[REVIEW] ‘Star Wars Ep 9: ‘The Rise of Skywalker’: Corny Fun Space Adventure to End the Saga

My Star Wars Background-

(I tried my best to keep this spoiler free but if you are someone who wants to know literally nothing about the film than see the movie first).

Sitting down to write this review of  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feels like a hopeless endeavor. If I like it than I am a Disney shill. If I hate it than I’m a nostalgia tinged hater. However, I am going to show some confidence in you my readers and trust that you will be reasonable.

Let’s start out talking about what I want from a Star Wars movie. My favorite from the series is the original film now titled Star Wars Ep 4: A New Hope. I get that Empire Strikes Back is the deeper entry with stunning cinematography and quite possibly the best twist in the history of film. I just happen to think that A New Hope is more of a good time. A New Hope is an adventure that makes me want to stand up and cheer as the good guys blow up the death star! I like getting to know our characters and keeping the narrative small and succinct.

Being I watch Star Wars to have a rousing space adventure you can imagine my disappointment in the last few entries from Disney. I didn’t care for Rogue One and especially didn’t like Star Wars Ep 8: The Last Jedi (Solo: A Star Wars Story was entertaining but was hurt by the most annoying droid in the history of Star Wars L3). I know some people love it but I disagreed with most of the choices they made especially with how they treated Luke and Leia. To be honest it bummed me out.

Rise of Skywalker-

EP9-103413_R

All that said, let’s talk about the new film Star Wars Ep 9: The Rise of Skywalker. As is expected with Star Wars these days some people will not like this film, and I can understand why. It’s a flawed, messy film but it recaptures the spirit of adventure I love in Star Wars. There’s a corny innocence to the film I missed in The Last Jedi and it made me happy watching it.

Just as in A New Hope there are a lot of moments in Rise of Skywalker that will make you want to cheer as good defeats evil and our scrappy band of resistance fighters are aided at just the right moment. That kind of action and comradery is Star Wars to me.  Again to use A New Hope as an example it is full of cheesy lines, obvious heroes and villains and it even ends with a medal ceremony for the good guys.

rise of skywalker4

That’s the kind of spirit Rise of Skywalker aims for and achieves. Defenders of The Last Jedi will probably be disappointed because a lot of that film is retconned. Honestly I think you hardly need to watch it any more. At the very least almost every divisive element is either forgotten about or barely touched on, which was fine by me!

They also did a great job handling the passing of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Through mostly leftover scenes from The Force Awakens they were able to make her a bigger part that I anticipated and it was a nice way to leave her after my frustrations with her treatment in The Last Jedi.

They also try their best to wrap everything up from 9 movies (an impossible task) and throw in a lot of fan service, which the most part, I enjoyed. For example, the ewoks make a brief appearance for no reason except to say to fans ‘oh look at those fun ewoks’. I know some will be annoyed by this but I thought it was fun. This whole movie was corny, light, energetic Star Wars.

It’s a Lot of Plot

rise of skywalker

The downside to Rise of Skywalker is there are a lot of characters and plot. For example, just in villains there is Kylo Ren, Hux, Palpatine and General Pryde played by Richard E Grant. Tons of pre-existing characters  get storylines and we have new characters like Zorri Bliss played by Kerri Russell or Jannah played by Naomi Ackle who make no impression and seem superfluous to the story.

Lando, Chewie, C3PO, Leia, Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe, Finn, Hux, Palpatine, the list goes on all have storylines and it feels crowded for one movie. You also don’t have as long to enjoy a moment because you are swifted off to the next plotpoint that must be wrapped up at the end of the film.

Even though I enjoyed the corniness there are definitely some reveals that push the limit, and I am sure do not hold up under deep scrutiny (expect many a raging fan video to come out about A LOT in this movie and they won’t be wrong).

An Era is Done

However, Rise of Skywalker was still a fun adventure where the good guys beat the bad guys with great music, energetic action and brisk pacing which kept me engaged. They retconned what I wanted  and ended the Skywalker saga in a place I am happy with.

Again, it’s not perfect but it’s a pretty entertaining time at the movies, so I’m satisfied.

7 out of 10

smile worthy

 

Advertisements

Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

Hello my fine readers! Let me take you back to a simpler time. A time when Stars Wars: The Force Awakens had been released and it was one of the most memorable and exhilarating theatrical experiences of my life. I know many have since found flaws with the film, but I still love it. It is what I like in a Star Wars movie. I want pulpy space adventure. The kind of film where you get out of your seat and cheer at the end. To be perfectly frank, I don’t want gritty war stories or fantasy sagas with hologramming and other magic. This is why the original Star Wars film (now called A New Hope) was always my favorite. It is a pulpy space adventure that I cheer along with when our merry group of rebels defeat the bad guys. It’s as simple as that. Empire Strikes Back is the best made of the Star Wars movies but if we are just talking about my favorites, I prefer the original Star Wars.

Anyway, I bring all of this up to explain why I enjoyed the saga’s latest offering Solo: A Star Wars Story. This rather light diversion may be a disappointment to those who enjoyed the more heady previous 2 films, but for me this was a welcome return to the Star Wars that I love. (For the record I did not like Rogue One and I was mixed on Last Jedi).

Most of us know about the rocky road that Solo: A Star Wars Story had in production, but I think it was a good move hiring Ron Howard. He is what I would call an ‘old school director’: meaning he isn’t trying to be edgy or groundbreaking. He knows how to make an entertaining, crowd-pleasing blockbuster, and that’s who I think needs to be making Star Wars movies. That’s what I want at least, and that’s what he has done with Solo.

Alden Ehrenreich has the unenviable task of taking over for Harrison Ford in the lead role of Han Solo, and I must own I never bought that he was the Han Solo I know and love. I didn’t feel that way for any of the returning characters except for Chewbacca who is portrayed by Joonas Suotamo instead of Peter Mayhew.

However, this was not a barrier in my enjoyment of the film. I kind of look at it as various actors playing Ebeneezer Scrooge. They are all very different, but I can still enjoy the basic character of Scrooge and his reformation (I have reviewed over 30 versions of Christmas Carol if you doubt me on that!)

The main appeal of this film is the heist action set pieces that clip along with just enough fan service to be enjoyable. Han Solo is kind of like Aladdin in a way. He lies and steals to survive but is loyal and sweet at the end of the day. At the beginning of the film he is with his love Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke- who is way better in this than in Terminator Genisys!). They get separated and then are back together throughout the film. Then he meets Chewie, Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover, Tobias Beckett played by Woody Harrelson and a crime lord named Dryden Vos played by Paul Bettany.

I won’t give any spoilers but it is pretty simple. The team are asked to steal something for Beckett and the movie is a series of misadventures around the theft of those items. The energetic action sequences entertained me and were boosted by terrific music by John Powell and beautiful production design and cinematography by Bradford Young.

Sadly there are major problems with Solo: A Star Wars Story I must address. First of all, it is way too long. This movie should be under 2 hours. The original Star Wars movie was 121 minutes and that had to set up an entire universe, mythology and lore. This is does not have near that burden and is 135 minutes! As you can imagine from that run time the pacing is an issue. The beginning feels drawn out and a bit choppy and then when we get to the various action set-pieces it picks them. Then there is a point where the Kessell Run is done and they have delivered the stolen goods. The movie should have ended there. It was a natural stopping point and would have left our heroes on a victorious note. But it goes on for another 35 minutes and even introduces new characters at that late point, which did not work at all.

Also, there is a problem with a droid named L3-37. She is presented as a companion droid for Lando, but she bothered me greatly. I have no problem with messages or activism in Star Wars but it has to come from an authentic and natural place. If it doesn’t it comes off as forced and patronizing. Unfortunately L3 was the latter. She is a droid concerned with equal rights for droids (think Dobby in Harry Potter)- a worthy goal. The problem is she yelled and screamed her case in times that any sensible character would know is fruitless. You are not going to be able to fight for equal rights in the middle of an action scene. This makes it feel, like I said, inauthentic and forced. And when a character preaching social justice is inauthentic and forced, it is very grating. As a woman it doesn’t make me feel represented to have a character that is unbelievable, cloying and one-note. In fact, it is kind of insulting when writers feel the only way to portray a minority viewpoint is in such a shrill, awkward way.

To make matters worse they make L3 a permanent part of Star Wars canon in a very meaningful way, which I was not a fan of. (Also it kind of undermines her entire message and makes her a slave for all of the history of future Star Wars films, which is weird). I also found it hard to believe a character like Lando would be attached to a droid like L3.  For all the praise Donald Glover is getting, we don’t see him that much (he doesn’t make an appearance until an hour in). And I did not think he even liked being around L3 (I mean who would want to be around such a droid?…) and certainly not have a deep and meaningful connection. Despite Donald Glover’s charm, there was no chemistry between the two characters.

I can appreciate wanting to have an activist droid and wanting to make Star Wars more socially conscious but it has to be written with more of a deft hand for it to be effective. Jar Jar Binks is a super annoying character but at least he has a role and purpose aside from being an activist. He ends up getting his people, the Gungans, to fight with the rebellion and takes the Jedi to meet them. L3 was just a sidekick fighting for equal rights! That’s not enough to make an interesting character. Plus, Jar Jar was an attempt at comic relief and some kids found him funny. There is nothing funny about L3. So yes, I think L3 is the worst character in the history of Star Wars. Worse than Jar Jar Binks. Boom!

But all that said, I walked away from Solo: A Star Wars Story having had a pretty good time. It was the pulpy space adventure I had been looking for and hadn’t gotten for the last 2 films. I look forward to seeing it again. Something I also couldn’t say about the last two films. Flaws and all, this is my type of Star Wars movie.

PS. There is also a reveal at the end, which was very groan inducing and if you watch Rebels or Clone Wars will not be much of a surprise.

What did you think of Solo? Let me know in the comments section.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

rogue-one2Going into the latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One, was like riding a roller coaster. For months  I heard rumblings of problems so I was moderating my expectations quite a bit.  Then the premiere happened and people I trust went nuts. ‘It’s the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back’ one premiere attendee tweeted out. As a Star Wars fan, this can’t help but boost my expectations as Empire is one of my favorite movies ever, not just Star Wars movies.

I also read the prequel novel Catalyst and enjoyed it pretty well, so that got me excited. What I liked most about Catalyst was the characters of Galen, Krennic and Lyra. The story left something to be desired but it was good enough to have me excited for Rogue One.

Then I saw the movie yesterday and unfortunately I left feeling underwhelmed…

I should say that Rogue One is not a terrible movie by any means. In the world of action movies it is fine but it is nothing more than that. In particular, the character development and storytelling really let me down.

A good Star Wars movie is focused on a lead character who has a clear mission. In the recent Force Awakens it was Rey returning BB8’s map to the rebels and finding Luke that led the story. We know this from the opening crawl all the way to literally the final shot of the film. Rogue One is supposed to have a focus of stealing the Death Star plans but it executes that mission in an extremely muddled way. Half the time I was left scratching my head wondering why are we here? What are we doing? More often than not I was bored, which is very disappointing in my gritty Star Wars movie…

rogue-one5

For example, a segment of the movie deals with Saw Gerrera and Jyn getting some information from him about her father. This scene is really long and 99% of it seemed superfluous and confusing. Even Saw’s character was muddled. I couldn’t understand him half the time and I was never sure if he was a good guy or bad guy or what his motivations were. It was just a lot of talking and shooting with little narrative focus.

Then they move on to the next action set piece involving Jyn’s father but this again stretches a simple objective into a long rather muddled sequence of fighting and doing random things.

In between, we get Darth Vader for about 7 minutes and we meet various rebels. There are a bunch of rebel leaders including Mon Mothma who is woefully underused. They debate about going after the plans and I guess this is supposed to be engaging but since the characters are weak and I know they are going to go after them it all felt kind of boring.

rogue-one4There is also a crew that surrounds Jyn who are all given very little screen time or character development. You have the blind guy, the guy who shoots a lot, guy who is romantic lead and others.  At one point about an hour into the movie a character asks for another guy named Bodhi and I had no idea who that was. It’s not good if an hour into your movie I don’t know the names of the lead characters.

The blind character Chirrut also confused me because he is force strong but not in a way I have ever seen in any other version of Star Wars. There is a scene where he walks through a barrage of blaster fire repeating ‘I am the force’. This is not how the force works especially for a non-Jedi. It screamed of ableist super powers often given to disabled characters in films. I expect better characters from Star Wars. Plus, he and the guy who shoots a lot hardly speak the entire movie. How am I supposed to get to know them if we never hear from them?

In other Star Wars films they are able to create memorable characters rather quickly. For example, we learn tons about Han Solo in the original film just by his interactions with Greedo and commissioning him as a pilot. We are clear who he is and what he matters to the story. In Rogue One I had no such clarity on any of the side characters.

The only characters I knew aside from Jyn were the villain Orson Krennic and her father Galen because I had read Catalyst. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t know much about them. Krennic particularly suffers because he pales in comparison to Darth Vader.

I know it sounds like this is the worst movie ever but it’s not. It does come together for a rousing final battle scene that I enjoyed. Also Jyn was a compelling character and Felicity Jones does a good job in the role. She at least does the best job she can with the flat script. I also thought the droid K2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk was hilarious. rogue-one6Nobody wanted to love Rogue One more than I did, but I have to be honest with my response. I thought the story lacked narrative focus, the script was poor and the character development was weak. This is not a film I feel compelled to see again anytime soon and honestly I feel confident placing it below Revenge of the Sith as my 6th favorite Star Wars movie.

Even the tragic moments didn’t work for me because I knew they were coming and the characters hadn’t been well developed. I didn’t care for them so it all fell flat.

If you want to see a war movie that brings out tons of emotion watch Hacksaw Ridge. That is a great war movie with well developed characters. This is a passable action movie and that’s about it.

Overall Grade- C

Here is my youtube review if you want to check it out

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Star Wars: Force Awakens

I’ve talked a lot about Star Wars: Force Awakens on this blog. I’ve written editorials, done podcasts and given my review. In fact there is an entire page dedicated to Star Wars content as well as a playlist on my youtube channel I would love for you to check out.

So with all of that said Nathaniel over at Film Experiment picked Force Awakens for this week’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. You can see all of my best shot series including some I have done on my own with Batman/Superman/Marvel and X-Men movies.

Since I have already talked so much about Force Awakens I will keep this entry relatively brief. I loved the film.  It was my second favorite of 2015 after Inside Out. Going into Force Awakens my favorite Star Wars film was New Hope. Why? Because it was the one that made me cheer the most and was the best theater experience I have ever had up until FA. I saw a rerelease before Phantom Menace and the entire audience was cheering and so into it. I loved it.

It might be blasphemous to say but I think Force Awakens takes what I loved about New Hope and improved upon it.  I honestly don’t see the huge complaints over Rey. I think it is dumb and a little sexist. She isn’t that different than Luke who also blew up the death star using the force with no real training. Nobody complains about that…I love Finn and the idea of a dissenting storm trooper. I loved Kylo Ren and found him to be a pretty nuanced villain for Star Wars.  He’s a true apprentice something we never got with Darth Vader in the trilogy or Anakin in the prequels. I loved seeing the old players and cried when Han died.

Could they have done without another Death Star? Yes but that did not lessen my enjoyment of the film a bit. It isn’t perfect but I sure had a great time watching it and I’ve seen it probably 10+ times and still love it. Call me a fangirl. I don’t care.

So this is my best shot. The light saber battles in Force Awakens are the best in Star Wars history. It felt like a weapon, like a rod of fire, which I have never felt before. In the final battle between Kylo and Rey she is on the defense the whole time and he is injured. Finally she senses what Maz Kanata told her and under great adrenaline pushes kylo forward.  I love this expression and I love this movie!

force awakens best shotTake that you Mary Sue morons… 😉

Star Wars Tag

Just wanted to quickly share this with you guys.  I did a big Star Wars tag made by my friend The Lawn Gnome. Would love to hear your answers to the questions!

1.How many of the Star Wars films have you seen in theaters so far?
2.What action sequence in any of the films is your favorite?
3.Given a chance to own a droid in the real world what kind would you like?
4.Which score piece do you feel fits the scene perfectly?
5.Which Star Wars actor role outside of the Star Wars do you like the most?
6.Which expended Universe Character (Cannon or Non Cannon) do you wish to see on the big screen?
7.If you could re-cast one character in the films who would you replace with him or her?
8.Which character do you feel left us too soon?
9.What is your honest opinion of the Family Guy Blue Harvest Trilogy?
10.What is your favorite alien species and why?
11.Which planet in the entire Star Wars galaxy would you want to live on?
12.Do you feel that the Star Wars/Star Trek rivalry serves a purpose today?
1.How did you discover Star Wars?
2.What was the first Star Wars film you saw in theaters?
3.Who is your favorite Star Wars Character/Actor?
4.What is your favorite light saber battle?
5.What is your favorite instalment of the Star Wars Score?
6.What is your most hated character?
7.What is your favorite chapter in the Star Wars Expanded Universe?
8.Do you own anything Star Wars outside of the films and what is your favorite?
9.Have you ever dressed up as a Star Wars character and who was it?
10.What is your favorite quote from the films?
11.What is your favorite Star Wars reference in pop culture?
12.Who would you love to see appear in the brand new Star Wars trilogy?

Why Star Wars Rebels is the Best Star Wars…

Happy Star Wars Day!  And May the 4th be with you! I’m kicking myself for not filming something Star Wars related for my youtube channel but it gives me the opportunity to give the blog my main focus!  If you haven’t watched my Star Wars content on the channel I think you will really enjoy it. My friends and I break down each of the movies and rank them.  They are really fun videos.

But that’s neither here nor there.  What I want to talk about in this post is Star Wars Rebels. Check out this trailer for the last half of season 2. If it doesn’t get you excited about Rebels than your Star Wars fandom is of a different kind than mine!

But not only is Star Wars Rebels fantastic show, in some ways I think it is the best Star Wars property out there. Let me explain why

star-wars-rebels-space-whales-05

1. Animation- as an animation buff that’s a huge plus. But even putting that love aside an animated Star Wars world has no limits. You can have space whales and then an amazing light saber battle in the same 20 minutes of screen time. The creators are only limited by their imagination.

ezra2. Non-Skywalkers- Don’t get me wrong I love the Skywalker family but Star Wars is a galaxy full of planets and people. Aside from the occasional cameo, how great is it to have main stories about new characters that aren’t Skywalkers? It makes it unpredictable. A character like Ezra we see leanings towards the dark side but we don’t know him; therefore, am never positive what he will do. His heart is in the right place which can be the greatest threat to darkness of all!

kanan3. Fantastic characters- There are some amazing characters in the Star Wars films but in Rebels we dive into these characters and live with them in a way you just can’t in a movie. Kanan has survived Order 66 and is according to creator Dave Filoni a “cowboy Jedi”.  He was never fully trained but he is force strong.  This makes him unpredictable yet still strong.

rebels women4. Fantastic Female Characters- Aside from Rey, who I will defend until I’m blue in the face, Star Wars hasn’t been the strongest when it comes to female characters. Leia is great but one note and Padme…less said about her the better. In Star Wars Rebels you have Hera and Sabine who have complex backstories involving their family, training, conflicts and everything else. They are not there to have love interests or be tough and I don’t know how anyone claims they are Mary Sue!

asoka5. Ahsoka- Speaking of female characters Ahsoka is an amazing character. She worked along side Anakin and saw him descend into Vader. A part of her still feels loyal to her former master and yet he destroyed everything in her life.  She was once in the Jedi Order but now she is free from such restrictions, yet she is still force strong. This makes her very complex and heart breaking.  And the season 2 finale. Wow!

ahsoka6. Great Writing- Rebels definitely has dud episodes. Don’t get me wrong but for the most part the writing is so good. These feel like real people not just action adventure characters. The dialogue feels genuine and can be very heartfelt and intense. Creator Dave Filoni has a real vision for the series and a love for these characters. It’s unpredictable and layered in a way you can’t accomplish in a movie.

chopper7. Chopper- While not quite BB8 greatness Chopper is such a fun droid. It’s a good example of the spirit of fun in the show. It is after all on Disney XD so there are childlike moments that are very enjoyable. Star Wars started as a film for children and then it appealed to adults second and Rebels gets that balance right.

KananCrew8. Weekly Lore- Let’s be honest waiting 2 years to find out what happens to Rey is brutal!  How great is Star Wars Rebels when each week we learn more about the lore, characters and stories. Even in the less successful episodes none of them are awful with JarJar, so no big let down as some of the movies have been. This is great storytelling and we don’t have to wait!

leia rebels9. Movie Winks- As much as I love the new characters in Rebels we also get winks and cameos from the prequels and original trilogy. Rebels is set 14 years after Revenge of the Sith so we see Vader, Yoda, Tarkin others and this last season we got to meet a young Princess Leia which was awesome. Plus, I think Rebels redeems a lot of what the prequels ruined for Anakin/Vader especially with Ahsoka’s storyline.

Star-Wars-Rebels10. Everything and More- Basically Star Wars Rebels gives you everything you love about Star Wars and even more. It has great action, light saber fights, words of wisdom, adventure, terrific characters and strong world building. It’s a great blend of being its own thing but also being a fantastic Star Wars property.  You could just watch Rebels and enjoy it without watching any other Star Wars property. I don’t know if you could say that about any of the movies? Maybe New Hope? The movies are fantastic as a series and Rebels is just that a series but you don’t have to wait 2 years in between episodes!

rebels2Honestly I like to think of Star Wars Rebels as the true prequels. We learn everything we need to know about Anakin and his fall but it is through the eyes of characters I really care about- something that definitely wasn’t the case for me in the prequels. Rebels shows the world before New Hope in a way that is gripping, heart breaking and exciting. If you haven’t seen it. WATCH IT!!

And may the 4th be with you!

Do you watch Rebels? Why do you love it?

Rogue One Trailer Review

Man it’s a good time to be a nerd. Particularly a Star Wars nerd! In just a week and change we’ve gotten the amazing Star Wars Rebels finale (oh my gosh it was awesome!), Force Awakens on bluray (still waiting for mine stupid Target!!!) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer this morning!!!  I’m giddy!

I will definitely be posting a review of Star Wars Rebels Season 2 down the road a bit but the finale had me pumped to get more information on Rogue One because the two properties aren’t that far apart in the Star Wars timeline and it looks like they share some similarities.

They both have strong female presences although Rebels has 2 lead men. Ahsoka and Sabine are complex, rich characters.  Nobody can claim they are Mary Sues (I hate that phrase more than I can say!).  In Rogue One we get Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones.  She’s an Oscar nominated actresses so I’m sure she will be great if looking a little wooden in the trailer.  Her character sounds awesome.

Jyn is a true rebel which excites me.  We get a list of her crimes to start out the trailer. She has committed “forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest”.  She’s been on her own since 15 and asks “this is a rebellion isn’t it?”.  We also learn she is “reckless, aggressive, undisciplined”.  I almost feel like Jyn is a grittier Star Wars version of Aladdin!

I also love seeing Mon Mothma back and Forrest Whitaker looks awesome in his role.  Donnie Yen is going to be great and the whole look and feel of the film looks like something we haven’t seen from Star Wars.  It looks like an actual WAR movie!  I mean the AT-AT’s and the battles look so cool. The action looks kind of like Rebels in some ways as well as the characters.

We also get a look at Ben Mendelson’s white Imperial leader and I think Vader bowing before the Emperor.  I am going to not get too excited about the cool Stormtrooper because I don’t want a Phasma disappointment.

Another thing I am pleased with is as great as it looks it has a bit of a 70s feel about it so I don’t think it feels discordant with the original Star Wars: New Hope, which this is a precursor of (I won’t use prequel word!).  It feels like it is at least semi-believable that the next step is New Hope in the story.

Long and short of it is I’m thrilled with what I see Gareth Edwards is doing with Rogue One.  I think it is a grittier version of Star Wars but it will have compelling characters and fun action as well.  It was a longer trailer than I expected but I’m pumped!

What about you?  What did you think of the Rogue One trailer?  Did you see Star Wars Rebels finale?  Without spoilers let me know what you thought!

Movie Fan Theories

So I have to admit I get a kick out of fan theories.  Most of them are nonsense but I think they are funny. I find it amusing how the good theorists can weave themes and characters together to create compelling arguments.

Of course most of us know the Pixar Theory. Basically it is a theory that all of the Pixar films are connected from Toy Story all the way to The Good Dinosaur.  Here is how The Good Dinosaur fits into the theory

(Warning all of these videos I am posting have spoilers so if you haven’t seen the films beware!):

This Inside Out theory I thought was pretty good.  Is Riley adopted?

There are also a lot of fun fan theories for Disney.  This one about Elsa and Rapunzel being sisters is very solid and fun.

This one about Beauty and the Beast is great!

 

Harry Potter has a lot of fun one’s.  Here is one that JK Rowling liked and said fits!

There is also a theory that Harry might not be the Chosen One after all

I also liked this one that merges Star Wars and Harry Potter- Is Kilo Ren Snape?

Here’s a fun one that supposes is the Joker in Batman v Superman Jason Todd not the Joker we see in other films?

This was pretty clever about James Bond.  Is it just a code name?

In the world of Star Wars we have many fan theories and this one was legendary.  Jar Jar is a Sith Lord!

Here is one I love debating who is Rey’s father?

Anyway, there are a ton of fun fan theories.  What are some you like? Do you enjoy watching them?

Good and Bad of Women in Film in 2015

woman in 2015

Spoiler warning for Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens below.

The other day my blogging friend Mark at Fast Film Reviews posted his Best Films of 2015.  What stood out to me most is that each of his 10 favorite films had a strong female presence in the film.  This is a remarkable feat that wouldn’t have been possible most years.  I’m not exaggerating when I say Meryl Streep has gotten as many nominations as she has not only because she is a great actresses but because literally some years there weren’t many strong female roles to pick from.  Even studios I love like Pixar have had few female roles.  Often you will have the token woman lead in a series dominated by male characters (Star Wars 1-6 definitely fit this camp).

I’m not saying I liked all of the female driven films of 2015.  Of course I didn’t.  Woman in Gold bored me silly and I hated Suffragette.  But I think it is a good thing we have good, bad, in-between movies about women, just like we have them about men!   If you will notice in my graphic all of the female performances were white women so that is something that could change but bravo to see half the human population represented in this storytelling device we call movies!  We’ve had female driven comedies, dramas, post-apocalyptic stories, classics, animation, teenage movies, science fiction and space opera (and I realized I forgot to include Hunger Games in the graphic!).

Unfortunately, the jury is still out as to whether this is an anomaly or a lasting trend.  2016 is very heavy in superhero movies (8 in one year!) and we will see how they do with Wonder Woman but not very optimistic on that front.  Of course, we have the female cast Ghostbusters which will be a very interesting to see how that plays out.  I am sure no matter how good it is there will be idiots who complain about the casting gimmick, but I just want to see the movie!

That’s where we get to the bad of this great year for women in film.  We unfortunately have gotten the complaining from corners who don’t want to see progression in characters and representation on screen.  Yes, if casting a female in a part is just to be politically correct than you have a point.  Part of the problem with Princess and the Frog is Disney was too concerned with both representing and placating an African American audience.  They made story changes, altered characters and ended up with kind of a muddled movie (not terrible but not as strong as it could have been).  Same thing when they tried to not offend the catholic church with Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Changing Frollo to a judge actually made the church look worse as the institution, not just a lone bishop, is enabling a mad man raise a child and not doing anything to stop the horrible behavior and manipulation.

So yes, Hollywood is a business and if they can follow a trend of female based movies, they will do it.  If it stops being the trend than they will stop doing it.  I repeat- it’s a business.  They want to make money! So of course after a big hit like Hunger Games we have seen many strong women in the movies.

Here’s the bad side of the trend, all the trolling and moronic comments that have resulted. This is particularly true with Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The complaints for both films really irritate me.

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ action adventure film, “Mad Max: Fury Road," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

First of all, Max Max: Fury Road is criticized because Furiosa is basically the lead of the film rather than Mad Max.  I’m no expert on the Mad Max franchise but wasn’t Max always kind of secondary to the environment and world around him?  Is he really that much of a dynamic character? Isn’t he pretty much an excuse to have great action set pieces and a fun gritty story? So why does it matter that in this case the world around him is a strong woman?  And isn’t every scene Furiosa in Max also in except for the very beginning when she begins her drive?

To me it makes sense in a post-apocalyptic world that women would be both prized for their sex and fertility and also have to be incredibly tough to survive.  Furiosa’s character is not only that but she is angry and really a revolutionary with her stealing Joe’s wives.  Of course she is a tough woman.  She would be slaughtered in the first 15 minutes of the movie if she wasn’t!  There is also never a moment of traditional ‘girl power’ in the movie.  For instance, she just shoots the giant gun.  She doesn’t say something girl powery like ‘that’s how ladies get it done’.  She just does it, just like Max does it.

Neither Max or Furiosa have any dialogue so why her character annoys people more than his is beyond me?  They are both characters that are fighting a post-apocalyptic battle on cars.  It’s as simple as that.

It will be interesting to see where the story goes in the next movie but for the one we got, in the genre it was trying to be in, Furiosa was awesome.

rey2

Ok.  Let’s tackle Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  In the film we get a new lead character Rey played by Daisy Ridley.  She is a scavenger who is waiting for her family to come back after they left her on a desert planet named Jakku.  As a scavenger she learns about machines and she says she has experience as a pilot.  She identifies herself as a pilot from the beginning.  Poe Dameron also identifies himself as a pilot. Nobody has any problem with that…

So, Rey flies the Millennium Falcon and she is by no means perfect in the flight.  She bounces around a bit and is on the run most of the time.  Through some clever thinking, more than brilliant flying she evades the tie-fighters. When it is over Finn asks her ‘how did you do that?’.  She says something like “I don’t know.  We trained but never left the planet”.  She’s clearly a character that operates well on extreme adrenalin and she has force abilities that are awakened through the course of the movie.

If you think about it she makes a poor decision under less adrenalin when changing the fuses in the scenes with the rathgars.   Also for someone who has only been trained on blasters Finn adapts to the Tie-Fighter and Falcon pretty easily.  He also knows where to go to turn off the shields and is able to make his way to Captain Phasma and capture her without disturbing anyone else on the ship.  For a guy in sanitation that was simple for him? Yet I don’t see anyone complaining about his character or that he is a Gary Stu?

She is also different than Luke because Luke was a doubter.  It took him forever to believe in the force and its power and be confident in using it.  Really not until Return of the Jedi is he confident.  Yoda tells him “that is why you fail” because his lack of faith in the force and his own abilities are his biggest problem.  I mean if you really think about it Luke had never really piloted much before and yet he does a darn good job in those missions at the end of New Hope.  Nobody complains about that.  If Luke hadn’t been bogged down by self-doubt than he probably would have been able to do everything that Rey does.  People accept things at different rates.  Rey is a believer and therefore she uses the force more quickly than Luke did.

Now there is one moment in the film where Rey changes a stormtrooper’s mind and this idea comes to her seemingly out of nowhere.  Although humorous, this could have been handled better, but to call into question the entire character and claim she is a Mary Sue because of it, is just ridiculous.

The final battle between her and Kylo is also a point of contention.  In this scene Kylo is injured, and injured so badly a significant amount of blood has come through his clothing to drip onto the ground.  That’s no small injury.  He also shows at the beginning that he can throw her against the tree.

But then her confidence grows as the fight continues.  She’s just seen Finn hurt, possibly dead, Han is dead,  and she fights with a ferocity we don’t often see in Star Wars.  But she is still on the defense for most of the fight.  Then we get to the point where he has her on the edge of a ravine and she hears the words of Maz Kanata about the force.  This gives her the strength to tackle an INJURED Kylo Renn.

the-princess-bride-the-princess-bride-4546832-1280-720If you think about action scenes in other classic movies things are far easier for the male heroes than they are for Rey in Force Awakens, and yet I don’t hear complaints of Mary Sue or Gary Stu.  The Princess  Bride for instance- a movie I love by the way.  Yes, Wesley is a pirate but does it make sense he would be smarter than a deep thinker, stronger than a giant and a better swordsman than a man who trained all his life to avenge his father’s death?  No.  Of course it doesn’t but it’s a live action fairytale with a sense of humor to it.  I want in my Princess Bride movie for the hero to dominate and have quippy dialogue.  (Another movie with the token woman and almost all the rest men).

You can make a similar argument about Indiana Jones finding clues in  minutes scores of people are researching and digging for.  I have never heard anyone claim he is a bad character.  Even if they hate the last movie they still like the character.  What about the Goonies?  People love that movie but it is about kids finding treasure underneath a major city (all the goonies by the way are nearly all boys!). You going to tell me it makes sense that generations of people weren’t able to find those caverns and treasure when a couple of kids are able too?  Indiana Jones and Goonies are great movies because they work within the genres they are given and have good scripts.

Star Wars movies are meant to be exciting, fun, space operas.  They aren’t supposed to be gritty depictions of realistic warfare.  The character arcs are pretty simple but we love it for that very reason.  The problem with the prequels is the characters got muddled and made poor decisions (with dopey dialogue too).  The fact is Rey is a character with confidence who acts well under adversity. For the life of me I don’t know what’s wrong with that?

Mad Max is a kinetic crazy battle film.  Furiosa is a strong character who is in nearly every scene with Max and they fight the bad guys.  It’s as simple as that.

So, to those complaining about Star Wars and Mad Max, I can see having issues with individual scenes in the film, as do I, but to fault the movie for Furiosa and Rey I do not get.  Those are terrific characters that fit within the genre of movie they are in.  I’m sorry if their presence annoys you but again grow up!  If you don’t like the movies.  Fine.  But stop with the Mary Sue and the feminists are taking over our movies nonsense.

That’s what I have to say about that!  Let’s just hope that Wonder Woman is 1/10th the character Furiosa and Rey were.  A girl can dream right?