Lucasfilm

December 17, 2017

“The Last Jedi” Debate: Seeing It From Both Sides

Well the word is out; “The Last Jedi” is great!

Also, “The Last Jedi” is awful!

Don’t you just love the Internet in all of it’s infinite wisdom.

With Friday, December 15th being the official official release date of Lucasfilm and Disney’s latest cash cow, there’s been plenty of talk about where “Star Wars: Episode XIII The Last Jedi” falls in the conversation of greatest “Star Wars” film. We had the same conversation two years ago when “The Force Awakens” was released and we’ll have the same conversation again in two years when “Episode IX” is released.

But there is disturbance in The Force for Rian Johnson’s sci-fi epic. Whereas JJ Abram’s restructuring of “A New Hope” was met with almost universal praise with nostalgia galore and some actual moments that shook the film universe and fanbase to it’s core, this time around there seems to be more backlash than ever.

Perhaps this is just the world that we happen to live in now. People love what they love, and people love to shit all over what people love. The people that love the thing they love will defend it, and the people that love to shit on the thing that people love will continue to argue until either their mom turns off the Internet in the house or those people move onto the next thing they decide to shit on. Personally, I love to have a rousing debate, but we’ve also gotten to a place in this world, and by world I mean the world of Twitter, message boards on Reddit and anywhere else where people can have an opinion until they can’t afford it anymore because Net Neutrality is gone (but that’s something else to bitch about for a different time) and there is a simple sense of being way too sensitive that someone might not have the same opinion as you. There is also letting the troll win and controlling your emotions in a way that make you re-think what you may really like. Or there is the even more trap of going down to a troll’s level and insulting their intelligence because all logic has been thrown out of the window.

These types of things always seem to rear their ugly heads when it comes to fandoms. We rarely see this type of dissension for dramas, comedies, or action films, but it could also be the case that we’ve all put ourselves in bubbles of protection with like-minded people who all agree on the same thing, and when our opinions are challenged, we usually strike back quite forcefully.

My point is that, sure, you are always going to have to deal with the few people out there with 45 Twitter Followers who bring up a “hot take” and yet we’ll go out of our way to re-tweet, or answer or have the classic post “look at this stupid idiot,” and at the end of the day, what’s the point?

But with all that being said, I love reading an opposing review because honestly most of them are interesting to read. Within our bubble we have built of the safety of protecting all things we hold dear. But isn’t it healthy to actually read another opinion and maybe challenging your thinking about something. You might not agree with it, but there are some people that make some compelling arguments, even if you feel those arguments are petty and silly.

Honestly, and let’s get into it and stop standing on ceremony, I liked “The Last Jedi.” Did I like it more than “The Force Awakens?”

No.

Does that make me a monster? I certainly hope not, but by saying this isn’t the best “Star Wars” film, period, is already putting me in the line of fire and leaving my “Star Wars” card up for grabs by the masses that have already anointed this film the greatest.

Why did I like “The Force Awakens” better? For me, it was simply more fun and exciting. I got plenty of nostalgia with “The Force Awakens” and while it introduced some new and exciting characters, it still gave me a lot of what I was used to and wanted to see.

“The Last Jedi,” while introducing some new ideas and creating some new relationships, come the end of the film, which for me clocked in at a pretty bloated 2 hours and 32 minutes, had my mind a little fried. But this could have been the poor sound mix in the theater and maybe the fact that I had been up for just about 15 hours after the credits rolled.

Let me just get this out of the way with the gripes: Not a fan of the way Snoke was treated, and the same goes for Luke. The middle sagged. Not a fan of Canto Bight and it’s something that could have been cut down to help the run time. Finally, Porgs are just reasons to sell toys, totally worthless.

Could there be some things done in “Episode IX” to fix some of my issues? Of course, and I hope they are and hopefully my worries are assuaged.

On the other side of the coin, there was plenty I liked; The opening space battle sequence. The middle sacrifice. And the ending battle sequence. There was a great scene in all three acts, with two in the final act. But looking at it now, the things I liked don’t add to the overall progression of plot, they are more set pieces that look awesome and give “The Last Jedi” it’s grand scale.

But at the end of the day, are there fundamental flaws with the film? Sure, but there are fundamental flaws with most Hollywood Blockbusters. Should everyone be able to make their own opinion about a film like this without being accused of not being a fan or having someone say “they feel sorry for them” for not liking something that they happen to love? Of course! But just having to justify why you have an opinion is a microcosm of the world we’re living in now. There is always an opinion of someone else’s opinion, and if that opinion doesn’t match someone else’s opinion it is almost always thought of as the wrong opinion. We don’t listen anymore, we simply react and shoot off a “hot take” which can be read in so many different ways.

There are times that I long for the days before the Internet. Those days when you would talk about the movie you saw over the weekend with your other friends. And even if you disagreed, you at least had to look someone in their eyes and explain your stance. Those days are gone and everyone is anonymous and hidden behind a keyboard and can say whatever they want without a point or purpose with the benefit of not being found out.

But hey, what do I know. I’m the biggest hypocrite there is most of the time. But at the end of the days, let’s all just have a civil conversation about these things and agree to disagree without saying we’re all idiots about the things we can’t all agree on.

December 19, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Matt’s Take)

Rogue One – Tough

TOUGH

2015 brought about the resurgence of a franchise literally dragging itself out of the fiery pits of Mustafar. “The Force Awakens” was a worldwide phenomenon; it bridged the gap between successful animated fare like “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” and washed the taste out of the mouths of fans still angry and beating their plastic lightsabers on the dead horse that were the Star Wars prequels. Since the Lucasfilm/Disney purchase that was so highly touted/publicized/argued, everything has been coming roses for the Star Wars Universe and its fans. Plus, now anything that can be Star Wars, IS Star Wars. Pet clothing, lawnmowers, coffee pots, I”m sure there are even Star Wars-themed Fleshlights out there. I mean come on, one can dream, can’t they?

My point is that Star Wars has taken over again. Add in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Disney is literally printing money with pictures of Mickey Mouse on it, hey, in a couple of years, the way we are going, that might end up being a legit form of currency.

Oh it’s a great time to be alive if you’re a fanboy of fangirl.

With all the success that Star Wars has had since it came out of the wilderness following the perceived failure that were the prequel films, there are many that wondered; “When will they slip up?” Much like the MCU, there have been many films where people though the shine was coming off, “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” and even “Ant-Man” were films that many can point to where the chinks in the armor were starting to show. And unlike “Star Wars” this was bound to happen with Marvel when introducing characters that were so fringe that it’s almost impossible to find a captive audience, of course “Guardians of the Galaxy” is the exception and not the rule.

This brings me to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” the first in what is bound to be many stories, and the 2nd film in the “One-Star-Wars-Film-A-Year-Until-The-Day-We-Die” series. Of course that might sound a little snarky, but in this day and age if you aren’t snarky you aren’t a member of this horrible, horrible Internet that was been created.

So was “Rogue One” good? Yes……and no. As a “Star Wars” fan, of course I loved this film. It finally brought the “War” to “Star Wars.” Sure, you get to see “The Clone Wars” in the “Prequel-that-won’t-be-named,” and who really wants to relive that….

The premise is simple. A band of bad-ass ruffnecks are tasked with stealing the plans to a planet-destroying weapon and thwarting an evil army. It’s really as simple as that, The only difference between this film and any other action or sci-fi film that has the same exact plot is that it takes place in the Star Wars Universe. I know….it sounds bad to equate it that simply, but that is exactly what we have here. If this was any other film franchise people would be bashing this film into the ground, but since it’s the holy grail of science fiction mythology, the literal scared cow of cinema, the bashing will be light by most reviewers.

With the finished product that is “Rogue One” we can see why the production might have been a little troubled. This is a dark film; this is a war film, and coming off “The Force Awakens” you can see where they tried to lighten the mood with some cameo appearances that I won’t spoil, the gallows humor of K-2SO helps, but nonetheless, this is still a dark film that of course brings up the comparison to “The Empire Strikes Back,” which in the scheme of things, chronologically, works very well for the canon where you have “A New Hope” now book-ended by two very dark entries.

One of my biggest gripes, and this is similar to a gripe that I have with the MCU as well, is the need for audiences to know EVERYTHING about the universe in order to grasp all the intricacies and “wink-wink nod-nod” moments that fans will love, while casual fans will be left out in the cold. I understand that you have to include fan service, but “Rogue One” is the victim of too much fan service without providing an explanation to crucial plot points. One of the biggest is the use of Kyber Crystals and why they are so important to the universe. Never once, in the history of the FILM universe have Kyber Crystals been spoken about, unless I’m mistaken. Yes, I know, they are used to power a Jedi or Sith’s lightsaber. I know that because I KNOW “Star Wars” and do the research. But this is explained more in the prequel book to “Rogue One,” “Catalyst” where Kyber Crystals are explained to a larger degree and how they do more then just power lightsabers.

Characterization was also lacking for the most part. We see glimpses of motivations for characters like Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and the duo of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus (who I would LOVE to see a Star Wars Story about them) are my highlights. But in a film where you pretty much know the end result, I assume this was done on purpose because, SPOILER ALERT, a lot of people don’t make it. With that, to truly understand the motivation for these characters is pretty inconsequential, but that to me, is also a shortcoming of “Rogue One.”

Even with the run-time being two hours and 15 minutes, there were plenty of times where the action could have been dialed back, and we could have gotten to know these characters a little better. Gareth Edwards knows how to do a lot with a little, “Monsters” is a great example of how he was able to generate tension without having to show anything, but with “Rogue One,” he chose to go the route of “let’s blow up a lot of shit” instead of getting intimate with his wonderful characters. Maybe he felt like he was only going to be able to play in this sandbox once so it was balls-to-the-wall, which is understandable, and I might be in the minority of the person liking bigger and better booms and out-of-this-world CG, but characters come first, especially for a film universe that prides itself on it’s mythology.

Overall, for being the first “Star Wars Story” this is a worthy effort despite it’s flaws. This is a Star Wars film for fans, made by fans, and that might be one of the biggest issues. Even with the oversight of Disney, I think the inmates ran the asylum a little too much in “Rogue One” and caused this film to feel disjointed, rushed, and wasted the chance to flesh out new characters and instead chose to do it with a different medium, namely a book and cartoon series, “Catalyst” and “The Clone Wars,” respectively. I can’t knock Disney for trying to tie in their collective mediums, shit, I’m sure there are tons of people buying the e-book or the hardback for “Catalyst” today or binge-watching “Clone Wars,” but I don’t like having to study for a test in order to understand a film as a whole.

I’ll likely give this film another shot in the theater, but unlike my seven screenings of “The Force Awakens” in the theater in 2015/2016, this will be so I can catch all the things I missed. I want to like “Rogue One,” but this was a tough film to get behind, even for the die-hard in me. “Rogue One” is the blueprint, which despite it’s flaws, is still very watchable and will make fans happy as we finally know what happened to the rebels that gave their lives to help the rebellion.

October 14, 2016

Trailer Hot Take: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer #2

Full disclosure: Up to this point, I had really only seen the teaser trailers. I’m trying to go into this newest, or older, Star Wars experience with as little information as possible. Of course, many of us know the fate of the people we are going to meet in “Rogue One” but it’s going to be the journey and emotional attachment that we fell when we all watch this one, two three, four, or however many times you’re going to decide to see this in the theater (I’ll dial it back from my seven times in the theater for “The Force Awakens”).

Without further adieu, let’s breakdown some of the highlights from this newest trailer for “Rogue One.”

It’s always cool to see a moisture evaporator with an Empire transport ship in the background

Looks like Mads is filming a sequel for both Valhalla Rising and Doctor Strange at the same time
Jyn in a cage with an alien friend
Jedi Rock Formations…but on what planet?
Rogue….Rogue One
Krennic speaking with the Dark Lord of the Sith himself
We have hope….Rebellions are built on hope…
This still doesn’t do true justice to what is actually happening here…
Definitely reminds me of a young Zev Senesca
The goosebump moment that we all knew was coming, but still….
Overall, a bone-chilling trailer that should put to sleep most of the bad publicity this film has been getting the last few months. This trailer plays to many emotions, and yes, while some of the dialogue and catchphrases will come off as a tad bit contrite and cliche, that doesn’t mean this is going to be a bad film, not one bit. Is it a Hollywood Blockbuster? Of course, but this trailer sold to me the notion that the people making this little “one-off stories” care about the lore, fans, and the universe that has been expertly crafted, most of the time, since 1977.
April 16, 2015

Simplistic Talk: Things to take away from the newest Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser #2

Sorry “Batman V Superman” you lose again. Sure, it’s over a year until your film is released, but there is only so much dick teasing people can take before they are going to forget about you and move on to the next best thing; and that “next best thing” is obvious; the unveiling of the newest “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer, and awakens is a perfect term for this; it awoke my inner child, and while I’m still a huge cynic, which so many people can attest to, and I’ll still troll to get a rise out of people, that doesn’t take away the fact that next to this year’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” this Jew can’t wait for this Hanukkah gift come Christmas.

Moving on from fan boying, which I really hate to do, the real purpose of this article is to point out some of the more obvious, and maybe one not so obvious thing from this newest trailer, which you can check out right HERE. So here we go:

One of the main things that we learned today is that the desert planet that we thought was Tatooine, is in fact the desert planet of Jakku. Will Tatooine still make an appearance somewhere in this film, or the other two films in this newest trilogy, I’m sure.

As you can see from the picture above we have both a downed X-Wing and a downed Star Destroyer. What we don’t know is when and where this takes place. As we know the Rebellion took place all over the galaxy and there are likely downed ships on every planet. Is this Jakku, Tatooine, or some other unnamed desert planet we don’t know about yet?

We also get our first look at charred remains of Darth Vader’s helmet above. The last we saw of this helmet was during the funeral pyre scene on Endor in “Return of the Jedi.” Was Vader’s helmet found by someone, is it being used in some sort of propaganda by the newly re-formed Galactic Empire, or is it in some sort of war museum.

Next we see our old friend R2-D2, and a metal hand. Conventional wisdom would say this is obviously Luke Skywalker seeing his old friend again. As we know, JJ Abrams likes to play with people’s heads, so could this be a misguide. I’m sure a lot of people lost hands and arms during the Rebellion.

Here is one of the most interesting scenes in the trailer. On the surface we see a lightsaber being handed to someone off screen. If you look closely, however, you will notice that this is some type of alien being handing a lightsaber to someone off-screen. Knowing the species might go a long way in explaining what is possible in this scene.

Here is a better shot of one of our principle characters, Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Issac. It’s clear he is still fighting the good fight for the Rebellion, and having a hell of a time doing it.

Here is our best shot so far of the newest “Sith” threat, Kylo Ren. I especially like his Kanye West glasses, and he pretty much looks like Snake Eyes from “G.I. Joe.” Conventional wisdom would say Ren is a Sith, but could be be something else?

Now, this could just be speculation, but I find this frame to be very interesting. Here we have the newest version of the Galactic Empire symbol overlayed with one of our newest character’s Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. We all think that Rey is supposed to be one of our newest heroes joining the fight against evil, but could this all be a ploy and she is actually a villain, maybe even Kylo Ren? Or could she be a former member of the Empire looking for revenge or penance for her crimes against the Rebels?

In this scene we see Finn, played by John Boyega, in a Stormtrooper uniform with what seems to be a bloody hand print on his helmet. Are Stormtroopers nothing more that roving death squads going from planet to planet exterminating any rebel sympathizers? 

This is one of my favorite things in the teaser; a bad ass silver Stormtrooper with what looks to be a red cloak. It almost seems like a mash-up between an Imperial Guard and the conventional Stormtrooper. The interior also resembles an Imperial Star Destroyer with some cave-like attributes. Has the Empire gone underground?

Here is a better shot of Finn in what resembles either a fly-ass Michael Jackson jacket, or see below:

Could Finn be related in some way to General Panaka from “The Phantom Menace” or be the son or nephew of Gregar Typho, the nephew of Panaka. I know a lot of people want to forget about the prequels and any and everything to do with them, but just going off the fresh gear that Finn is rocking, could he have been an officer in Naboo’s military, or is he incognito while hiding on Jakku.

Here’ a better look at our new TIE Fighter pilots. The red on their helmets and uniforms make we think that the Sith have a tighter grip on the new Empire and have pretty much become one.

Of course here is the still when all the fanboys lost it and creamed their pants; the first look at Han and Chewbacca. 30 years seem to have treated Han well, for the most part, and it’s just an awesome thing to see both of these guys back. The still doesn’t say much but when Han says “Chewie……we’re home….” its not only chilling, but is he talking about being back on the Millenium Falcon, or maybe back in Mos Eisley Cantina. Either way, I’m cool with it.

So that’s about it. What do you guys think. Personally, I’m probably talking out of my ass about most of it, but I’ve provided you with plenty of ammo, so fire away, and may The Force Be With You…

October 31, 2012

Impressive. Most Impressive

IMPRESSIVE

Disney is the illuminati.  I’m convinced.  But before I cower in fear at the thought of a rodent ruling the world, I will sit back in relish the mere possibilities Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilms present.  Disney owns Pixar.  Fine.  Disney owns ABC & ESPN.  Fine.  Disney Owns The Muppets.  Um…okay.  Disney owns Marvel.  Whoa.  Disney owns Star Wars.  Hold up!  Disney owns Indiana Jones.  Wait…what?!?  Disney owns ILM.  Oh, come on!  Disney owns the naming rights to Android phones.  You’re sh*tting me.

So essentially you can wake up one morning, purchase tickets on your Mickey Mouse phone (Literally) for a Pixar film that has Captain America beating up Nazis with Indiana Jones and 67 years later joining  Iron Man and the Avengers as the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is sucked into a wormhole that leads to an encounter with a green, big eared Jedi master in the Dagobah System, then come home and watch SportsCenter hosted by Stuart Scott and Kermit The F*cking Frog!  I think my film brain just orgasmed.  That is the world we are living in now.  And its a great world….That is until Disney begins plans for construction of a fully functioning and operational Death Star in Orlando.  Close your eyes…think about it…then try…just f*cking try..to tell me I’m wrong.

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