Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

If you hated that Star Wars film then I can never be your Scriptgremlin again! Whinged the Rebel Scum who until recently I had stopped ‘motivating’ with soap. Which I will start doing again as soon as possible.

And keep doing until the staff at Boots start asking questions again.

Anyway, I was looking forward to reviewing the film that came out this weekend. Not so much the bloated space wizard saga but The Prince Of Nothingwood a documentary about an Afghan film-maker who claims to have produced and directed more than one hundred movies (none of which is on IMDb!) and that he even was at work during the Taliban regime, when all recorded images, even photographs, were forbidden. Oh, and did I mention it currently has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes?

Sadly though, even in London! London! This film is nearly impossible to find, so I was left with no other option than to tangle with the bloated space wizard saga. Go me.

So, I think we can all agree that The Force Awakens was the greatest fan film ever made as it was basically a remake of A New Hope. And there’s very little argument to my opinion that Suicide Squad was basically a well meaning mis-fire that was at least trying something new. Sorry, I mean Rogue One. But it’s still a better Suicide Squad than Suicide Squad. 

Where was I?

Oh, right, The Last Jedi. The first original Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith and the first watchable original Star Wars film since the original trilogy finished in 1983.

Well, I went into my screening at 10am on day of release (because i’m just that damn cool) and came out of it at 12.50! And that’s only because I had to skip on the credits. Seriously! 4 hours? I’ve had holidays were shorter than The Last Jedi! Good luck if your taking our under tens to see it. Just as an aisde, NO film has a right to be that long unless it’s going for Best Picture Oscar or rhymes with Lord of da Tings. 

And much like those films, this film could seriously do with about half an hour being shaved off of it. And about 99% of those minutes comes in the final 30 to 40 minutes. The is NO reason why the big end action scene could not have been placed at the beginning of the next film or simply scrapped entirely. It holds no memorable action, moments, character development and simply seems to exist to provide awesome visuals for the trailer.

Speaking of which, this film has some amazing visuals that are almost  amazing as those in Blade Runner 2049- which I think is the number of people that actually saw that modern masterpiece unlike the millions that will see this film in the next few weeks. And they will see a film that opens with arguably the greatest space battle of all time as a lone star-fighter goes up against something so huge, so vast, so massive that it succeeds in showing us what Rogue One was trying to do- show us the might of the empire and how truly outgunned and seemingly doomed to fail the Rebellion truly was. A theme that this film keeps hitting and hitting and hitting. And doing it so, so well. You truly do feel that there is no way out for the good guys this time.

At least you do at certain points- one subplot could have been removed completely and not affected the film in any way shape or form beyond allowing the film to focus on whats actually interesting- Rey attempting to get an incredibly unwilling Luke Skywalker to train her and a desperate rebel trying everything they can think of to escape a First Order fleet before they run out of fuel….

Wait, what?

Run out of fuel… In Space? Whilst going in a straight line!?!!? You do know that that’s impossible right? Newton’s First Law states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force. Such as gravity, or friction, or a brick wall, none of which exists in deep !?!!? space. At least make it a leak in the ships air tanks or overheating reactors owing to being under so much fire or something. Yeash.

Like I say, the film looks amazing and John Williams as always sounds great. Hell, they even get fantastic performances out of the cast, although I would like to find the person who though Del Toro’s character should have a stutter and have a few… ‘quiet’ words with them. It’s a shame as his character does introduce something of  a moral grey area into the traditionally, morally black and white Star Wars universe and i’d love to see him return at some point.

I would also like to ask what person thought that Supreme leader Snoke should spend all of his time hanging around in what looks so much like a half dressed set you’d think that the budget had run out by that point in filming. And it’s a shame that it does look so cheap as it could so easily have looked so good and so many other scenes have little details that make the universe seem alive that this just seems like an oversight of some kind.

But, most of all I want to find the person who kept putting silly little Joss Wheedonesque little quips and one liners in the film as they seem really out of place and obvious in this universe (and pretty grating in others). The add nothing to film, kill tension really effectively and are a  becoming a Jai Courtney level blight on film.

On a happier note, Mark Hamill is to be commended  after allegedly telling  director Rian Johnson after reading the script for the film, “I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.” It’s the best performance I’ve ever seen him give, even if he should really be disappointing his English teacher if he ever wants to be an effective Jedi teacher.

It’s a shame that Kylo Ren is still running around set like the emo that quality forgot and whilst he gets some really good writing this time I still don’t see what, if anything Adam Driver brings to this (or indeed any) role as, with better casting and some slightly better direction, there’s enough here for him to be a truly memorable and effective villain, instead of someone that I just wanted to tell to pull themselves together as he seemingly only has one ‘I just want a good cry’ face and… God I miss good villains. What happened to them?  Oh, right, it rhymes with Barvel.

Happily though, Ridley further marks herself as a major talent for the future and Boyega is good as Finn, but he’s more workmanlike than a major talent although he’s not awful in the role, I would liked to have seen him given more to do as his character does get some interesting character development.

All in all, it’s a solid entry into the Star Wars saga from Johnson who until now was best known for Looper back in 2012. But I think a more limited budget would have worked more as it would have made for a tighter, more engaging film. And, I am looking forward to his announced new Star Wars trilogy if his leash was given a little less slack. As this is a very good, very solid film that I think will be an infinitely better watch on the big screen (preferably IMAX 2d)  than on your plasma.

Cut the runtime, the one liners and a plot-line giving other characters both new and old time to breathe and grow, and this could have been a masterpiece.

As is?

My Score- See It 

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Rogue One is a sequel to the prequel of the sequels of the prequels that are the originals, in which this is a prequel of, but not a sequel to the sequel of the originals. Everybody got that?

Good, because I wont be saying it again.

So how to review a film that’s already in IMDB’s top 250 and has one of the largest opening weekends of all time, meaning statistically you’ve already seen it – without doing a spoiler review?

By nitpicking!

Lets start with Lord Vader, who makes a small but fairly awesome cameo in the third act. His costume to me looked like the type you’d by from a high end costume store than from a film with a higher budget than some countries. It was distracting.

Also, this is the first Star Wars film not to have it’s music scored by the legendary John Williams (appreantely the 84 year old fancied a little break) which to my mind is to the films detriment. It just seems slightly lackluster and in dire need of a bit of oomph. I mean, this is a franchise with some of the most legendary music of all time and they don’t use it to full effect.

And the film needs to calm down a little with it’s introduction of characters and planets because even though they’ve started putting the planets names on the screen so we know where they are, the film feels slightly scatterbrained and could do with some slight streamlining.

Oh, do I need to mention that who I think is supposed to be the films main villain is about as scary as my curtains? No? Moving on.

And…

Er…

You got me.

This film is fantastic.

It’s the first Star Wars film that makes you feel the might and the power of the Empire and the seeming insignificance of the rebellion it. And the battles feel urgent and powerful. I mean the storm-troopers still seem about as threatening as a chocolate digestive to a nice cup of tea individually, but just in sheer weight of numbers are nearly unstoppable.

And the cast is uniformly amazing. From Felicity Jones star making turn as Jyn Erso, to Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, Wash from Firefly as K-2SO, Mads Mikkelson as the man forced to build the Death Star and even Peter Cushing who died in 1994 manages to make one last amazing performance. I mean the characters are all under-developed and I have no idea what 99% of them were called, but in acting terms? Gold stars all around.

For crying out loud, even two characters that may as well have introduced themselves as ‘Not’Daredevil and The Punisher turn out to be funny, effective end deep. Hell, I want them to have their own spin off.

But, and I have to state this, this film is much less the clean cut goodies V baddies of the traditional franchise leaning more towards Saving Private Star Wars or Rogue One Down. Make no mistake this is most defiantly a war film and some scenes might be a little too much for younger viewers.

Still, for being the ‘Star Wars film that everybody worried was going to be a flop’ Rogue One is absolutely fantastic. I mean, there are little niggles- Wash’s robot screams a little too much of ‘Insert comic relief here’ but no real deal-breakers, and compared to what belched onto the screen this summer?

It’s amazing.

In special effects, in plot, in people trying to make a good film, in actors trying to do the best that they can, in the director trying to atone for  2014’s Godzilla and in showing that you can can a single paragraph and make something great out of it.

My Score- See It Now 

Why Are Film Days A Thing?

Do you know where your towel is?

Well, you should- today (25/05) is Towel Day in remembrance of the late, great author Douglas Adams. Apparently I’m supposed to spend the day wondering around London looking like someone who’s going to try and have a shower at work/ misplaced his marbles by carrying a towel.

Not a Hitchhiker’s fan? That’s ok, there’s other ‘film days’ (for want of a better term)

Because the Americans can’t get the date right the 26 of April is now Alien day (after LV426- the planet in both Alien films) Not sure how to celebrate this one, I think I might get in trouble if I go around cutting out tourists hearts.

And then of course there’s the big one, May the Fourth- Star War’s day. (May the Fourth be with you… *sigh*) which this year extended itself into Revenge of the Fifth because of course it did.

Most importantly though is October the 1st or Dredd Day which is when fans of the 2012 classic complain online about not getting our sequel/TV show yet.

Now whilst I love all of these franchise, I don’t see why they need a day to themselves, nor do I understand why these franchises have days when say James Bond, Doctor Who and Pirates of the Caribbean do not.

Maybe I’m getting old and losing my sense of fun and adventure but these ‘days’ feel like a marketing departments wet dream, with minimal effort on their part- they get their product back in the public eye! Hell, On Towel Day 2015, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti sent a “Towel Day greeting” and read aloud a sample from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy from the International Space Station! That’s publicity money can’t buy. (Note- There’s also a series of Firefly up there should you get bored)

They also feel isolationist, instead of using them to introduce people to something that you love, it’s an in joke. If people don’t get it, then they feel slightly judged and are probably less likely to check it out.

But what do you guys make of the whole thing?

One last ‘film day’ for you- It is a long standing tradition in all British Antarctic research stations to watch The Thing (1982) as part of their Midwinter feast and celebration held every June 21. Because… why not?

Presenting Young Han Solo!

And so after an exhaustive and far reaching search that has scoured the globe I present to you the star of the Young Han Solo spin off that we didn’t know we wanted. (But it will still make billions)

Presenting… Alden Ehrenreich

*Sigh*

Whats wrong with established actors that I’ve actually heard of? Does me liking an actor immediately cancel that person out from getting good roles? I mean Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Eddie The Eagle)  was right there!

Mind you the new Spider-Man is working out rather well so let me see…

According to IMDB, so he’s worked with The Coen Brothers in Hail, Caeser AND Woody Allen in Blue Jasmine. I mean, those were bit parts but at least he has some experience. He’s also been in a few stinkers but he’s worked pretty solidly in films and television. Although he seems to have had no lead roles in any project

I’m going to ignore the fact that he looks nothing like Harrison Ford as that’s what a make-up department is for.

I’m also going to ignore the fact that I have no idea why we need a Han Solo spin off film unless George Lucas needs another gold-filled swimming pool.

However I will be keeping an eye on this project.

What do you guys think?

Does Elsa ‘Need’ A Girlfriend?

I’ve never managed to see Frozen, the one time I tried to watch it my laptop insisted that I watch a rather good 2010 survival horror film of the same name instead.

However, it must have done something right- it it the highest grossing animated film  of all time after all.

And now, inevitably it’s getting a sequel which is due to be released in 2018 and there’s a campaign to make  the lead character Elsa come out as gay and acquire a girlfriend.

Now I’m going to sidestep the potential Elsa is a strong independent woman and therefore must be a lesbian debate.’ Much as i’m going to sidestep that Frozen to make has always looked like a bit of an X-Men rip-off to me. Instead i’m going to focus on LGBT representation in Disney products.

Because there isn’t any.

Not in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Marvel is owned by Disney)

Nor in the Star Wars universe (Ditto)

Nor (as far as I am aware) in any of the millions of films Disney has released, stretching all the way back to Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs 

And that’s ridiculous.

I understand that to make Elsa (or indeed any other character) gay would cause some controversy, but we live in a world in which Zootopia was released and if Disney can released something as ‘adult’ as that, how can making a character gay hurt?

Indeed, the people that would be upset about this ‘revelation’ have already tried to make this controversial and failed completely. And I honestly feel that it wouldn’t affect ticket sales in a negative fashion. Most people have gay friends/family and the world hasn’t ended. And it would be good for children struggling with their sexuality and feeling isolated to know that they are not alone and that there are other people out there like them.

Because now that I think about it, I really can’t think of any gay characters in films or TV aged at children.

Can you?

Star Wars The Force Awakens Review

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Harrison Ford Harrison Ford
Mark Hamill Mark Hamill
Carrie Fisher Carrie Fisher
Adam Driver Adam Driver
Daisy Ridley Daisy Ridley
John Boyega John Boyega
Oscar Isaac Oscar Isaac
Lupita Nyong'o Lupita Nyong’o
Andy Serkis Andy Serkis

Plot Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.

Review- I spent the entire film grinning like a 9 year old boy (According to my better half.)

From the opening seconds where the music swells and we see a Star Destroyer all your fears evaporate and you just know that this is going to be amazing.

And it was, with the pacing, dialogue, characters, sound design, editing and plot all almost perfect. This isn’t just the best Star Wars film, its arguably the best space film of all time.

JJ Abrams has done the only sensible thing he could with George Lucas- banished him entirely. Lucas has neither a directing, writing or producing credit. (I like to imagine him in a closet surrounded by unsold Howard The Duck and Jar-Jar Merchandise.)

Now, that the two main characters (Rey and Finn) are played by people with very little in their past (Daisy Ridley has only done bit parts on British TV with neither a Wikipedia or IMDB page to her name before this film and John Boyega’s big claim to fame was Attack the Block) may have raised a few eyebrows but Fisher, Hamill and Ford were all in a similar boat when the original came out and in any case Ridley is an A lister in the making and Boyega is very solid.

Sadly though, here we also find the films weakest link. The villain portrayed by Adam Driver (of Girls fame) is arguably slightly more threatening than a wet tea towel but not by much. His character is doing pretty well up until the half way point and then….. my tea towel defiantly gains the upper hand.

But in every other respect this film is flawless. (Although I did miss the Imperial March from the soundtrack.) Every battle feelS gritty and more realistic, you care about the characters, the stunts are thrilling with CGI kept to a minimum and the use of models making everything seem huge!

Even more amazingly, this is the first film since Dredd where the 3-d is more than an excuse to whack up the ticket prices- it’s damn near essential.

Aside from the villain this is a perfect film and a welcome return to “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

My SCORE- SEE IT NOW!

Hands off my Posters!

On the off chance that you’ve been living under a rock on the far side of Mars with your fingers in your ears for the last year, there is a Star Wars film coming out soon.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that you are aware that this particular film star a person of colored origin. The darker corners of the internet found this offensive enough to demand a boycott of the film. The rest of the world shrugged and got on with living in 2015.

At least that what I thought had happened.

And then the world saw what the Chinese had done to the poster for Star Wars Episode 7: Taking the Mickey. I used it as the image for this article. Go have another look.

I’ll wait. Promise!

Yeah, did you spot who was missing? Not just Finn, (British actor John Boyega) but also, other characters played by non-white characters, including Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata were missing entirely, as was Chewbacca the Wookiee.

They did however leave Darth Donald Duck though.

Disney has refused to comment and Chen Qiuping of the Beijing Film Association has claimed “Since the poster is merely a promotion method and an individual case, it would be unfair to criticize Chinese audiences for discriminating against the black actor,”

Of course not.

It’s just like how it wasn’t racist when the posters for Twelve Years A Slave sidelined  Chiwetel Ejiofor (who was only the main character!) in favor of Brad Pitt (who was a minor character.)

Another example can be found in Israel, where The Hunger Games: Mocking jay Part 2 posters had to be changed because (Shock! Horror!) the posters showed Jennifer Laurence! She was replaced with a fiery Mocking jay to avoid offending ultra religious Jews.

I understand that in order to sell films to different markets you have to change what aspects you inflate in order to drive sales. But if doing so requires you to sideline actors for the color of their skin?

There’s more to life than box-office numbers.