Rise, Rey, Rise Up

There’s a lot going on in The Rise Of Skywalker, and I’m actually having trouble articulating how I feel about this movie. I groaned at a lot of it, cried through more, loved it almost completely. It’s thoroughly predictable, and yet manages to satisfy regardless of that.

I’m not a big lover of twist endings, I think they’re often cheap. The predictability of a formula is not something I consider a fault in narrative. Tropes alone aren’t cheap, though they can be employed cheaply. And The Rise Of Skywalker uses tropes that it’s earned and a few that it hasn’t. It’s a mixed bag of a movie.

Like all Star Wars films it lives and dies on it’s performances. Daisy Ridley gives her strongest in this trilogy, Adam Driver gets less to do than the previous two outings. Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are a damn delight and here’s something that I never ever expected to write, Anthony Daniels really runs away with the thing.

And the score, as you may have heard is incredible. People are calling it the best Williams has done in the series. I don’t know about that. Empire and Phantom Menace are pretty high marks, but it gets close. (I need to listen to it without the film.) But it’s very good. Rey’s theme and Kylo’s theme both get mixed with The Imperial March and Force Theme’s in ways that are wonderful. Leia’s theme is also pretty prominent.

I really, really enjoyed myself.

Rankings

  1. Knive’s Out
  2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  3. Jo Jo Rabbit
  4. Frozen 2
  5. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  6. Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
  7. Avengers: Endgame
  8. Rocketman
  9. Detective Pikachu
  10. Zombieland: Double Tap
  11. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  12. Downton Abbey
  13. Joker

Trailers

The Jungle Cruise: This trailer does not have enough puns. It otherwise looks acceptable.

Onward: I really can’t wait for this. It looks so lovely and fun and kind of scary. Really great.

Wonder Woman 84: GIVE ME YOUR TIME TRAVEL SHENANIGANS AND CHRIS PINE IN A FANNY PACK!!!!

Anway, y’all ready for Spoilers!  THEY’RE HERE NOW

 

 

 

 

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Last Friday night I sauteed a chicken breast, and boiled some spaghetti, popped a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and settled in to watch The Force Awakens for the first time in quite a while.

I mentioned the meal because I was so excited to watch the movie again and I wanted to breath it in and fall in love all over again. I was going on a date with Star Wars. 

I fell in love all over again. I really love this movie. I can see where the criticisms come from (though people criticizing a franchise that’s always been about remixing tropes and archetypes for doing it again feels like a reach…) but I can’t help but love it.

So much of that love belongs to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who are both so unfathomably wonderful. Rey and Finn aren’t particularly deep characters on the page. They are, as Luke, Han and Leia before them, archetypes, two searching orphans looking for home and belonging, and they find it in each other.

This would be wooden and dull and frightening if it were given to two actors with less charisma and less chemistry. Daisy and John click well together, so well, in fact, that they’re instantly connected, but they feel like family, not lovers, which is rare in a Hollywood blockbuster, and so so worth celebrating.

And then there’s the Kylo Ren issue. I think that Kylo is a pretty good villain, if pale in comparison to Darth Vader, but that’s kind of an impossible standard and is also the point of Kylo Ren. He’s not supposed to measure up, but he’s trying desparately to get there. The pressure of being from the greatest family in the galaxy broke him, and he reached for quickest connection to that legacy. It’s reiterated over and over again in Star Wars that the Dark Side is powerful and it’s quick. The light side requires patience discipline and letting go, allowing The Force to do the work. Ben Solo lost that battle because of the weight of expectation placed on his shoulders so he gripped to quick easy power.

THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.

And, I saved it for last, you guys, I promised I wouldn’t spend this whole era dwelling on Poe Dameron, so I’m going to put it up here, and leave it at this. I am in awe of this character, who was shaped largely because of the actor they wanted playing him. (Oscar Isaac said he’d do it but not if he died.) Who became a focal point of the series because he was popular, and who models a kind of dedication and joy rarely seen in this trope of character. The hotshot pilot is supposed to be cocky, obnoxious, and out for himself, not quietly confident, deeply dedicated to his cause, and kind beyond reason. You keep waiting for Poe to be a dick. And then he isn’t.

I love Poe.

Alright, next week we talk about The Last Jedi, which should be great because no one on the internet ever talks about The Last Jedi right? We’re wading into new territory.

 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…GULP.

Let The Past Die

The Last Jedi

 

*SPOILERS FOR DAYS*

 

 

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Last Jedi is a strange movie. There’s no getting around that. It’s paced oddly. (Poorly in certain spots) It’s full of weird looking creatures and off center character beats, and more weirdo philosophy than the seven movies that preceded it combined.

It’s also Carrie Fisher’s best performance of the five that she’s in, a fitting goodbye to a legend that we all love, allows Mark Hamill to play the comedy that he’s excellent at, deepens both Kylo Ren and Rey, and executes a B-Plot with exactly 0 white guys. (Seriously, the B-Plot heist is centered around Poe, Finn, new character Rose, Leia, new character Vice Admiral Holdo, and a surprise appearance by Benicio Del Toro.)

I need to see the movie again before I really evaluate it. But I enjoyed it immensely, if only for it’s truly spectacular moments. (This is why I want to see it again. I felt similarly about Revenge Of The Sith, so I want to watch it a bit more calmly.) Rey and Kylo fighting off Snoke’s guards after Kylo assasinates him. The force connection between Rey and Kylo convincing each of them that the other can be turned. Luke’s final conversation with Yoda. (Who after 40+ years is finally fed up with the Skywalker boys and their shit) The Star Wars version of the battle of Helm’s Deep. (Just when you thought there was nothing left from Tolkien for this series to mine!) Holdo’s sacrifice. Leia using the force to survive in space. That final moment between Luke and Leia. Luke brushing his shoulder off after a barrage of bullets in the battle.

The plot is what it is. There’s a maguffin, there’s a confrontation, there is, truly the best saber battle we’ve seen yet. The performances are strong, the character beats mostly work. The themes discussed including legacy, corruption and hope are well explored. It’s way too long. There’s definitely fat that could be trimmed, but for the most part it’s worth it.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say. I’ve got plenty of family time to log this week, and talking Star Wars with my family is my favorite thing.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  5. Battle Of The Sexes
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  9. Thor: Ragnarok
  10. Justice League
  11. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  12. The Dark Tower
  13. Cars 3
  14. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The Special Features Awaken

I got home from work on Friday with two goal, exercise (I’m working out, either running or doing a Darebee work out everyday in April…) and then settle in and watch some stuff. Really I was thinking, “I can get into the DVR things that I need to clean out” but my TV in my bedroom was set to my Amazon Fire Stick rather than cable and there was a big old banner for The Force Awakens, so I bought it, and excercised during the first half hour and then settled on the couch to finish the movie and watch all of the special feature.

You guys already know how I feel about this movie. (If you don’t, here, you learn how I like it a whole heck of a lot!)

But the special features were new and I enjoyed them even more! (If that’s possible) The series of shorts as well as the big making of documentary were a lot of fun.

Because I followed the movie so closely in it’s run up and the weeks following it’s release I didn’t learn a lot of new things, but the bits I did learn were great.

First of all, it was deeply interesting to here the skepticism of the original 3…None of them were terribly interested in doing this movie and JJ Abrams had to talk them into it. I think we can all be grateful that they did. Particularly Harrison Ford, who spoke about Han never getting the ending Ford wanted for him. (Death, Harrison Ford really wanted Han Solo to die…and he got his wish!) Carrie Fisher spoke about having trouble getting back into acting, as she hadn’t in nearly a decade.. Mark Hamill wasn’t sure why Luke would have any bearing on a new story.

But my favorite little detail was how clearly they didn’t expect the fandom to explode over Poe Dameron. The segment about casting Oscar Isaac seems a good deal more thrown together than the rest. They describe him as “The Han of The Piece” which is true though narratively he far more resembles Leia, and Finn resembles Han.

But he is the Han in the sense that like Harrison Ford, this movie made Oscar Isaac everyone’s favorite actor all of a sudden.

Poe Dameron

Why wouldn’t he be?

I spent a good chunk of Thursday night talking about how wonderful he is with Aless, Jess and Alex. So, that’s important!

Anyway, I recommend the special features. The Digital edition is $20, which isn’t bad. I’m not sure how the Blu-Ray is priced, because I’m not buying it! The end!

It’s Calling To You

OK, so, I’ll start off by saying simply that I really loved, The Force Awakens. I thought it was funny, smart, well constructed with fun new characters and great action.

I was thrilled to see old friends and happy to meet the new ones. (Rey is everything you’d hope she’d be. So is BB-8) The new Cantina song as written by Lin-Manuel Miranda sounded like…well, I was listening for it, so I absolutely heard his touches, but if you didn’t know, I could see not hearing it.

You should know that I went with a cranky old fanboy who hates everything (Hi John! Thanks for coming and for paying me for your ticket.) and he did not like it.

Well, he liked seeing Han Solo again.

But I loved it. I feel like by now you all probably have some feel for my taste, I’ve been reviewing movies for three years here.

OK, so from now on we’re into spoiler land. I warned you.

 

SPOILER; SPOILER; SPOILER

 

BEN MOTHER FUCKING SOLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Organa Solo? Organa Skywalker Solo?)

Kylo Ren, is the so of Han Solo and Princess Leia and he turned to the darkside for, reasons? It’s not elaborated on, but his name is Ben (I love this, shocking no one). And he is strong with The Force, and his parents sent him off to train with his Uncle Luke, because he was TOO POWERFUL, and then he went dark, and now he’s well on his way to become a full on Sith.

Killing his father did a lot towards that.

Yes Han is dead. Yes, I cried. Yes, you see it coming a mile away. It’s fine. It’s good.  Escaping from Harrison Ford’s monster presence was going to be impossible moving forward.

We only get one “May The Force Be With You,” and it comes from Leia to Rey.

Rey does the Jedi Mind Trick. We still don’t know who she is, just that she was abandoned by her family. I still think she might be a Skywalker. Or maybe a Kenobi. Or maybe she really is no one.

Poe Dameron is the SHIT. I love him. He’s a straight up good guy, and doesn’t quite get enough to do, but I kept waiting for him to come back around.

And then there’s Finn. We learn a little about how the Storm Troopers, post clone, are recruited, basically they’re taken as children and trained. They don’t have names, just numbers. It’s Poe who names Finn. It’s very effective. 

So much 0f the language of action films comes from Star Wars it was very cool to see it use the language of other stuff. Notably, the final scene, has Rey, climbing a mountain to reach Luke. Who is only in that scene. And never speaks. This is a huge let down, but the scene itself is right from Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings and it’s perfect.

I can’t touch on everything that I loved, but the one thing that really stood out to me was the use of Anakin/Luke’s light saber. Rey finds it in possesion of Mas, the motion cap character played by Lupita N’Yongo, and upon touching it has a vision. Later, Kylo Ren, tries to take it from her, knowing that it’s his legacy. (He’s trying to live up to being Vader’s grandson. Something tells me some one is BAD AT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE END OF STORIES, Mr. Ben Solo…Organa…Solo…Skywalker…)

Anyway, a chosen blade is not a mythological pool that Star Wars ever really played in, so I’m happy to see them dive into it. Captain Phasma, also great. Carrie Fisher’s return was delightful, and R2-D2 and C-3P0 also great. Overall, it was good. Ranks somewhere high above the prequels and just below Jedi. As far as blatant nostalgia trips from this movie season go. It’s better than Jurassic World and not as good as Creed.

 

 

 

 

END OF SPOILERS

Rankings

  1. The Martian
  2. Straight Outta Compton
  3. Creed
  4. Crimson Peak
  5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  6. Bridge of Spies
  7. Mockingjay Part 2
  8. The Man From UNCLE
  9. Spectre
  10. Ant-Man
  11. Mad Max: Fury Road
  12. Inside Out
  13. Trainwreck
  14. Tomorrowland
  15. Jurassic World
  16. Ricki And The Flash
  17. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  18. Minions
  19. Fantastic Four
  20. Terminator: Genisys
  21. Entourage
  22. Pitch Perfect 2

Trailers

Kung Fu Panda 3 – This is a movie that exists. I sort of forgot the second one existed.

Star Trek Beyond: Please be good. This cast deserves good. They’re great.

World of Warcraft: I know absolutely nothing about this world. But Joe and a few others I know assure me that it looks awesome. I defer to them on this.

Idependence Day: Resurgence: This is a damn good trailer and I want it to be a good movie. I’m still pissed on Mae Whitman’s behalf though. She should be in this movie.

Captain America: Civil War: Poor Bucky, Poor Steve, and I SWEAR TO GOD IF THEY KILL RHODEY I WILL CUT SOMEONE! (But not really…but maybe a little…)

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice: I will not be deterred. I will not dislike this movie. I will love it. I will love it if it kills me.