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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Every generation has a legend

20192 h 22 min
Overview

The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once again as the journey of Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle begins.

Metadata
Director J.J. Abrams
Runtime 2 h 22 min
Release Date 18 December 2019
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Bad
Actors
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Mark Hamill, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Greg Grunberg, Shirley Henderson, Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan, Hassan Taj, Lee Towersey, Brian Herring, Dave Chapman, Richard Guiver, Lynn Robertson Bruce, J.J. Abrams, Claire Roi Harvey, Richard Coombs, Matt Denton, Nick Kellington, Mandeep Dhillon, Alison Rose, Amanda Lawrence, Tanya Moodie, Simon Paisley Day, Geff Francis, Amanda Hale, Amir El-Masry, Aidan Cook, Patrick Williams, Martin Wilde, Anton Simpson-Tidy, Lukaz Leong, Tom Rodgers, Joe Kennard, Ashley Beck, Bryony Miller, Cyril Nri, Angela Christian, Indra Ové, Richard Bremmer, Mark Richard Durden Smith, Andrew Havill, Nasser Memarzia, Patrick Kennedy, Aaron Neil, Joe Hewetson, Raghad Chaar, Mimi Ndiweni, Tom Wilton, Chris Terrio, Kiran Shah, Debra Wilson, Josef Altin, Vinette Robinson, Mike Quinn, Bill Kipsang Rotich, Ann Firbank, Diana Kent, Warwick Davis, Harrison Davis, Elliot Hawkes, Philicia Saunders, John Williams, Nigel Godrich, Dhani Harrison, J.D. Dillard, Dave Hearn, Rochenda Sandall, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Andreea Diac, Liam Cook, Denis Lawson, Carolyn Hennesy, Paul Kasey, Matthew Wood, James Earl Jones, Andy Serkis, Josefine Irrera Jackson, Cailey Fleming, Jodie Comer, Billy Howle, Hayden Christensen, Olivia d'Abo, Ashley Eckstein, Jennifer Hale, Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Alec Guinness, Frank Oz, Angelique Perrin, Freddie Prinze Jr., Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford, Lin-Manuel Miranda, David Acord, Dan Adler, Dee Bradley Baker, Verona Blue, Steve Blum, David Boat, David W. Collins, Jonathan Dixon, Terri Douglas, Robin Atkin Downes, Amanda Foreman, Janina Gavankar, Grey DeLisle, Stefan Grube, Mike Holland, Karen Huie, Tom Kane, Lex Lang, Vanessa Lengies, Logic, Yuri Lowenthal, Vanessa Marshall, Donald Mustard, Nicole Nasca Supercinski, Michelle Rejwan, Julian Stone, Tara Strong, Fred Tatasciore, James Arnold Taylor, Jessica Tuck, Karl Urban, Reggie Watts, Samuel Witwer

Ok, so there is a lot to unpack with this movie. I set a pretty low bar going into The Rise of Skywalker and it still managed to walk clear under it unimpeded. There is much, much more going wrong with this movie than can be covered in this little review here. And some things that cannot be mentioned directly due to spoilers. But it would not be too far off to compare Episode IX to Game of Thrones Season 8.

Let’s start by looking at the definition of the word continuity: the maintenance of continuous action and self-consistent detail in the various scenes of a movie or broadcast. This needs to be defined here because J.J. Abrams did not do it. Episode VIII saw Rian Johnson ignoring a lot of Abrams work from Episode VII and it seems like Abrams decided to return the favor here. A lot of pre-established information including plot development, character arcs, and world-building is just ignored or outright broken. And not just concerning Episode VII; this also includes continuity going as far back as the Original Trilogy. It is bad enough to make audiences wonder if Abrams ever watched or even read a summary of the source material.

The next most glaring issue was the dialogue. This stems in from another issue, doing too much in too little time. It felt like Abrams was attempting to squeeze and entire trilogy worth of plot into this one film. So, despite the 142-minute run time, the movie feels incredibly rushed. Almost every line of dialogue comes across as need-to-know information. The delivery makes it all so in-your-face that it almost never feels like the characters are having a regular conversation. More like they are just running down a bulleted list.

The last issue was the same problem the previous two films had: a lack of world-building. The previous two films were admittingly guilty of this too. But The Rise of Skywalker was a lot more upfront about it. Instead of a half-hearted explanation or leaving this kind of open ended so the audience could fill in the blanks, Episode IX just said, “This is the way things are. Deal with it.” The film really leaves audiences with more questions than answers given all the plot-holes.

This was the first time in my life where I honestly, truly felt bored by something Star Wars. There were plenty of bad moments in the old EU, but you still had great moments to make up for it. The new Disney trilogy has progressively gotten worse. We have gone from an Episode IV remake to a mixed bag of a film to this dumpster fire of a cash grab. It is not too much of a surprise that the franchise was run into the ground after being bought out, but what is amazing is just how quickly Disney managed to do it.

December 29, 2019

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Saga Continues

20172 h 32 min
Overview

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

Metadata
Director Rian Johnson
Runtime 2 h 32 min
Release Date 13 December 2017
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has received a lot of analysis in the short time since its release. Some have loved it, some have hated it, and a fair number are somewhere in-between. I put myself in the third category, though leaning more towards the “love it” side of things. For all the haters out there, let me say this right off the bat: Yes, the film did have issues. It was not a perfect cinematic masterpiece. But it was nowhere close to having the issues of the prequels. Everything you can complain about in The Last Jedi had an equivalent, yet dumber, scene in the prequels (comparisons will not be made in this review for the sake of avoiding spoilers).

Considering how much The Force Awakens mimicked A New Hope, many people expected The Last Jedi to be reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back. While there are reused thematic elements, The Last Jedi is not a soft reboot like the previous film. You probably could successfully argue the point that it is, but that is not how it struck me.

The Last Jedi seemed to focus a lot more on character development than plot. As far as plot progression goes, there really is not too much here. But the character development is fantastic. You can feel the new generation of actors getting these roles set up for the next film. The Force Awakens told us who these people are. The Last Jedi shows us who they are going to be. Episode IX will likely take that to its conclusion as destiny is a fairly prevalent theme in Star Wars.

There does not really seem to be a general public consensus on what this film should be, or have been. Long-time fans of the old Expanded Universe (novels, comics, video games, etc.) want to see more of those elements implemented. Some people want more of the same from the original movies. Others do not seem to know what they want and are somehow still upset. But it feels like this film set out what it was meant to do; ushering out the older, Lucas-era concepts to bring us to the new age of Disney. Star Wars has never been this grand, perfect thing people seem to envision. Parts of the old Expanded Universe sucked and needed to go. The films have used newer, unknown actors. The plot tends to be full of holes. The Force is mysterious and largely unexplained (or at least works best that way; damn you midichlorians!). At the end of the day, these are campy sci-fi family films. Enjoy it for what it is, not what you think it should be.

December 31, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

A Rebellion Built on Hope

20162 h 14 min

Rogue One is a type of story previously confined to Expanded Universe novels taken to the big screen. This is not a story of great heroes capable of feats beyond normal people. These are the normal people. They are the soldiers, spies, and other rebels who spent years fighting the Empire. The original trilogy is certainly an epic story with Luke and co. being the center of many turning points for the Rebel Alliance. But it is important to remember that they did not act alone. Smaller acts previously confined to briefly mentioned exposition now get their own moment in the spotlight.

The opening crawl of A New Hope mentions that a secret Rebel fleet stole the plans to the Death Star. Likewise, the original movie mentions that the team who stole the plans died in the process. So it is not secret what this movie will be about or how it will end. Now the story does start out slow as the character introductions are made. The main characters may not be the A-team, but they are some of the best the Rebels have to offer. It is somewhat hard to judge the characters individually when they are, by and large, inconsequential. They are not the heroes of the story as a whole, just this one small piece.

Some people have said that this is the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. While Rogue One is a good movie, it is not even close to that. If anything Rogue One did very well because it is unique. The other films are more epics, adventure stories, than anything else. Take the original movie, for example. A black knight captures a princess, who sends her servants to an old knight for help only to find aid in the unlikeliest of people, a farm boy and a scruffy looking scoundrel. From the big evil Empire to the storming of a fortress, the story had tons in common with old medieval type tales.

Rogue One, by contrast, is a war movie. The film shows a darker side of the Rebellion and a (comparatively) more human side of the Empire. These people are doing somewhat questionable things and sacrificing themselves for a cause they believe in. Are these characters on par with Luke, Han, and Leia? No. Are they supposed to be? Again, no. Rogue One is a back story; it is not meant to be at the forefront. And while the film in and of itself is somewhat lacking, fans who have read the books and seen other pieces of the Expanded Universe will know the “missing” pieces are out there.

December 25, 2016