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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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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 II: Attack of the Clones

June 6, 2014 17 comments
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the ClonesDirected by: George Lucas
Produced by: Rick McCallum
Written by: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
Edited by: Ben Burtt
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Temuera Morrison, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Daniel Logan, Silas Carson, Jack Thompson, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Ahmed Best, Rose Byrne, Jay Laga’aia, Pernilla August, Leeanna Walsman
Year: 2002

 

At some point in my life, I didn’t really know which one was worse: The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones. On the one hand, you have one of the dullest, most inconsequential films in the series that also has some of the most childish humor, to top it off, but at least it had some killer music and Darth Maul. On the other, you have George Lucas’ depiction of teenage angst within the Jedi Order and some of the most ridiculous romantic interactions between two characters ever scripted, the likes of which will have your eyes rolling out of your head and having your mind blown from thinking about just how that line about sand ever made it through someone’s mind and into the first draft of the script, let alone the final film. It took a lot of thinking, honestly, but after a while, I did eventually settle on The Phantom Menace being the worst of the two, because it not only had a bad script, but also, overall, it had just very little impact of all the films in the saga in the process. Attack of the Clones at least finally set some things in motion that would have bigger consequences later on in the story. Also, you finally get to see both Yoda and Mace Windu in combat, so… that’s gotta count for something? Read more…

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

May 31, 2014 4 comments
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceDirected by: George Lucas
Produced by: Rick McCallum
Written by: George Lucas
Edited by: Ben Burtt, Paul Martin Smith
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Keira Knightley, Ray Park, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Silas Carson, Hugh Quarshie, Andy Secombe, Lewis MacLeod, Frank Oz, Samuel L. Jackson, Terence Stamp, Brian Blessed, Greg Proops, Scott Capurro
Year: 1999

 

Oh man, here we go… 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…

Grudge Match Review: “Scrooged” vs. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” vs. “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Rounds 6 – 10

December 29, 2011 5 comments

<< Part I
Round 6: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Robert Hammond (uncredited), Robert Tygner (performer), and, yes, Jim Carrey as The Ghost of Christmas Future

Easily the ghost most people remember, and also the one where almost nobody seems to deviate from the tradition — not even Scrooged. The cloaked figure known as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (alternately, of Christmas Future) is often seen as the most dramatic of the spirits, revealing to Scrooge how the future could turn out if he doesn’t change his ways. There are differences in how each movie portrays the spirit, of course, but ultimately, the horrific aspect is the same, and it’s only a matter of how horrific and in what way.

Scrooged, for instance, keeps with the thematics, with the ghost having a heavy, ghoulish cloak with blue streaks and a TV screen for a face that flashes static and images from Frank’s life. Inside his cloak are hellish ghouls, moaning in agony. The visions of the future he shows Frank are abstract and look completely unlike anything else in the film, showing a bleak and sterile future, free from passion and compassion.

The Muppets keep it grim and faithful, but they are sure to make sure that families who show this to their children will not have tears by the end of the film. And, ultimately, that’s okay. It doesn’t break out into song, it doesn’t speak, and it certainly isn’t the most joyful spirit in the world, but we do need a Christmas Carol adaptation that is faithful without being both syrupy sweet and cheaply made. This spirit didn’t make that much of an impact on me as a viewer, but I get that I’m not necessarily the intended audience here.

Of course, it’s remarkably clear that Disney and Zemeckis were aiming for a much older audience with their collaboration on A Christmas Carol, as the ghost maintains his scary nature, multiplied by ten, with only Jim Carrey’s performance to keep things a bit lighter. Not nearly concerned with being grim and more concentrated with being terrifying, this ghost is seemingly the byproduct of merging the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Headless Horseman, with a hint of shrink ray. It seems as though the filmmakers were concerned that they didn’t have a big finale for the talky climax, and so the final spirit, who first appears as a living shadow, gains a red-eyed horse and a chariot of nightmares, shrinking Scrooge and chasing him the horrors of Christmas Yet to Come — and also the horrors of sewers and being the size of a rat. I guess that’s symbolism? Read more…

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