Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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.

March 23, 2016

Attention!

Stop the Spoilers

Dear Reviewers & Youtubers,

With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman v Superman, we here at Simplistic Reviews have notice a very big problem. A problem so big that it only leads us to saying…
Most of you are stupid, egotistic, I need to get viewer/reader assholes.

Seriously it needs to stop with the spoilers.

Stop posting reviews with spoilers.

Stop tweeting spoilers.

Stop with the Youtube videos were all you do is spoil everything for everyone.

In regards to Batman v Superman:
A movie that doesn’t come out for 2 more days but seen by a lucky bunch 3 days ago, is already spoiled by them.
Wait 1 week from the opening date. Thats it. Just wait 1 week before spoiling anything.

It is not far to those who do not get the lucky privilege of seeing a film a whole 5 days before it comes out. Take us for an example. We are waiting for the earlier 1 day screening. Already we have had things thrown at us and it hasn’t even come out. We simply can not go on any form of online media because of this douchebaggery. We can’t even go on Instagram do to the need to spoil right away in the mofo comments.  

Wait 1 goddamn week! 
or GFYS


Sincerely,

Planet Earth

December 24, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Matt’s Take) Round 2: Four Viewings Later….

I’ll still keep this one spoiler-free for now, since there still seems to be a handful of people in this galaxy far, far away that still haven’t been able to get to the theater and watch “The Force Awakens.” With that being said, I’ll just chronicle my last three viewings of the newest “Star Wars” installment before I actually release a spoiler-filled review later this week.

Viewing #2 December 18th

Not even 24 hours had passed before I was in the theater for my 2nd go at “The Force Awakens.” This time I went with a buddy from work. The highlight of this viewing was his excitement when a certain character made his triumphant return.

Viewing #3 December 19th

Back in the theater, this time I was with fellow Simplistic Reviewer, DJ Valentine. DJ had also seen the film the night before, so he was going into this film for the 2nd time while I was on round 3. As usual DJ brings some good insight to the film while at the same time being the guy in the theater having fun, namely during the lightsaber fight near the end of the film.

Viewing #4 December 21st

I finally get around to seeing this film with my wife, Nicole, along with her sister and her husband. What I learned that day is that Nicole’s sister had never seen any of the “Star Wars” films outside of maybe a few scenes. I guess sister like sister, because Nicole had never seen a “Star Wars” film before we started dating. The highlights for me on this viewing was seeing my wife’s reaction to a certain shocking bit of the film and of course when we were leaving the theater and she said “again, again, again.” I felt proud that I was able to bring her into this universe and seeing her excitement was worth the price of admission.

Viewing #5 December 22nd

I know this is getting old, and you’re probably saying “What the F*ck is your problem?!” but hey, the movie event of the year…..you know. This time around I went with another friend and his wife, with my friend already having seen the film on the 18th as well. Nothing really noteworthy on this viewing, but this might actually be the first time that I’ve seen a film five times in the theater.

That’s about it for this little mini review.

December 23, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 60) December 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES

On this holiday episode of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast, Matthew’s Judeism is put to the test, Justin continues to try and make sense of the Prequels, DJ laments over Die Hard, and the boys have a hell of a time writing letters to Santa, spinning dreidels and breaking down the finale of Fargo.  All this and more on a Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday Show.


NOTES

Quentin vs Disney
Independence Day 2 Trailer
TMNT 2 Trailer
X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer

MUSIC
Die Hard Score By Michael Kamen
Couple Of Misfits By Burt Ives
Christmas Time Is Here By Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas In Hollis By Run D.M.C.
Ode To Joy By Ludwig van Beethoven

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December 18, 2015

Simplistic Theater: Star Wars -The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI)

George Lucas did it.
Why can’t we?
We figured it was best since today
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
comes out. 
So don’t get mad and if you would like to write out letter to complain, send that mail to
5858 Lucas Valley Road, Nicasio, CA 94946

December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Matt’s Take) Round 1, Opening Thoughts

*This will be more of an experience, as opposed to any type of review/critique of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Pardon some of the course language*

As I plan on seeing this film multiple times over the course of the next few days, I’ll be reviewing this film to varying degrees over the next few days, so just stay with me, as well as my fellow reviewers DJ and Justin, as I’m sure they’ll have plenty to say about this film as well.

Myself and two friends caught the 8:00 pm showing on Thursday, December 17th, and needless to say, the butterflies were pretty heavy for me. The theater was at capacity and there was a lot of energy; you could feel it, like the Force, it was flowing through you.

With a packed theater you expect a lot of cheers; there was one set for the Lucasfilms logo, and to be honest it was a little weird to not hear the old 20th Century Fox fanfare, thinking about it now, it was actually kind of sad.

Silence…..”A long time ago…..in a galaxy far, far away….”

Goosebumps……Episode VII……
……Enter the kid next to me who decides to read the entire scroll……pardon my french….but shut the fuck up kid (more on this kid later)…..
Most of this film I held my hand to my face and was transfixed by what I was watching. I imagine this is what people felt like back in 1977.
New faces; old face, “The Force Awakens” truly is something special and brings so many people together. Of course there were cheers when characters showed up, and much to my chagrin, BB-8 got some of the bigger pops in the audience, but I guess people are suckers for cute robots.
Back to that kid, at one point he moved to a sit next to him that was unoccupied; great. But than he had the gall near the end of the film to ask, “is this almost over?” Again, pardon me, but go fuck yourself kid, don’t you have school tomorrow?
So in a nutshell, this is my completely non-review of “Star Wars” The Force Awakens” and I’ll be back tomorrow with something with a little more meat on it. My friends seemed to enjoy the film as well, and we had a small discussion about what the future might bring, but of course nothing too specific.
With that said; May the Force be with you……and hopefully kid-free.
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.

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…

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