Darkness Rises

Holy cow did that little trailer just come out of nowhere. A 45 second TV spot and I’m even more hyped than I was for the trailer that came out just a few weeks ago. Let’s talk about why. Potential spoilers ahead.

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Rogue One Review: the best Star Wars spin-off film ever?

I just saw Rogue One for my second time Friday night. It took me a little while to put everything down, but here’s my review. This review does contain spoilers, so consider yourself warned. OK, so the title of this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek because it’s the only Star Wars spin-off film, but it’s still pretty darn good. Now for the review.

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Rogue One:This is not the review you are looking for

Last night was the US release of Rogue One and based on the reaction on twitter and fansites its the greatest Star Wars movie since Empire and everyone’s 2nd or third favorite. Many people talking about how its the Star Wars they always wanted. I couldn’t disagree more, Rogue One was ok but its not great for several reasons. The first part of my review is spoiler free but pay attention to the spoiler warning because after that I get real spoilerly.

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Rebels: So…now what?

Now that we have the second season of Rebels in the bag we have to ask ourselves what happens next. Where will our intrepid heroes end up? To answer those questions we need to first review what happened in the finale. I must admit I was ultimately disappointed in the finale. more “Rebels: So…now what?”

Episodic Order Reviews #7: The Force Awakens

Hi Star Wars fans! I hope everybody had a good couple of days as I assume most of you have seen The Force Awakens. I’ve seen TFA twice already (once in 3D and once in 2D), so I think I’m ready to give a little bit of a review. I had seen all the other Star Wars films so many more times than I had seen this one, so there really isn’t a fair comparison. That in mind, let’s begin. There will be spoilers in what follows, so don’t read on if you haven’t seen the film. See you after the jump:

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Episodic Order Reviews #6: Return of the Jedi

It’s Friday once again and time for the last of my Episodic Order Reviews of Star Wars. Next week, I guess I will do my best to review The Force Awakens. I can’t believe it’s less than a week away! This is just feels unreal. It just seems like yesterday I was happy that it hit 100 days away.

Many of you may be wondering why I did these reviews in episodic order. Basically, because this is the way that I think I’ve heard George Lucas had said to watch them. I know the twists already, so I don’t need to preserve anything, but if I was introducing Star Wars to someone that had never seen it before, I might suggest Modified Machete. Maybe I’d explain both to them and let them choose. You still get to see Luke’s reaction to the surprise revelation of his familial history.

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Image credit: Lucasfilm

I’m told that GL wanted the kind of surreal experience of seeing a sort of rock music number in the middle of a Star Wars movie. I typically find the scene frustrating because it’s such a departure from the rest of the saga, or at least from the rest of the OT. When I watched it tonight, I kind of felt like, you know, this is the kind of stuff that makes Star Wars great. The range. It can go from completely goofy to very sinister to heroic, to whatever. It can be anything. Maybe it’s also because I just watched the prequels. If you like the ring theory, and I’ve posted some stuff on that in the past, then you know that TPM is meant to mirror RotJ. So in a way, the Jedi Rocks scene is meant to mirror something equally goofy in The Phantom Menace. Maybe parts of the Podrace perhaps? I can think of a lot of scenes that are equally as goofy as Jedi Rocks. The more I think about it, watching RotJ tonight feels like much of the tone is similar to TPM in its levity, and goofy characters. Salacious crumb, Jedi Rocks, the ewoks, the burp jokes, some of Jabba’s wacky menagerie of characters. It all mirrors portions of TPM in tone and style. At the same time, like TPM it has some more serious moments. I won’t go into the Ring Theory any more in this review, but just wanted to put in words how I felt about the tone of the beginning of RotJ.

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Image credit: Lucasfilm

The deleted scene of Luke is a bit of a shame. I would have taken out the part where Vader is telepathically communicating with Luke, and just show him building his saber and hiding it in R2D2.

The High Points

That laugh. The cackle laugh when we first see the Emperor in person in the OT. Man, it is so creepy and awesome. Ian McDiarmid strikes again with his amazing talent.

I’ve always loved the scene when Luke says “So I am a Jedi” and Yoda says “OOoooh?”. Seeing the prequels did change how I see Yoda. I felt that his passing was in a way sadder having known what he did during the Clone Wars and before. Definitely harder to see the little guy go. He has become part of the connective tissue for the whole saga. That’s part of why I want to see him in the Sequel Trilogy. I have wondered before if he will be in TFA somehow, but I’m starting to think it is pretty unlikely. I think a more likely scenario is that we’ll see Yoda’s Force ghost in Episode VIII. I don’t have any inside info or anything, but it feels right. It would parallel the OT in a way because Yoda is introduced in the second act.

Hearing Obi Wan say that Luke’s sister “remains safely anonymous” kind of clears up a complaint that I had about RotS, and the believability of Leia hiding with an important senator, and he does remind us that she has a completely different name and maybe could have never left Alderaan until she was 13 or something, when the idea of Anakin’s offspring was long gone. That said, Sidious and Vader are pretty powerful and I’m still surprised that she was never sensed by the Sith.

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Image credit: Lucasfilm

I’m so glad that C3P0 finally puts to use his translation skills in this movie. Come to think of it, and correct me if I’m wrong, but does he do any other translating in the rest of the saga? At any rate, the droid proves his use in this movie.

The Space Battles. When those trumpets kick in and you see the Rebel fleet start to organize and assume attack coordinates. At this point, the movie really kicks in. Before the introduction of the Rebel Fleet and those trumpets, the movie feels a bit slow at times. After this, for me tonight at least, it feels like it picks up speed. Who knows, it’s like the 100th time I’ve seen this movie, it might feel like the first half is a little slow because I’ve seen it so many times. At any rate, the Space Battles of RotJ are some of the best of the ENTIRE saga. yeah, I said it. I think I like the Space Battle of RotJ better than RotS. That’s saying someting. I mean the opening shot of RotS may be the best single shot in the whole saga, but I feel that hands down, RotJ takes the cake with the Space battle and gives some of the best choreographed, and for that matter some of the most real special effects of any space battle in the saga. The music is excellent too. John Williams work during the space battles in this movie is some of the best of the saga. I’m saying this a lot, but I feel like the Space battles (and the saber fights/exchanges with Vader/Luke/Emperor, see below) are what MAKES this movie beyond just “good”. These scenes are spectacular even today.

Of course Lando and Nien Nunb are awesome and the whole blowing up the Death Star. The whole scene where Lando figures out that the shields are still up, all that stuff is gold. Lando is an excellent character in this one! He is sort of a minor role, but ends up doing some good stuff. This totally makes up for Lando falling off the floating barge thing on Tatooine.

Love the speeder chase. Wicket redeems himself and proves his awesomeness! I assume that’s wicket at least. Anyway, the way that little furball grabs that vine and escapes is pretty awesome.

You got to love the exchanges between Vader and Luke. All of this stuff works, and is really one of the high points of the whole saga. The dialogue, the saber battles, the Emperor, and the balance of the Force. All awesome, and a great conclusion to the saga.

The Low Points

I’m going to have to say the saliva in that guy’s mouth during the Jedi Rocks scene (I’m watching the blue-ray version) and just other parts of that scene. I mean, this just gets a little over the top for me. I’m not sure it was that much better before, and maybe the movie did need some sort of humor and fun at this moment. I’m not sure how it could be done better, but maybe just toned down a bit. Maybe the fact that it goes over the top shows the audience that this movie is not to be taken 100% serious. It’s for fun too.

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Image Credit: Lucasfilm

OK, maybe this will be very controversial, but somehow the exchange between Luke and Leia in the Ewok Village, when Luke asks about Leia’s mother, seems a little off to me at the beginning. At first I thought it was going to be good, but it seems a bit off to me tonight. I think Luke is going through some serious stuff at this point, and is kind of overwhelmed. Luke kind of has a wild look in his eyes that comes across a little off, but maybe he is just going through some really difficult times, which he certainly is.

Beyond that, I don’t have much of a problem with anything. I actually don’t mind the ewoks. I tried to look for the blinking thing, but I barely even notice it. As far as I’m concerned, it looks pretty good and adds more life to them. In fact, I wish Wicket’s mouth moved a little more. So if anything, I don’t object to cute furry characters, but I would have actually preferred it if they were a little more dynamic. Wicket is the true mirror of Jar Jar. It’s cool to see this when he leads Leia to the Ewok Village.  With that said, some of the early scenes in the Ewok village seem a little slow at times.

In Conclusion

All things considered it’s pretty good. The movie feels a bit slow these days compared to contemporary movies, but has it’s moments.

Very Good 4 out of 5 stars

That brings me to my ranking. Having watched them all again over the past six weeks, here’s what I’m thinking:

Empire Strikes Back

A New Hope

Revenge of the Sith

Return of the Jedi

The Phantom Menace

Attack of the Clones

Stay tuned next week for my review of The Force Awakens!

Follow me on twitter @davestrrr and stay tuned to SpoiledBlueMilk.com MWF for updates.

Episodic Order Reviews #5: The Empire Strikes Back!

OK, so I know I usually get these up on Friday. Now I’m 2 days late, and 2 dollars short, but I’m here to give you another review as part of our lead up the The Force Awakens! If you haven’t, check out my review of A New Hope, or  our other reviews here at SpoiledBlueMilk, including my review of the prequels.

Although I’m not a prequel hater, I am very much an OT lover. There was a long time in my life when Star Wars was just the trilogy. No OT, no PT, just “the trilogy”. The Star Wars Trilogy. And Empire has always stood at the top. It’s the darkest of the OT, and widely viewed as the best Star Wars movie around. In fact, there are some that rate it as the best movie ever.

Executor

The High Points

The Imperial March. Empire is the first movie that had the famous Imperial March, and the first scene when that music is played is absolutely epic. The Star Destroyers flying around Vader’s Super Star Destroyer, and then you go straight to the “lead in the Hoth System” when the Captain Piett vs Admiral Ozzel confrontation begins. When Vader says with such certainty “That’s it. The Rebels are there” is one of my favorite moments. Vader kicks so much ass in this film! And it’s the little things, like the look that Ozzel gives Piett and this little spat between them is one of the many little things that makes this movie so great to rewatch. You can easily forget about those characters, but each to time you watch it it’s so good.

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Luke pulling the saber out of the ice. This is such a good scene because in the release order, this is the first time Luke ever uses the Force to move something. When we first saw this movie back in 1980, it was like “whoa the Force can do that?” It’s easy to take this for granted. Vader had a Force choke, but nothing else really involved such controlled telekinesis. Obi Wan made those Stormtroopers hear something, but it isn’t clear how he did it and if it wasn’t some sort of a mind trick. This moment with the sword in the ice is sort of supposed to be an homage to King Arthur pulling Excalibur out of the stone according to some theories. Who knows what it means, but it’s definitely cool.

 

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The Bounty Hunters scene. I know this is a common one, but you gotta love this motley crew of bounty hunters. Still pretty cool after all these years. Even cooler with the knowledge of the significance of these guys for the story later on.

Luke upside-down and Yoda. This scene with Luke upside down levitating rocks is the first scene when there is a really controlled use of the Force and to me is one of the most significant uses of the Force. That is, until Yoda…

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One of my most favorite of all time scenes in any Star Wars production ever is the scene were Yoda lifts Luke’s X-wing out of the swamp. The whole thing. From the beginning when Luke tries to lift it out the the end where this exchange happens:

Luke: I don’t believe it.

Yoda: That is why you fail.

So amazing even on the kaggillionth viewing. I think this is so true of real life. If you want something to happen and to accomplish some difficult task; if you don’t go in believing you can do it, it won’t happen. This moment, when the Yoda’s theme and the movie for that matter hit a crescendo, when Yoda lifts the X-wing out of the swamp is kind of the one-two punch with the introduction of the Imperial March. This is when you know there is no ordinary movie.

The thing about Empire, is it was still that point in the OT when everything looked “real”. What made Star Wars, A New Hope and subsequently Empire so great was that they were all so real looking compared to anything that happened before. That is, until the not-so-real CGI Jabba was put in ANH.   The thing that makes Empire so great is it doesn’t try and do anything with the special effects that is overly ambitious. It does all the special effects for the most part with technology established in ANH. The thing that made it great is it was about telling a good story using established technology. It feels like it is pushing cinema and content rather than special effects. The effects are great, don’t get my wrong, but it doesn’t try and pull some special effects feat that doesn’t work.

Of course the “I am your father” and the “I love you. I know” moments. Also, “I’m altering the deal”. I won’t bother saying anything else on these. Hard to say anything that hasn’t been said many times before about these scenes.

The Low Points

Are there any low points? There is no scene in this movie that I have issues with. None that I can think of or that come up in the movie. Some complain about Leia kissing Luke being gross, but to me it was an innocent mistake. Neither of them knew, and it was just a kiss.

No annoying characters. No sub-par special effects. No bad scenes. This movie has it all.

It’s really hard to criticize this film. I’m pretty sure this is my favorite of all of them!

Excellent! 5 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

Episodic Order Reviews #4: A New Hope

It’s Friday, so that means I’ll be reviewing another Star Wars movie in Episodic Order as we lead up to The Force Awakens. The good news is, I get to spend the day after Thanksgiving re-watching A New Hope, the bad news is reviewing it is kind of a challenge.

It definitely feels weird watching A New Hope to review it. I mean, I’ve seen it probably hundreds of times. It’s hard to look at it objectively given what an influence it has had to movies, culturally, and to me personally. Given that, what can I possibly say that hasn’t been said hundreds of times about this movie? I’ll do my best to give my favorite and least favorite moments.

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image credit: Lucasfilm

My favorite moments

I think I always liked the Jawas. Something about them always intrigued me. I think when I was a kid, their clothes probably connected more to the fantasy genre (I don’t know like the Smurfs cartoon) where a character would wear the same attire as the Jawas. So this was the first point in the movie when you realize that this is more than your typical Sci-Fi movie, but also dips into other genres.

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Image credit: Lucasfilm

I still like hearing Obi Wan telling Luke about the Jedi and his father. I like how after a certain point you realize that this movie has everything. Old wizards, giant dragon skeletons, space ships, robots, Smuggler with side-arms, bounty hunters and somehow it succeeds in presenting it with credibility on all fronts. In other words, none of those parts come across as cheesy or not well done. It works on all fronts, and this is certainly not an easy task.

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It’s very interesting how infrequently the Force is used in this movie, and I think that’s a plus in a way. After this movie, you are left wondering what exactly the Force is capable of, but you’ve seen some amazing things. Let’s see, you have the Jedi Mind-trick from Obi Wan, The Force-choke from Vader, the Noise-at-a-distance from Obi Wan (in the Death Star), Luke using the Force to target an exhaust port at full-throttle, and Vader Force-sensing Lukes’ Force powers from a distance. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that is it. So you might say this is a less-is-more kind of approach and it works.

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My least favorite moments

That spin that Obi Wan does when fighting Vader. Just seems like he is putting himself into a vulnerable position. I don’t know, maybe he is doing some sort of Force-block or something that I don’t know about, but it just seems too slow to be a wise move.

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image credit: Lucasfilm

I don’t know, lately when I watch the end, I can’t help but get sad for Chewie and the fact that he didn’t get a medal. It almost looks like Chewie goes through a series of emotions. From “proud”, to “child-like nervousness”, to “wait a minute, why are you starting with Han and not left to right”, to “WTF. I’m not getting a medal am I”. I feel like if this movie were made today, Chewie would have gotten a medal.

OK, so somehow this movie does feel a little bit slow at times. I don’t know if my tastes have become a little modernized and I want something to be a little more fast-paced. I feel like movies these days try to keep you on the edge of your seats either with intense action or intense drama. So, now rewatching A New Hope, there are times when it does seem to dip to a slightly lower pace. This is a very minor thing, and isn’t a huge negative because the movie still works.

The movie’s great. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Follow me on twitter @davestrrr and stay tuned to SpoiledBlueMilk.com for updateds MWF

 

 

Modified Machete Order: Attack of the Clones Review

I am going to state this from the beginning; this is my least favorite Star Wars movie but when it first came out it was my second or third favorite. As time passed from its initial release its faults became more apparent and its shiny parts became duller to the point that I no longer saw them. I will say that now I can view everything that it truly is a good movie with a few bad spots. Lets just say Star Wars movies are like pizza there isn’t a bad one and I have had pizza that was worse than AotC could ever be viewed.

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What didn’t work

Dialog: this is the root of every problem in AotC. Related would be the development of Anakin and Padme’s relationship however I believe  with proper dialog I think this would not have been bad. Much of the dialog is telling us things that we should be able to see instead. Anakin telling us how great Obi-Wan is as a master would have been better shown. Perhaps open the movie  with them working together well. The chase Obi-wan and Anakin participate in could have done a better job of them cooperating and Obi-Wan being a mentor with the better dialog and interaction. Instead Obi-wan acts like Anakin is a child that needs minding and Anakin acts as though he HAS to just do things or his abilities aren’t recognized. The development of Anakin and Padme’s relationship uneven while parts are great they veer off into uncomfortable territory. The much maligned sand scene actually is pretty great however the scene with fireplace is terrible and could have been so much better. I could give more examples of where the dialog failed the story  but that’s been overdone (Almost everything with C3PO).

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The only other thing that doesn’t work is the lack of continuity between AotC and ANH. After Anakin and Padme decide to leave Tatoonie  I would have like to have seen Owen try to convince Anakin to stay and not get involved, the Jedi are idealistic fools on a hopeless crusade.

 

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What worked

Anakin’s talent with the force was highlighted well, he seemed to be better than everyone else with exception of Yoda. He is also cocky about his abilities which to me matches well with Vader’s opinion of  himself. Obi-wan’s entire storyline was great and  if anything could have been expanded. I found the acting to be as good as the material presented unfortunately Hayden and Natalie’s performance suffered because of the poorly done scenes however MOST of their work is great. Yoda teaching the younglings scene was fantastic and the interaction with Obi-wan and the other masters fit with how we saw them. The story and plot are quite good in themselves and though and despite it being the longest run time for any Star Wars movie it feels shorter.

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The lightsaber battles were very good. Obi-wan vs Dooku was great as it showed Anakin’s rashness was a weakness and Obi-wan’s methods had there place. One thing about the movie that the book did better was Anakin vs Dooku. The movie was not as dynamic as the book made the battle seem and Anakin seemed more of a badass in the book but it was still good. However the best was Yoda vs Dooku. I have heard people complaining of how Yoda fought  with a lightsaber but because its so unexpected is why I love it. When the battle is over and Yoda goes back to his walking stick… that is just pure awesome.

Final Thoughts

I wish the Jedi council had raised Anakin to a Knight but basically a be with Padme and leave us or give that up and stay, with Anakin choosing Padme. Palpatine could have then asked Anakin to be his  personal Jedi and represent him on the council with no vote. Thereby putting Anakin in the hands of the Sith Lord but allowing him to continue to work with Obi-wan. This would have set up the next film nicely. I still like this movie even though I can see its faults and missed opportunities.

Episodic Order Reviews #3: Revenge of the Sith

It’s Friday night! That means it’s time for the reviews of the Star Wars movies in episodic order. As I did with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, I’m reviewing the entire saga as we lead up to The Force Awakens, and today, I’ll be reviewing RotS. By far, Revenge of the Sith is my favorite prequel. It’s witty, it moves fast, the visual effects are nearly impeccable. In my mind, a lot of the flak that the prequels got was because they wanted RotS all along. Ever since Vader says “When we last met, I was but a learner, now I am the master” in ANH, we’ve been yearning to see that last time. It’s said that Tom Stoppard gave the script a “polish”, and I think it worked because to me the script is tight, compact, and funny without being cheesy. I think it has more wittily structured lines than any of the prequels. Compare:

Greivous: It is a volcanic planet. You will be safe there.
Nute Gunray: Safe?!

from RotS to

C3P0: Oh! This is such a drag.

from AotC. I mean both are funny, but RotS just lacks the cheeseball factor. Appropriate too, given the dark nature of the film. There are moments like this that really bump this movie up and up in the saga for me.

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Image Credit: Lucasfilm

I think Ian McDiarmid is one of my favorite Star Wars actors, and he shines in this film. I think his delivery is amazing for the vast majority of the film. In a way, McDiarmid is sort of Lucas’ “ace in the hole” for the prequels. An amazing actor that he uses sparingly until the third act. Although his performances in TPM and AotC were downright brilliant, his performance in RotS brings him to the forefront where he can really “bring it”. I actually think he is better in the first half of the film. Some of his most amazing lines in my mind: all the scenes when he is manipulating Anakin, “Do it”,  “And we shall have peace” and “Execute order 66” when we see him say it in person the first time, are all so brilliantly executed.

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Photo by Merrick Morton.TM & © 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

That scene. That moment half way through the film when Anakin sits the the Jedi Council chambers watching the sunset over Coruscant. In my opinion, this scene is meant to mirror the famous sunset scene over Tatooine with Luke looking to the horizon. Whereas Luke longs for a more meaningful life  off that planet, and for a more meaningful future; Anakin contemplates his own future and Padme’s. Right after Luke’s sunset moment, he starts on a path that would ultimately make him a hero. Right after Anakin’s moment he starts on a path, past the point of no return, to become an anti-hero. This scene in RotS has amazing lighting, great music, and one of Hayden’s best non-verbal performances. Speaking of Hayden, upon this viewing I feel that his performances in RotS, on the whole, are actually pretty darn good. I think his performance in this film, except for maybe one or two lines, are right on the money. He is certainly the main character of this film as the story follows him very closely. As I said in my last review, I liked Hayden in AotC except for a few scenes. In RotS there are just a couple of spots where the emotion doesn’t come through (when he says “No, it’s because I’m so in love with you” doesn’t do it for me), but he more than makes up for it in other scenes. Some other Hayden high points are “I’m doing for you…to protect you”, and the furious disdain he shows for Obi Wan after the fight.

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I still think the CGI version of Yoda in the blue ray version of TPM is the best animation of Yoda in the whole prequels. Admittedly, the technology had improved because it was the most recent, but still. I wouldn’t be opposed to refreshed CGI to touch up a few spots of the whole prequels in a new 4K version of them. I mean, most of the CGI is great, but you know there are just a couple of shots here and there. The truth is though, it actually isn’t always clear which parts of the prequels are CGI and which are practical, but there’s a couple of CGI effects that could be better. In RotS, for example, the face of Dooku and Sidious on their respective stuntmen during lightsaber duels look fake at times. Certainly, those scenes were a major achievement for their time, but just imagine if, say in 2020, they took the old raw digital footage from RotS, and improved the digital model of Palpatine and Dooku, and beefed up those scenes. For example, if you took the original 3D scans used to make those models, performed some sort of 2020 3D anti-aliasing technology on them and rebuilt those models. With Yoda, some of the scenes are amazing, and no doubt better than AotC, but there are just a couple of shots that I could see improving. Probably not this one though:

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Image Credit: Lucasfilm

OK, so at the end, when Yoda says that the twins need to be split up and protected from the Emperor, the logic baffles me. I know Luke and Leia have to end up in a particular location with particular people, but why send Leia with a high profile Senator when the Emperor is still in power? Why send Luke with the only family Anakin has left? Sure, Vader assumes that Luke and Leia died with Padme, but what if he ever had a clairvoyant image of his children alive? If he had one of his vivid dreams, and he recognized something in the dream, he would go looking for them. Why not send them to a completely obscure planet that no one would ever visit? At any rate, we know how the ending needs to end up to match with ANH, so we let this one slide.

The other thing that has always bothered me was Anakin’s motivations for killing the Jedi could have been beefed up just a bit. It isn’t made crystal clear why he needs to wipe out the Jedi, and he must “show no mercy in order to be strong enough with the darkside in order to save Padme”. I mean, I understand it. I understand that the darkside flows stronger when there is no mercy. I just think Anakin takes a huge leap here, and some more dialogue to motivate why he would go from “trying to save Padme” to blindly committing heinous acts wouldn’t hurt here. Maybe they left it simple because trying to explain only made things even less believable.

Upon re-watching the prequels, it has become more apparent of the idea of emerging characters, and also, for lack of a better term, vanishing characters. For example, although Padme plays a key role in the film, her scenes feel fewer compared to TPM and AotC. She gives some of her strongest acting of the prequels in these scenes, but it does seem like less screen time. Jar Jar has just a brief glimpse. As far as I can tell, Jar Jar just says “Excuse me” when he bumps into another major senator, possibly Orn Free Taa. In contrast to the much maligned “Exqueeze me” of TPM, in this one brief moment we see that Jar Jar is still a little clumsy, but has assimilated as a senator. Palpatine seems to keeps Jar Jar close, because he is easily manipulated, and other senators love him. He’s a lovable yokel-turned-Senator that is well liked and easy to control.

The high points of the film are numerous. The opening shot space battle. The moment when Palpatine tells Anakin the story of Plagueis. Many of the exchanges between Anakin and Padme are quite good, and a welcome change to some of the dud scenes in AotC. The lightsaber battles are pretty excellent all around. I love the way the prequel style is morphed into the OT style smoothly in this film, until the end, we have a style very similar to the OT. I like the encounter between Mace and Palpatine.

The number of great scenes outnumber the scenes that are not so great by a large margin. In fact, my minor criticisms are a real stretch, I know. That’s because, I think it’s a great film. This is the film that people somehow thought the prequels would begin with. As a whole the prequels have been fun to watch again. RotS was certainly the best for me as it has always been, followed by TPM, then AotC. We’re now like 27 days from TFA, and if anything the only thing holding me back from enjoying the prequels more was the anticipation for new Star Wars in less than a month.

Excellent! 4 out of 5 stars.

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Modified Machete Order: The Phantom Menace Review

I’m going to open up this review by leveling with you my dear readers about how much of a nerd I really am. I saw The Phantom Menace(TPM) at midnight on opening day. I waited in line all day long(I was second in line). I beat the real life version of The Simpsons comic book guy(serious looked just like him) in Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, twice, and I only missed one answer between the two games(Worst nerd beating ever). I was in costume. As Darth Maul. I did all of my own make up, made the horns and  did my own sewing. I made the local news. So TPM has a special place in my heart. That being said I am not one the new breed that defends TPM ignoring its faults but I also recognize it is much better than people have given it credit for over the last ten years or so.

Dis is bombad

I’m going to start off with what I didn’t like in TPM and  most of that is in the first third of the movie. Jar-Jar’s dialog and reactions in the first part of the movie were over the top. As you watch the rest of movie the character and his speech settles down and he becomes tolerable if not a favorite. I also didn’t like Qui-Gon’s attitude toward Jar-Jar when he first meets him. He’s arrogant in way that he is not for the rest of the film. The fight scenes of Obi-wan and Qui-Gon as they rescue the Queen and when they escape Naboo are kind of terrible. Droids are randomly close so the Jedi can cut them down and it just isn’t visually appealing.

droidarmy

Speaking of visually appealing the CGI in the vista type scenes does not hold up well. I am speaking of the droid army approach to Thead and in the final battle when the droid army approaches the Gungan and after the Gungan shield falls.  But those are the only CGI fails I have.

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There is one other mistake made in the first third of the movie. For example the way R2 is introduced. Too much telling not enough showing. We never knew what R2 was doing to fix things just that he fixed it. Instead of just throwing us in to the universe as ANH did TPM tends to explain everything its setting up. This is the real basis of the people’s problems with the movie as a whole. Fortunately this is limited to the first third.

anakin

Finally lets discuss Anakin Skywalker, the character not the actor that portrayed him. Anakin has some goofy lines but nothing terrible, in fact there are only two terrible things that revolve around Anakin. First is the hanging speech. By that I mean the two scenes where Anakin is speaking and Padme and Qui-Gon “interrupt” him. Its obvious he has nothing more to say and his fellow actors are supposed to interrupt him. This a failure in editing, scripting, and direction. If the actor had been given full lines and was actually interrupted or if the interruptions we cut in quicker it would work better.  The second is Anakin’s line and actions during the space battle. This is a boy we just saw fly in and win a podrace. During that podrace he made on the fly adjustments and repairs while keeping his cool and righting his pod while it was spinning and under the control of one engine. He would not accidentally fly into a control ship or say “spinning is a good trick” The character could have and should have been more purposeful in his actions. It appears luck helps him out as it stands and we all know “There’s no such thing as luck”.

This is SO Wizard

padme

Alright lets get to the good stuff which pretty much includes everything after we meet Anakin. Which brings me to my first great thing, this movie is not about introducing us to Anakin, its about introducing Padme. Padme’s world is the one used by the Trade Federation, its her decision to leave with the Jedi, then to come with Qui-Gon to Mos Espa, she is entire reason Anakin tries to catch up with them after he leaves Wattos, she decides to call for no confidence in the chancellor,  then she heads back to Naboo, forms an alliance with the Gungans and formulates the plan to take back her planet. Just about every decision that moves the plot forward is made by Padme. Her interactions with Anakin when they first meet are great and show that Jake Lloyd was a good child actor. Overall Padme’s character is my favorite in TPM.

Anankin pod

Shmi, Watto and Sebulba are all great characters. The CGI on Watto and Sebulba was the kind of work that has held up. I actually felt that Shmi wanted only for him to be free. Everything she had suffered through would be worth it if he was allowed to leave with the Jedi. The podrace was absolutely fantastic work both visually and storytelling. It showed us how resourceful Anakin was and he was something special. There was tension both in the race and for those watching it. Our first introduction of Darth Maul vs Qui-Gon was a fantastic little battle. Once they arrive at Coruscant we finally get to meet the Jedi council and see the Senate. The Jedi are arrogant and dismissive of a fellow master Qui-Gon because he doesn’t follow the party line. Its awesome! The Jedi are ripe for a fall from prestige due to their attitude. And then we see the Sneate and Palpatine, good lord he’s fantastic. Why isn’t Ian  McDiarmid in more movies? The Senate itself is another institution that has festered and is ripe for manipulation and destruction. I don’t think people expected that when they walked and they missed the undercurrent of how this sets up the rise of the Empire.

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The final battle really works for me. The gungans are no Ewoks and came to fight and brought their own tech and army. They are for the most part formidable fighters and do quite will against superior tech and numbers. Then we have the Duel of Fates. Second best lightsaber duel behind Empire. This was what we wanted to see. Jedi at their absolute height of power and skill. The only thing I would have done to improve it was give Maul taunting dialog to both Qui-Gon and Obi-wan. The space scenes were great and I wish they had given us more including more Anakin fighting in space. At the end of the movie we once again see the Jedi’s failure. In their arrogance the masters refuse to choose Anakin as a padawan forcing Obi-wan’s hand.

Final Thoughts

I have gone though all range of emotions regarding TPM over the past 16 years, I loved it when I first saw just because it was new Star Wars, I hated because I could only focus on its faults, and finally I’ve come to love it again while still recognizing it is not perfect. There things I wish had been done better however it does compete for best of the prequels for me and it is a great addition to the Star Wars mythos.

The Episodic Order Reviews #2: Attack of the Clones!

Attack of the Clones! I’m doing a series of reviews leading up to The Force Awakens in chronological order. Last week, I reviewed the Phantom Menace. In the end, TPM is a pretty good film, but AotC just falls short of it in my opinion. I think it’s the weakest of the movies, due to a few small low points. The high points soar pretty high, balancing it out to make overall a decent film. Although it’s my least favorite, it’s still Star Wars and still a fun time, and still has some excellent moments.

The Low Points

yoda_AotC

Some of the Yoda shots seem weak. Weaker than the BluRay version of TPM at least. Some of the close up shots just seem flat and a little too fluid at the same time. Just doesn’t come across as a physical object. Other shots look very good. When Yoda is seen at a distance, the detail is spot-on, and he looks like the puppet from ESB, but there are just those few scenes. In particular toward the beginning when Yoda says “Impossible to see the future is…”. Great line, but the CGI animation work just doesn’t pan out for me.

Obi Wan’s laugh in the elevator with Anakin just doesn’t seem real. I’m sorry, and I love Ewan McGregor’s performance for the most part and he carries most of the film, but that laugh just didn’t come off as genuine.

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I don’t like the sound design for Zam Wesell’s speeder. It just sounds jarring to me and takes me out of the moment. Maybe that was the effect they are going for, but for me it just is kind of irksome. There are some parts of the whole speeder chase through Coruscant that bother me or just don’t seem right. The sound design, some of the dialogue. Even some of the CGI doesn’t work as well as it should.

Theres a point when Padme and Anakin are sitting in the grass talking, and they both let out a really fake laugh after Anakin says “I like two or three [politicians], but I’m not really sure about one of them”. It just jumps out at me. It is sort of a sigh crossed with a laugh. It gives the impression that the two of them are already sick of making the movie, which is not the impression you want to have.

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The frustrated love scene. This is the one where Padme wears the black dress that has a choker built in. I think the design of this dress was made by George Lucas, and it is made to be symbolic of choking, in the sense that the neck part of the dress looks like Vader’s hand. All that stuff is excellent and downright brilliant. The part that gets me is when Anakin says “I wish I could just wish away my feelings, but I can’t” and squints his eyes. It just doesn’t feel right or real. Also, when Anakin says “I’m in agony” just doesn’t feel like it is suitable. Maybe it’s because Hayden doesn’t convey the necessary gravitas to use a word like “agony” instead of “I’m pissed!” or something else. I don’t know. I know I’m not the only one that feels this scene falls a little short in places.

“I am a slow learner”. Sounds weird, doesn’t come out right. Feels lame. Nuff said.

I think that is about it. Just those couple of scenes. I feel like my issues with the movie are pretty minor, but the problem is that a lot of these little moments tend to have a ripple effect and take down entire scenes with them. That’s unfortunate because to me they stick out like a sore thumb. I’m not saying I could do a better job. I’m sure if I were to write and direct Attack of the Clones it would be much, much worse. However, it’s just frustrating because so much of the film works. It’s just these little scenes that should have been rejected and replaced in reshoots or something, or rewritten and reworked. But again, that’s easy for me to say.

The High Points

I think Hayden Christiansen for the most part plays the part pefectly, apart from the couple scenes I mention above. Yeah, at times he comes across as a bit of a whiny, angsty teenager, but I think that was the point. I think that was exactly what he was supposed to be. I actually like the scene where he confesses to Padme that he killed the Sand people. I think he hits every note right. I know some people don’t like that, but it works for me. In short, I think this is a very tough part and I think he nailed it for the most part.

JarJarSenate

I love the scene where Palpatine manipulates Jar Jar. The expression on Jar Jar’s face is just perfect when he is sitting there contemplating the situation what Mas Amedda says “If only Senator Amidala were here”. As if little gears are turning. In fact, it is this scene, and how well it works that makes me reject the Darth Jar Jar theory. I discussed this theory a little bit in my last review of TPM, and I did a little excursion into the Darth Jar Jar theory. Although I do think the early concept art Indie Revolver posted of Snoke does look like it has the same shape as Jar Jar, in the end, I think that the theory has been taken too far by the internet. Although I think it is possible that Jar Jar, on account of him being so damned lucky, might be unwittingly tapping into the Force, I think he is still an idiot. If anything, I think he was manipulated by Darth SIdious and was never in control. Even if the whole part about Jar Jar using the Force is true, and even if the idea of Jar Jar manipulating some people is true, I think at best he was a pawn of Darth Sidious.

obiWanJangoFight

All the scenes with Jango Fett and Obi Wan are great. These two just went well with each other. The chemistry was there. I love their few interactions and wish there was more. In general, Temura Morrison is excellent, as is Ewan; therefore, putting them together is superb.

The encounter of Dooku and Obi Wan holds up nicely. I especially love the moment when Dooku says “It may be difficult to secure your release”. That look on his face…This scene is in many ways the “I am your father moment” of AotC in the ring composition. Not because Dooku says “I am your master’s master” in so many words, because that was given such a matter-of-fact way that it wasn’t even that interesting. It was because Dooku asks Obi Wan to join him to destroy the Sith, just as Vader asked Luke to join him to defeat the Emperor in ESB. Does it compare to ESB in any way in terms of quality? Of course not. But it’s still a decent scene nonetheless and holds up.

The last thirty minutes of this movie are fantastic. From basically the the point at which Mace Windu walks out into the arena the the end is great. In fact the cinematography and directing of Mace Windu entering the arena and ultimately taking out Jango is almost perfect. I certainly couldn’t imagine what could be improved. I’m in the camp that the Yoda fight scene was awesome. Yeah, it isn’t as cool as it was in 2002 when I saw this movie countless times, shelling out for the awesome projector at the Metreon in San Francisco, viewing after viewing, but it still is exciting for me despite how jading the past 13 years have been.

In conclusion

For me, the Phantom Menace flowed quite nicely, with no scenes for me that kind of fall flat and stand out as jarring. That’s why it ranks higher on my list than AotC. There are just a couple of minor points of AotC that I trip on, but for  the most part, it’s pretty entertaining.

Good movie, but weak at times. 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Modified Machete Order: The Empire Strikes Back Review

Empire Strikes Back, may favorite Star Wars film. I finished watching this again this morning and took copious notes that I didn’t really need because I have seen this movie two hundreds times or so. You can read my A New Hope Review here and next week will be The Phantom Menace. Lets jump right in!

The opening scroll sets the tone for this movie to me. It boils down to Death Star is gone but now the Empire is really pissed off and the rebels are in trouble. Our first shot is of probe droids being sent out into the galaxy and we see one land on an ice planet, Hoth. Next is our shot of Luke which shows the droid land on Hoth again. I don’t get showing it twice and I don’t like it. Its honestly a flaw I don’t think I ever really noticed until now. Luke and Han converse and Han still calls Luke kid. There is a brotherly feel to these two. Then on a planet with very little life a giant predator attacks Luke. What does it live off of? Anyway Han is back at base unaware that Luke is in trouble and lets the Rebels know he is leaving to pay off Leia. Han and Leia have a confrontation about her feelings for him(and his for her) that Han gets the better of. Though why he can’t go pay off Jabba and come right back is beyond me. Not sure why this is a big deal. Eventually people notice Luke isn’t back yet and when C3PO informs Han he’s both worried and a smart ass. “Impossible man” says C3PO and the way Han speaks to him I can understand why. Han then takes off after Luke despite warnings he will die. Luke is his friend and Han will die for his friends. Luke gets away and we see a new force power and then we see a force ghost right before Han finds him. Yay everyone is safe.

Battle of Hoth

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After Luke is recovered we have a little reunion where Han is once again a smart ass but Leia gets the best of the exchange by kissing Luke. This is not weird because the writers did not know they were related at the time, I swear. Han and Chewie investigate the probe droid and the Rebels begin their evacuation. Back with the Empire we see a Super Star destroyer and damn its big. The Admiral is condescending to Vader when Vader says Hoth is where the Rebels are, its like he doesn’t know or believe what he has heard about him. Or thinks he is safe which no one is. When they come out of hyperspace the rebels are ready with a shield up. Vader blames the Admiral and kills him. Vader ain’t playing around. Captain Piett gets a promotion though so that’s nice! The battle of Hoth is visually very cool but for me what makes it great is the music. John Williams takes a good battle and just makes it incredible. We get to see Leia not as a Princess but as a military leader also which is pretty cool. Han has to convince her to leave and ends up taking her off planet himself. Vader just misses out on them. Luke and R2 head out after the battle and instead of meeting up with the rest of the rebels Luke heads toward Dagobah. R2 obviously thinks something is wrong with Luke and offers to take control. R2 is definitely worried Luke has gone crazy.

Han and Leia

I’m going to follow the Character story lines for the rest of this review until they met up. So lets jump into what is going on with Leia and Han! After leaving Hoth they are being chased by Imperials ships. Three Star Destroyers and a bunch of TIE fighters however Han can out maneuver them. When he goes to hit the hyper-drive it fails and C3PO is finally allowed to finish a sentence to inform them he noticed it was busted. Han and Chewie attempt to fix it on the fly but have to head back to cockpit when they encounter an asteroid field. Han does what Han does and enters the asteroid field despite everyone else thinking its crazy. He is able to successfully destroy his pursuers and find them a hiding place to repair the Falcon. Han an leia are left in the cockpit alone and one of my favorite all time scenes happens. (Ends at 1:57)

Han once again gets the better of the exchange. Han and Leia then have a great little flirt/fight scene when they finally kiss. Unfortunately C3PO ruins it. Han really does care  and you can see it in his face, Leia looks confused. Han finally gets the Falcon put back together and then realizes they are not in a cave. Leia is a little slow on the pick up though. When the hyper-drive fails again Han pulls a cool little trick out of his pocket and hides ON a star destroyer. This leads to Vader killing yet another Imperial. After this trick its as though Leia realizes how much more to Han there is and she may have been selling him short and they don’t fight again for the rest of the movie. They head to Cloud City unfortunately Boba Fett knew of Han’s trick and was ready to follow.

Once they land at cloud city we meet Lando Calrissian and he seems nice. Honestly I do think Lando is happy to see Han and is in an unenviable position. Lando promises to repair the Falcon and sets up Han and Leia with nice digs and clothes. When he leads Han, Leia and Chewie to Vader he is being honest. Han’s reaction is pure awesome. He puts himself between Vader and Leia immediately and begins firing at Vader, no hesitation. Later Han is tortured and we find out Vader is continuing to worsen the deal Lando made with him. Lando reveals that the deal wasn’t about Han and Leia its about Luke. This doesn’t mitigate him lying to his friends but he obviously didn’t actively give them to Vader and thought they would be left unharmed and in the end free to go. Han and Leia have their moment before Han is put into carbonite. After this Leia is once again slow on the uptake as Lando sets in motion to free them. It makes me wonder if Chewie hadn’t attacked him would they have had a chance to catch up to Boba Fett and free Han. Lando and the rest of them head to the Falcon after not catching up to Boba Fett in time. Once on the Falcon they take off and another aspect of Williams score comes to the front. They strings in unison with the lasers hitting Falcon is just a great shot. They are all set to leave when Leia has Chewie turn around to get Luke. Speaking of Luke lets catch up to what he’s been doing.

Dagobah

After Luke lands on Dagobah he meets Yoda and is quite frankly kind of a petulant child. Rude and dismissive its as though he has spent too much time hanging around Han, which he probably has. Yoda however rolls with it acting like a simple crazy little creature, and its awesome. Finally Yoda speaks to Obi-wan and Luke realizes what a fool he has been. I noticed Yoda’s speech pattern becomes normalized once he stops acting and starts talking to Obi-wan. Anyway Luke does a bunch of training with Yoda and fails in the cave because he took his weapons. Luke’s x-wing sinks further into the swamp and Yoda challenges him to lift it out with the force. Yoda describes what the force really is and how size does not matter. Its quite beautiful. Luke fails and tells Yoda he asks the for impossible. Yoda then lifts the X-wing and Luke is again put in his place and properly ashamed. Luke then has a vision of his friends in trouble and decides to leave. I’m not sure why Yoda doesn’t come with him here. Surely the two of them would easily defeat Vader right? Yoda tells Luke to mind what he gas learned and it will save him. He and Obi-wan speak and he mentions another hope.

Once Luke lands at Cloud City he runs into both Boba Fett and Leia but he does nothing to pursue either which is odd since that’s kind of the reason he is there. In the end he faces Vader in what is easily the best Lightsaber battle in any of the movies. There is emotion in every scene and great dialog. Luke obviously thinks he can handle Vader at first and Vader underestimates Luke. By the end of the battle Vader has stopped holding back and shown who is the better fighter. Then there is the reveal, Vader is Luke’s father and Luke is given the chance to Join him. Luke chooses a possible death instead falls toward the planet. Luke reaches out to Leia and Leia responds getting Chewie to go back for Luke.

The Ending 

Once they rescue Luke they end up meeting with the rest of the Rebellion. Luke gets a new hand and Lando is earning his way in to the fold by tracking down Jabba and the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Things look terrible for the group but there is still hope.

Modified Machete Order: A New Hope Review

We have decided to re-watch and review our favorite films in anticipation of The Force awakens. I’ll be doing a modified machete order which is 4,5,1,2,3,6. So lets jump right into it!

This shot is pure awesome. I didn’t understand how great it was until I saw it in the Theater in for SE in 97. The rebel ship comes and you can’t help bu think “That’s a big ship” then the Star Destroyer comes in and it just keeps coming. This works on the TV but its just not the same as it was on the big screen. We spend almost all of the next 20 minutes following two droids around. In today’s terms that would be like opening the first Iron Man with 20 minutes of Happy and Pepper doing stuff and bickering. I don’t people really get how unusual that is. We do meet Princess Leia and Vader during that 20 minutes but their importance isn’t known yet.

Finally we meet Luke and he is kind of a dork that works on the family farm. Honestly I’m glad they cut the scenes they shot of Luke at Tosche station because they make him look even worse. However John Williams score really helps you relate to Luke when he’s looking out at the setting suns of Tatooine. Finally the plot starts to cook when Luke and C3PO take off after R2D2 and meet the crazy old wizard Ben Kenobi. At the same time we see Vader display the power of the force by chocking a rude imperial from across a table. The intrigued but non nonchalant look on Tarkin’s face is awesome. Back with Luke and Ben, Ben looks uncomfortable when he describes how Luke’s father died which is great because at this point I don’t think George Lucas had Vader as Luke’s father.Luke wants to go with Ben to save the princess but he is weighed down by trying to do right by his Uncle. Fortunately the Empire gets rid of that obstacle in the worst way possible and Luke decides to follow in his Father’s footsteps to become a Jedi.

As we enter Mos Eisley we see yet another force power as Ben influences a couple of Storm Troopers. Luke shows us who he really is, a naive young man that is putting on bravado to compensate. His line “I’m ready for anything” shows us who he wants to be or at least thinks he should be. He is quickly shown that he is not ready for anything and Ben has to bust out his lightsaber to put some punks in their place. Ben and Luke are then introduced to our final protagonist Han Solo. Solo is a bit of a braggart here but there is a confidence there that is sincere. I’m watching the special editions so Greedo shot first but whatever Solo is still cold as hell as he tosses the bartender a coin “Sorry about the mess”. Then Han talks to Jabba, once again Han acts like a tough guy. I hate the walk on Jabba’s tail part. Just have him walk behind Jabba and disappear for a second. He has no dialog as he walks behind him so keeping his face in frame is dumb.

Han and crew escape headed to Alderaan and Luke gets some Force training with his lightsaber. Han is looking for approval and doesn’t get it so he mocks Luke. Ben ups the ante and basically shuts up Han and gives Luke a confidence boost. We learn a lot about Leia and the Empire in the destruction of Alderaan scene. Leia is willing to lie even with the death of her home planet and billions of lives are in the balance to keep the rebellion safe. Tarkin and the Empire by proxy is willing to destroy billions of innocent lives to keep the Empire safe. Same goals but yet completely different and you just know it. Great scene. Next we have the Millennium Falcon pulled into the Death Star, finally all of our players are in the same place. Ben goes to ensure they can escape and Luke plays to Han’s weakness(Money!) to get him to help rescue the princess.

The scene depicted above has always been a favorite. When Han shoots the com panel and say “Boring conversation anyway” its funny, shows us more about Han, and seems real. Finally all three are in scenes together and you see who they are. Leia is more mature than either of them, you see she is used to being in command and expects people to follow her orders. Han is independent and has no idea what to do when someone challenges him especially a younger woman that acts like he is an idiot. And Luke is idealistic he came in with good intentions and isn’t quite ready for how the best laid plans fall apart. The way they interact and their dialog for the entire death star sequence and escape is fantastic you see there is more to Han than he lets on. The fight between Ben and Vader is simple but good. They never really seem fully into the fight though. I wonder if Vader is concerned that Ben might beat him again. Either way Ben came into the fight ready to die and once he has Luke as an audience he sacrifices himself. One final push for Luke to accept the role of Jedi.

And finally we have the big battle. Han has taken off to save his skin and Luke uses a little pity to get a kiss from Leia. Once the battle starts its all action all the time. After two failed attempts on the reactor shot Luke, Biggs and Wedge go in full steam ahead. Luke was given the go ahead to lead the final assault by Red leader. He must have impressed because Wedge and Biggs were both part of the rebellion forces before Luke even left Tatooine. As he approaches his final shot Luke loses both R2 and Biggs who he was obviously friends with. Vader is bearing down on him recognizing that the Force is with Luke when Han comes out of nowhere to save the day. Luke makes the perfect shot and they all go back to celebrate though Vader lives to see another day.

A New Hope definitely starts slow but once Luke and Obi-wan get together the plot picks up the pace and never slows down. The stakes get higher and problems get more difficult. Its an absolutely fantastic piece of cinema.

Rating: A

Follow me on twitter @mazlow01 and stay tuned at SpoiledBlueMilk.com on MWF for more updates (@spoiledbluemilk)

The Episodic Order Reviews #1: Darth Jar Jar and The Phantom Menace

Howdy folks! Davestrrr here. As part of our countdown to the Force Awakens, I’m going review the Star Wars Saga in chronological order, every Friday until The Force Awakens! While I’m watching TPM this time, I’m going to have some fun and also contemplate the “Darth Jar Jar” theory going around. This sure sounds like an exciting task to me, so let’s get to it.

PodracerAnakin

I’m among the older, original trilogy fans that likes the Prequels. The first time I saw TPM, I was 23 years old. My first reaction was “I like it”. My later reaction was “I still like it”. I was staying in Los Alamos, NM for the summer of ’99 and I saw that movie like every weekend at the local theater with a couple of other fans. Admittedly, it was a theater that only showed 2 movies and it was the only thing to do in town. I didn’t mind, and I liked the excuse to see the movie again and again. Yeah, there were some slow parts, but it was worth it for the good parts. I remember loving the fight scene with Obi Wan and Darth Maul. Still do.

Watching it again tonight was fun, but I must say I’ve seen it many many times since. On the blue-ray, a few things stand out to me. The CGI work on Yoda is amazing. Yoda is way more emotive and better in this version compared to the puppet. This is pretty much well known that this is the case, it just seemed especially true to me tonight.

A couple of CGI characters still look rubbery. Some of the pod racing pilots look a little dated, but for the most part, I think the special effects in TPM have held up quite well.

Personally, I think Jake Lloyd played the part of Anakin well. Some people wanted him to be darker, but I think it works out well by contrasting the levity of TPM with the darkness of RotS. If anything, I think Ewan McGregor’s performance could have been amped up. It seems really subdued in this film and it feels strange that he plays such a small “side role” for most of the film.

One thing jumps out to me that “Luck” plays a big role. I mean dumb luck. Let me take that back, there is some things that look like luck that are really the Force, and there are things that look like dumb luck. For example, Qui-gon winning with Watto’s chance-cube was the Force. Anakin blowing up the Droid control ship, was dumb luck. He is just fiddling with the controls and ends up shooting the main reactor. He just seems like a kid trying out the controls on a new video game, and just happens to get the high score. Makes you wonder, given how strong with the Force Anakin is, was he tapping into the Force? Was it not luck, but in fact some sort of playful use of the Force? Were other examples of dumb luck that won the day also part of the Force?

So, I have to bring up a new theory that has emerged on the internet. The “Darth Jar Jar” theory. If you haven’t read it, head over to the original post, or here for a good synopsis, here for a skeptical view, or the subreddit devoted to this theory.

jarJarSummersault
Not many people in the Star Wars universe can do a standing, spinning leap like this, but Jedi , Sith, and Jar Jar can. Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Although I find this theory unlikely, I think it is a lot of fun and great to hear a new, well thought-out theory that looks at TPM in an original way, over 15 years after the movie was released. It brings up the interesting point: how did a bumbling fool make his way to one of the highest positions in the galaxy? If you consider for a moment that he isn’t a complete fool, you have to start wondering if he is a Force-sensitive genius for accomplishing what he has accomplished. Not to mention, Jar Jar, with his glowing yellow eyes (I think brighter than most Gungans), always kind of looked like a Sith.

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General Binks effortlessly defeats more droids than any other Gungan.

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Jar Jar taking out droids. Image Credit: Lucasfilm

He waves his hands around at key points in the film to get what he wants.

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The list goes on. One thing that did stand out to me in support of this theory was what looked like a smile during Qui-gon’s Furneral, right before he looks down. Check this out:

I saw this in this reddit post here, but I don’t think his gif does justice to it. It’s better to see it in the context of the video. I may have also took more notice because it reminded me of the smile on Palpatine’s face when Queen Amidala prepares to leave Coruscant. You know, the one right before the wipe. That smile was a little wink wink to the fans about Palpatine. Jar Jar’s smile felt eerily similar.

Unlikely though it may be, this is still a cool way to look at TPM with some fresh eyes.

On the whole, I think TPM holds up pretty well for a 15 year old movie. Still a lot of fun. Although it is different than ANH, it came out over 20 years later in a very different time. I think it suited its time quite well.

4 out of 5 stars

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