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Star Wars 40th Anniversary Mini-Event

 

 

On this day, forty years ago, a film was released that changed the landscape of filmmaking forever…

 

 

Star Wars (later known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), was released on May 25, 1977, becoming a worldwide phenomenon, expanding its universe beyond films into books, comics, video games, television shows, and… well, you name it, and Star Wars has probably licensed itself to it in some form. Who knew back then that the franchise would also go on to become part of the Walt Disney empire alongside the likes of Marvel Comics? Or that the House of Mouse would actually do such a great, respectful job of handling the franchise?

As a result of this momentous event, I wanted to actually do some more reviews.

If you know me, you know I’m a pretty big fan of this universe. Perhaps not the biggest fan, but pretty big, all the same. I followed The Clone Wars TV series and am following Rebels. I saw the prequel films each at least three times in theatres, and have also made a point of seeing Disney’s films the same number. My only regret in all this is that I only ever got to see the original film theatrically was its 1997 Special Edition, and also that The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi never made it to the theatres where I was living at the time (i.e., a military base overseas).

“But, CJ,” I hear you exclaim, “you’ve already reviewed all the movies! Including Rogue One and that hastily put together pastiche of an animated ‘movie,’ The Clone Wars! What are you going to do, review The Holiday Special in May!?”

Well, to answer your question, no! I do not. I still plan on doing that around Christmas – you know, whenever I get around to actually getting the resolve to watch that again. [shudders] Instead, I intend to review a couple actual, honest-to-George movies you may have forgotten existed, but ones that I sure haven’t! You might also find it odd that these films were actually – gasp! – my first introduction ever to the Star Wars universe, period. I’m talking, of course, about…

… Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor!

Yup. My first exposure to anything Star Wars-related was actually the post-Return of the Jedi TV movie spinoffs starring the original trilogy’s most annoying characters – the cuddly teddy bears who inexplicably helped Leia, Han, and Chewie take down the Empire on the forest moon of Endor.

I had no idea at the time that these were part of a greater whole, having only watched them because a friend insisted on watching his VHS copies every now and then when I came over or spent the night at his place when we were about 7 or 8. Oddly, he didn’t have any Star Wars films, but he had all six original Star Trek films – those VHS copies that, when the spines were lined up, created a tantalizing picture of the Enterprise. Luckily, he was also my gateway to that franchise, but while I do love that series and don’t ever really understand the supposed rivalry between the two franchises and its fans, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t far more inclined to call myself more a fan of Star Wars and its whimsical, fantasy-based world.

But I have seen neither Caravan of Courage (originally known as The Ewok Adventure) nor The Battle for Endor since then, and so I decided to revisit the movies that started it all – well, for me, at least. What would I suddenly remember from these films that I’d forgotten in the last two decades? Do the movies hold up? Did they expand upon the greater Star Wars universe in any meaningful or even little but appreciable ways? Are they as bad as enduring Jar Jar Binks for an entire movie or watching Chewbacca’s family roar-gurgling at each other incessantly and without subtitles while we, the audience, stare at our screens aghast as to why we continue to watch that monstrosity? These were questions I needed answers to, and while I intended to do this for May the Fourth, I figured the franchise’s 40th anniversary was an even better time, signifying not just its beginning, but also in remembrance of my own fandom’s beginning – and I also got a little too busy and, therefore, tired around May 4….

THEATRICAL REVIEW – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

December 18, 2016 1 comment
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDirected by: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Sheamur, Simon Emanuel
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Edited by: John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, James Earl Jones, Valene Kane
Based on characters and concepts by George Lucas
Year: 2016

 

Disappointment. No, that’s not my reaction to Rogue One. Heck no! But it was the general consensus I gathered from people after they were told that the 2016 Star Wars film was not a follow-up to last year’s The Force Awakens but rather an ominously pre-A New Hope film that was mostly independent from the Skywalker family and friends’ saga. Most of that was just because they were eager to see that story continue, but, for some, there was also an added level of scorn for a film they seemed to consider… illegitimate. Which is unfortunate, as Rogue One, in both style and focus, is a much more important and bolder move forward for Disney and their still nascent new property, signaling a promising future for the franchise that isn’t beholden to repeating itself for the sake of nostalgia and familiarity. Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

June 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Star Wars: The Clone WarsDirected by: Dave Filoni
Produced by: George Lucas, Catherine Winder
Written by: Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching, Scott Murphy
Edited by: Jason Tucker
Animation directed by: Kevin Jong, Jesse Yeh
Music by: Kevin Kiner, John Williams (theme)
Starring: Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein, Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Nika Futterman, Anthony Daniels, Ian Abercrombie, Catherine Taber, Corey Burton, David Acord, Kevin Michael Richardson, Matthew Wood
Year: 2008

 

When Star Wars Episode VII comes out, it’s funny to think about how it won’t be the seventh film in the series to debut in theatres. No doubt nitpicky players of trivia games will forever be using Star Wars: The Clone Wars as the answer to the trick question, “What was the name of the seventh feature film in the Star Wars series to be released in theatres?” and arguments will then ensue over whether or not the movie actually counts as being part of the saga. Friendships will be destroyed. Families torn apart. Star Wars: The Old Republic servers will crash with the onslaught of flame wars erupting. Read more…

Review: “Macross II: The Movie” (“超時空要塞マクロスII -LOVERS AGAIN-“)

August 3, 2013 6 comments
Macross IIDirected by: Ken’ichi Yatagai
Produced by: Shinichi Iguchi, Hiroaki Inoue, Hiroshi Kakoi, Hirotake Kanda, Keiji Kusano, Minoru Takanashi
Written by: Sukehiro Tomita
Art Direction by: Hidenori Nakahata
Cinematography by: Kazuhiro Konishi
Music by: Shirô Sagisu
Starring: Tsutomu Takayama, Hiroko Kasahara, Yumi Tôma, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Bin Shimada, Yukio Satō, Ryūzaburō Ōtomo, Takeshi Kusao, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Tōru Furuya, Ryōtarō Okiayu, Takeshi Watabe, Aya Hara
Year: 1993

 

This is honestly the first non-Studio Ghibli, non-video-game-related anime movie I’ve ever really sat down to watch with the intention of actually watching the thing all the way through to the end. My friend who had suggested K-PAX a while ago had originally suggested the original Macross movie (actually a TV program edited into a movie which is more accurately named The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, but… well, we’ll just stick to Macross for this review), but, upon browsing Netflix, it looked like all they carried was the series version that spanned 8 discs – and there was no way I was going to watch all that. Hence, the coaxing of his left field suggestion of K-PAX. But, lucky for me, my friend had figured out that, yes, there is actually a Macross movie I could review, and he just so happened to own it: Macross II: The Movie (a.k.a.: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again, though, again, we’ll just shorten it to Macross II). Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Prometheus”

June 9, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Produced by: Ridley Scott, David Giler, Walter Hill
Written by: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Cinematography by: Dairusz Wolski
Music by: Marc Stretenfeld
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce
Year: 2012

 

Here’s a little thing you really need to know about Prometheus, and it’s something that Ridley Scott would definitely like you to know, as well: Prometheus, though set in the same universe as the Alien film series, is not a prequel — at least not in the sense that one would expect from hearing that word. Prometheus, aside from a few nods, does not feature the parents of Ellen Ripley, does not feature Lance Henriksen, and does not, in fact, really set up any plot points in the Alien films that came before, and without the scattered connections and references to those films, Prometheus likely would have stood on its own as a completely unrelated film. What connections to the Alien films that are present are neat little nods that fans will enjoy that help to effectively build up this universe rather than just exploit a film franchise. But, much like the plot, do not go in expecting a film that apes any of the films that came before it. You will be profoundly disappointed if you do. Read more…

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