Mark Hamill

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 18, 2015

Countdown to the Force Awakens (Episode VI) – Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

So it all comes down to this; one final review that literally brings us to the moment people have been clamoring for probably since 1983. Granted, I still love “Revenge of the Sith” despite the reservations of my cohorts at Simplistic Reviews, so I’ve only been waiting for another “Star Wars” movie for ten years. Without further adieu, let’s slide right into “Return of the Jedi” from 1983.

“Jedi” picks up soon after the events of “The Empire Strikes Back.” A rescue mission has brought our cast of characters to the lair of the vile criminal gangster, Jabba the Hutt on Tattoine to free Han Solo, still frozen in carbonite.

All goes well until Leia, disguised as the bounty hunter Boushh, is found freeing Han from his carbonite prison and becomes Jabba’s personal cuddle buddy. However, when all seems lost, enter Luke Skywalker, now a full-blown Jedi Knight to the rescue. But of course, he is captured as well after nearly meeting his demise at the hands of a Rancor.

But like all good plans, there is a third man on the inside; that man is Lando Calrissian, the administrator of this rescue. After traveling out to the Dune Sea of Tattoine; Luke, Han, and Chewbacca all learn their fates that they will be fed to the Sarlacc. Springing into action, Luke is able to free his friends, avoid being eaten, and destroys Jabba’s Sail Barge, but only after Leia offs him herself.

After the daring rescue, Luke decides he needs to head back to Dagobah to pay Yoda a visit while the rest of the crew heads off to plan their next move against The Empire. Han, Leia, Chewbacca receive a briefing from Rebel Leaders that a new Death Star is in the works and that the shield generator is hidden on one of the moons of Endor, where Luke re-joins them after the death of Yoda. The adventure continues…..

While on Endor, the group encounter Stormtroopers on Speeder bikes, but more importantly, they encounter the fuzzy inhabitants of Endor, the Ewoks. Luckily before Han, Luke, and the rest of the team become dinner, Luke makes them see the error of their ways and makes the ever-worried, C-3PO as a golden god which the Ewoks worship.

After being freed, Luke decides it’s time to face his father, Darth Vader, again, while Han, Leia, Chewbacca and the Ewoks assault the shield generator with the rest of the Rebel fleet ready to attack the Death Star.

Captured by Vader, Luke is taken to the Death Star to meet with Emperor Palpatine who tries to tempt him to follow his father’s path to the Dark Side. Luke fights his father in an epic lightsaber duel, but rebuffs The Emperor who tells him to strike Vader down. Finally seeing the error of his says, Vader dispatches Palpatine while saving Luke and redeeming himself in the process.

Meanwhile, on Endor, the shield generator is shutdown and the assault on the Death Star begins as Lando leads the charge in the Millennium Falcon. Needless to say, good prevails and evil is defeated, while Anakin and Luke reconcile in his dying breathe. It all ends with a grand Ewok celebration and Lando clapping his hands.

That’s the film in a nutshell, and if you got through my plot ramblings, I’ll make my thoughts on this film quick.

While “Jedi” isn’t, and will never, eclipse the genius that is “Empire Strikes Back” if you go back and revisit this film over and over there are some incredible things going on. From the relationship between Vader, Luke, and the Emperor, which looking back is such an important part of this film, to Luke’s decision to finally face his father and try to bring him back to the light, and of course the final words of Yoda before he becomes one with The Force, there is some powerful stuff, but on the other hand……

…….Ewoks. Yes, Ewoks. You can certainly tell this was a George Lucas decision to include more bankable and economic-generating creatures in a galaxy far, far away, but of course close enough to a Toys R’ Us. Maybe if I was of an age when this film came out, I’m sure I would have been begging my parents for a stuffed Ewok, but looking at it now from an objective film-goer, the Ewoks rank up there with the Gungans on useless and annoying “Star Wars” creatures. Sure, stone me for comparing Ewoks with Gungans, but in reality it was Chewbacca that got on that AT-ST and helped defeat the Stormtroopers, not the Ewoks.

Ranking as my #3 (current) film in the “Star Wars” film franchise, “Jedi” has it’s share of great scenes and high adventure, but there are just enough quirks and overall annoying creatures that keep this from being #2 on the list.

With that being said, we are here….the moment many have been waiting for for ten long years….The Force has awaken….catch all of you soon.

December 17, 2015

Countdown to the Force Awakens (Episode V) – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

APEX

Why do we love The Empire Strikes Back?  A film that is universally considered the best Star Wars film ever.  A film considered one of the best sci-fi/fantasy films ever.  Is it because we’re nerds?  No.  Well…yeah…but it’s much more than that.

Maybe it’s because the great John Williams, from the Imperial March to the Han and Leia Love Theme, created a score that is not only the oxygen of this universe but a constant manipulator of our heartstrings even today.

Maybe it’s because of the Millennium Falcon encapsulates cool, freedom, adventure, and hope with every bank turn and asteroid avoiding barrel roll.

Maybe it’s because Jim Henson and Frank Oz, two men responsible for bringing to life a majority of our imaginary friends for decades, brought to life yet another creature with more pathos and iconography than many seasoned actors…all while speaking in some strange form of pig Latin.

Maybe it’s because Darth Vader, one of the top 3 best cinematic villains of all time, is more villainous and oddly clever in Empire than he is in any other film in the series…but still manages to make us feel for him at the end?

Maybe it’s because the romance between Han and Leia was unconventional, confrontational, mean spirited…and still one of the best, most heartfelt and tragic couplings in cinema history…especially since it was originally supposed to end with Han dying.

Maybe it’s because it really took the time it did on the self-actualization and development of Luke Skywalker from a meek farm-boy to a confident and capable Jedi upstart…something that would almost never happen today.

Maybe it’s because it had one of the most jaw dropping, franchise-altering, twists of all time during a time where twists weren’t a cliched Hollywood trope.

Maybe it’s because the camaraderie and love felt between Han and Luke and Leia and Chewie and the Droids didn’t seem like some manufactured thing for a movie.  It felt obviously genuine.  So genuine, you didn’t need to hear Han and Luke say it when they spoke to each other for the last time in that icy Hoth hangar bay

You didn’t need to understand the yelping of Chewie when he took those wookiee arms of his, primarily used for tearing off droid arms, and snatched Luke up in a hug.

You didn’t need to hear Han tell Leia “I love you too” before he was frozen in carbonite. We knew just like he did.

Maybe it’s because George Lucas had the foresight and humility to relinquish the reigns of his creation to another director who had a better understanding of how to bring the heart out of the film.

To be honest, it’s all those things and more.  The Empire Strikes Back is the bar.  It is the very APEX of the Star Wars universe and countless childhoods.  It is what every sci-fi adventure film has aspired to be as good as…but not presume to ever be better than.  Because there is nothing that will eclipse The Godfather…nothing that will eclipse Psycho…nothing that will eclipse The Shawshank Redemption…and NOTHING that will eclipse The Empire Strikes Back.  It will forever hold a place in our heart.  AND I DIDN’T EVEN MENTION HOW AWESOME LANDO IS!!!!

Accept Captain Needa’s apology…watch out for mynocks…never tell me the odds…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

December 15, 2015

Countdown to the Force Awakens (Episode IV) – Star Wars: A New Hope – Episode IV

Star Wars: A New Hope – Episode IV
2hr/1min | Action/Adventure/Fantasy | 1977

Magical

In 1977, with a cast of mostly unknowns, the world changed forever. An unknown film called, Star Wars took our imagination and times it by 10. A simple story that became iconic, Star Wars: A New Hope is simply put, Magical. From its cast, to its look, the scope of this film which is just incredible. When you present this film in front of a kid’s eyes, it is almost like a magician preforming tricks. Even now it still kinda comes off like that.
I can’t really review this film because there is a power, a force if you will that is more important then a review. Star Wars is not just a film, for some its life and for others it was their youth. This film is a magical experience.
And it really is amazing just how magical A New Hope is. When I first saw it as a kid in the 90’s my mind was captured by its force. Everything about Episode IV is amazing. When I say that I’m not talking about how it looks or the story, because that stuff is just part of it. But to get this film made is a magical thing in itself. At the time everyone was passing on it. Why not the story on paper probably comes off crazy right?. Imagine reading a script with a Wookie, some droids, the force and a death star. Everyone was probably going, “What the hell is a damn Wookie??!!” 
Yet for $11 million in the 70’s to get this film made is something to behold. Even today this could not be done. Keep in mind as well original ideas were easier to sell back then then today. Thats true, today it’s ether a sequel or remake.  But nonetheless that is still a feat to accomplish.
Star Wars wouldn’t be made today it just wouldn’t
A New Hope is an incredible film to watch. It doesn’t come off cheap or jokey. It’s one of those films that the entire time you’re watching you are just in awe over it. And to think this is the second best film in the saga, and the next one is even more amazing is just wow.

Its sound design is fantastic, sets are incredible, its actors feel perfect and the story is simple.  At any given time, if one of these gears in filmmaking failed the film would have been a joke and bombed big time.

Let’s not forget John Williams killing it with that theme song! Tell me the hair on your neck doesn’t respond to that song.

The truth is I am not a big Star Wars fan. I watched Star Trek more often then Star Wars yet Star Wars is more embed into my youth. From toys to lunchboxes, Star Wars was there. Of course I had many lightsaber battles, because you know Star Wars! Without A New Hope none of that would of happened.
To watch A New Hope as a child your mind is given a B12 shot and sent into a world of pure imagination. Every kid, boy or girl, since 1977 on has had Star Wars in their life at one part. Star Wars changed the filmmaking world for the better, including the life of a kid.
and that is magical.

October 15, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1993: Body Bags

BODY BAGS: UN-FILLING

91 mins | Horror/Sci-Fi anthology | 1993

HBO had Tales from the Crypt, Showtime had nothing. But that all changed on August 8th 1993, Body Bags an anthology TV movie aired on Showtime…and that was it.

A star studded of a cast came together to make an extremely un-filling 91 minutes. Tales from the Crypt had the Crypt Keeper hosting its episodes, Body Bags had “The Coroner” played fantastically by the great John Carpenter. Yes I know I’m comparing apples and oranges, TV show with TV movie but clearly this is what Showtime had in mind. They had the power to do something unique but instead came up short.

The three best things are John Carpenter playing The Coroner, who is the most entertaining piece in this puzzle of a film. The second is the first story, “The Gas Station” which is a solid story that sets you up to be disappointed. The third is the cast, a balls to the wall of this guy and that comes up short. I liked this cast alot. It’s a shame they didn’t make more, it would of been fun to see where it goes with others making special appearances.

“The Morgue”
John Carpenter as The Coroner
Tom Arnold as Morgue Worker #1
Tobe Hooper as Morgue Worker #2

Is the glue that holds everything together. The Coroner is the Crypt Keeper here hosting the stories in a flat out entertaining performance by John Carpenter.

“The Gas Station”
Robert Carradine as Bill
Alex Datcher as Anne
Wes Craven as Pasty Faced Man
Sam Raimi as Dead Bill
David Naughton as Pete
Lucy Boryer as Peggy
George Buck Flower as Stranger
Molly Cheek as Divorcee
Only story that makes me feel like I didn’t waste my time. The others aren’t horrible but the this one just works. It’s a simple slasher, which paired with guests set the bar way too high. Seeing the likes of Craven, Raimi and Carradine peeked my interest. But I guess its just too good for this film, because sadly the others don’t come any close to “The Gas Station”.

“Hair”
Stacy Keach as Richard Coberts
David Warner as Dr. Lock
Sheena Easton as Megan
Dan Blom as Dennis
Gregory Nicotero as Man with Beautiful Hair
Kim Alexis as Woman with Beautiful Hair
Deborah Harry as The Nurse

Stacy Keach plays a guy who isn’t happy with his thinning hair. Sheena Easton says no and she loves him anyway. But it’s just too depressing 🙁 …He tries a few comical treatments but nothing helps. I’m pretty sure this whole story was suppose to be the funny one then again it was the 90’s. And let me say its very 90’s, very very 90’s.

He see a commercial and decides to try it. “Dr. Lock” played by David Warner (Titanic, Tron, The Omen) is the doc that can help. He asks Stacy what kind of hair he’d like using a 90’s computer generated program, you know how that looks without me saying anymore. Keach picks the Stallion. Yep it is its name, long black hair (see picture). And the whole things was done over night, without surgery! Sounds to good to be true hun? Well it is… And when you find out why, it feels like a copout. When its revealed I could hear myself say, “Really?!” I didn’t care much for it but I did like it more then the “Eye”. “Hair” was so bad yet I honestly think I liked this story about a guys hair more then the guy and his eye.

“Eye”
Mark Hamill as Brent Matthews
Twiggy as Cathy Matthews
John Agar as Dr. Lang
Roger Corman as Dr. Bregman
Charles Napier as Baseball Team Manager
Eddie Velez as Baseball Player


Were “Hair” was about hair I bet you can’t figure out what “Eye” is about?…NOPE

Your wrong it is about…

A eye. Let that settle in a bit. We have a film that is made up of three stories. Two are about something on your body. Not much to pick from apparently. “The Gas Station” stands out for its pacing and the fact its different then the others. “Hair” and “Eye” are about two guys getting transplants. And its goes wrong, like it feels like they didn’t try. “The Gas Station” isn’t a perfect film, but the “Eye” and “Hair” come off like they ran out of ideas and gave it to their 8 year old son to write. When you have three films it should feel like three and not two.

“Eye” is about a baseball player with an annoying accent. His wife played by Twiggy losses her American accent a few times and that too becomes annoying. Mark Hamill here is somewhat a joy to watch. The thing is he has always been but here I feel he was wasted. When he gets into a bad car accident in which his right eye is destroyed. He ends up losing it but receives one from a donor. The donor ends up being a serial killer who killed woman and had sex with them. This eye begins to take over the good old southern wholesome baseball player who was making his way to the top.

And thats it. Still feel hungry for more don’t you? Yeah thats how I felt.

“The Gas Station” = Solid

“Hair” = Short

Should of been left out. Or give us more. I didn’t mind the story but there could of been more, the story came up short for me on creativity.

“Eye” = Weak

Like the “Hair” I think it should of been left out. What would of been cool if they connected it to “The Gas Station” and its serial killer. Maybe that was his eye, sure it sounds like Im doing a copout but at least it’s something.

Because what we got in the end was very un-filling.

Kinda felt this way after the film but The Gas Station saved me

May 25, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast Batman 75th Anniversary Special

In honor of The Dark Knight’s 75th Anniversary, the Simplistic Reviews Podcast got the whole gang together to talk about the legacy of Batman.  Now you’re probably wondering…what makes that different from any other show?  Ummmm…not much.  Although, the boys do hold an NFL style Draft of Batman villains who they think could kill the Caped Crusader.  Afterwards the draft grades are given out by a very special guest arbiter brought in to class up and beautify the proceedings…Matthew’s very own lovely wife Nicole Stewart.  No, she does not show any favoritism.  Yes, their marriage nearly comes apart at the seams.  No, Justin, DJ, and Neal don’t try to help matters.    The boys discuss Batfleck’s new Batsuit and also pick out their own favorite versions of Batman and Joker on a very special Simply The Best segment.

Grab your cape, your cowl, your shark repellant, and your Bat credit card and enjoy the show!

Show Notes:
Bat Shark Repellant
Batman Scares Deadshot
Batfleck Suit
Mr. Freeze Saying Nora
Trailer For Batman TAS Episode Over The Edge
Batman Rogues Gallery Pre-Draft Rankings

Music Notes:
The Best By Tina Turner
Batman ’89 Theme By Danny Elfman
Batman Begins Theme By Hans Zimmer
Batman ’66 Intro Theme By Neal Hefti
American Idol Theme By Cathy Dennis
Monday Night Football Theme By Johnny Pearson

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