Tag: Star Wars

Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Making a Star Wars movie in 2018 is fraught with dangers. Lurking within the dangerous fog that surrounds the only safe path are fans who have invested in personal visions of the universe based on recently de-canonized stories, critics eager to espouse opinions about franchise fatigue, and just when you think you’ve made it out with your precious cargo, here come journalists ready to pounce upon any reports of troubles on the set or changes in filmmakers. It’s almost impossible to avoid all of these traps and hungry monsters, and the worst thing is that there’s really no way of knowing when one will pop up. Did you hire directors whose trademark is their sense of spontaneity to make your movie that has to slot precisely into a rigid canon, then fire them when you realized that they weren’t going to button up and act right? Oops, there’s 6 months of bad news stories. Did you think it would be a good idea to focus a little on a prop that had accidentally become important after previous filmmakers cut the justifying scene from three movies ago? Well, now you’re scrambling to make up for a horrible movie that everybody hated (one that’s actually the best in the franchise), so now they’re going to hate your movie too. Is your film in part a prequel and in part a set-up for further untold stories? That’s not good storytelling, it’s just an excuse to be money-grubbing hacks. What’s a moviegoer to do?

A personal response to Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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I don’t like Star Wars. Wait, stop, don’t go yet. Let me clarify. I don’t like Star Wars movies very much. When I was around 7 years old, I got both the Original Trilogy (hereafter OT) and the Indiana Jones Trilogy on VHS at roughly the same time. I started with Star Wars and found myself enjoying but not falling head over heals with the films. Then I watched the Indiana Jones movies and fell in love with them. Here’s a movie for me! Whips! Nazi punching! The best part of Star Wars given his own films and no whiny kids to muck it all up (ok, well, at least not in 2/3 of them). That isn’t to say that I cast Star Wars aside entirely. In fact, if you looked at my toy collection for the next 5 or so years of my life, you’d think I was the biggest Star Wars fan there was. I did love the extended Star Wars universe. I read a bunch of the books, ignoring the generally bad prose for the pretty fun world-(or universe)-building. As I got older I got really into a few Star Wars videogames, especially the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series and, of course, both Knights of the Old Republic games. When the Prequel Trilogy began I was 11 years old and of course I loved The Phantom Menace because I was the perfect age for it. I came home and fought the classic broom-handle-lightsaber battles with my friends. I played the terrible videogame that followed the events of the movie and the fantastic podracer game. I got Lego sets and the action figures. I made up stories of my own because the stories (and most of the primary characters) weren’t all that interesting to me. This is my Star Wars apostasy, I’m a spiritual Star Wars fan, not a fundamentalist. And that is why The Last Jedi is, for me, the first truly great Star Wars movie.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 19 – Your Favorite Action Film

Day 19 – Your Favorite Action Film
Is there a character more iconic than Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones? You’d be hard pressed to find one, I think. There’s something about his cavalier method of handling the tight spots he gets himself in that just makes you want to be him. The guy that just shoots the master swordsman and throws a Nazi off a blimp, explaining he had “No ticket,” is probably the coolest guy ever. On top of the superb character work, the direction of this movie is impeccable. Spielberg gets the grandeur of the archaeological dig and the near slapstick fight scenes and the sly dialogue all pitch perfect. There’s not a sour note in the film. It also holds up remarkably well. There’s something about its adherence to classical storytelling styles and ideas that just works. Unlike, say, Star Wars, it’s not trying to be anything other than a roaring good time. There’s nothing about good and evil to clog it up. It’s just a guy going after an artifact and a girl.
  • Han Solo may have been Ford’s breakout role but I think Indiana Jones is what he should be remembered for. It plays to his strength’s perfectly.
  • The fourth film in the series is not the abomination that some would have you believe. If you think that surviving an atom bomb in a fridge is any sillier than the Holy Ghost melting your face off or grabbing your heart out of your chest or a cup that keeps you alive for centuries you have another thing coming. Crystal Skull is made in the exact same spirit as the other three films.
  • “We named the dog Indiana.” Later movie but I still love it.
  • Trailer! How can you not love it? The music, the dead guys on sticks. 30 years ago or today, this movie is great.

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 16 – A Film You Used to Love, But Now Hate

Day 16 – A Film You Used to Love, But Now Hate
Here we go. If you didn’t already hate me for disliking Aliens be prepared to quit reading in disgust.

When I was young my mother purchased me the VHS box set of the original trilogy. I watched these films over and over and over again. They were some kind of wonderful. Then the re-done versions came to theaters and I saw all of them. It should have been magical but I don’t recall any of it. When The Phantom Menace came out I loved it. My friend and I (both 11) returned after a Friday night showing and busted out the broomsticks to play at being Jedi and Sith. Because The Phantom Menace was so awesome. What I’m saying is that I was young and stupid. I mostly stopped watching Star Wars after Episode III arrived (and I thought that one was pretty good, too). I returned to the original series recently and, while there are moments of greatness (“I know.”) it’s mostly just poorly written nonsense for kids. Now, let me be clear, there are plenty of movies ostensibly made for kids that are great in their own right; Where the Wild Things Are and the majority of Disney and Pixar films are still great to this 23 year old, among others. But Star Wars is just stupid. From the annoying main character to the horrible dialogue and the silly robot characters, everything is just too dumb for me to enjoy. If this movie wasn’t so well loved I’d just be indifferent to it. But if I tell somebody that I don’t like Star Wars they’ll get all red faced and try to punch me. It’s happened. I really hope that as the generation of people that saw it as a kid in the theater dies out it will be recognized as mostly bad.
  • That’s not to say nothing good came from Star Wars. Knights of the Old Republic is a terrific video game and there are some books I recall liking in the Expanded Universe (of course, I was a kid when I read those, too).
  • If you want to see something better than Star Wars I’d suggest the Indiana Jones series. It takes the only good part of Star Wars and gives him his own thing to do.
  • Most of the reason why Indiana Jones is better than Star Wars is that it’s directed by Spielberg instead of Lucas and Lucas didn’t actually write the scripts. As Harrison Ford said about Lucas’s dialogue, “You can write this shit, George, but you can’t say it.” Agreed.