So, yeah, I think I’ve properly appeased all the fans and clarified my positions on the matter. It’s going to be a long process, but I’m looking forward to it! Wish me luck, and may the Force be with us all!

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