Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ranking The Star Wars Movies

5,4,1,2,3,6,7,R1,8
.  Still like them all though.​

I listened to a 90 minute Rian Johnson interview, and concluded that he is not a logical thinker. He was more concerned with the aesthetics of the film as opposed to whether or not certain parts made sense. This is quite disappointing. 

I have hope that J.J. Abrams can fix things. What is shocking is that they pretty much admitted that they had no plan going from one movie to the next. George Lucas was completely different because he had everything mapped out.
   They had to delay episode 9 because they are still trying to figure out what the story is going to be.

Harrison Ford tutored Alden Ehrenreich on how to be Han Solo

https://youtu.be/VyqF5Re6Cqw

Friday, February 2, 2018

Why the new Star Wars trilogy is dead, and how it could have been better.

I didn't want to watch the entire 36 minute video, but his comments up to 9 minutes are dead on. 


Maybe this is beating a dead horse, since all the flaws of The Last Jedi have been pointed out ad nauseam by youtube posters.

I have commented on several videos that I think that it is possible for a movie to have many obvious flaws and still be entertaining.


Monday, January 29, 2018

The Last Jedi

I was just thinking about the scene where a very youthful looking Kylo Ren says "Let the past die.  Kill it if  you have to."    It is written for millennials.  This whole movie is a calculated attempt to appeal to millennials who Disney thinks are going to spend the most money.  I think that it disregards the old Star Wars fans, or at least has less regard for them.  I already knew that there was some attempt to appeal to millennials, but in thinking about it I realized just how one sided the movie is.


The Last Jedi Deserves All The Backlash!

In response to ...


If Luke changed, then that is the prerogative of the writers; it is their story. Even though it is not what I would have chosen, if everything turned out the way I expected then it would be boring.  I am much more bothered by the plot holes that you could drive a truck through.  Despite these problems, there is a great deal in the film that I do like. 


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rian Johnson Podcast

Out of curiosity I listened to this extended interview of Rian Johnson.  It is long.  It is an hour and 47 minutes long.

Since The Last Jedi has plot holes you could drive a truck through, and after seeing the title, 'Rian Johnson Talks 'The Last Jedi' Criticism, Says He "Wouldn't Change a Thing"', I had to know how Rian Johnson responds to criticism about the plot holes.

Well, after listening, I conclude that Rian Johnson doesn't have a clue as to why these things are plot holes, and why those things might turn off the audience.  I can only guess that he looks at the story from an artistic point of view and not a logical one.  And to think that he is going to be directing the next trilogy?

Unfortunately the interview doesn't talk about Social Justice Warrior messages, which would have been a very interesting topic.


--

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Last Jedi

I saw The Last Jedi on December 14nth and then again 2 weeks after that. After another 4 weeks, I would like to see it for a third time, either this week or next.

As for all the people who didn't like it, the movie was designed to defy what everyone expected and that was too much for some people. It turns the Star Wars mythology on its head, and it has a few plot holes. My position is that a movie can have a few flaws and still be pretty entertaining, which it is.

Monday, January 22, 2018

How people's expectations affect their reaction to a movie.


'I am really glad that you brought up expectations and how that biases people when judging a movie, which is a concept that I hadn't thought much about. I suspect that the reason so many people are negative on The Phantom Menace is because of their expectations. Personally, I had a blast with the movie and I think that it is almost as entertaining as the best Star Wars films. Although episodes 7 and 8 have some plot holes you could drive a truck through, I still enjoyed these movies. There is enough good stuff to make them worthwhile. What people didn't like about episode 8, which is that the movie defied all of their expectations, made it more entertaining for me because it was something new and different.'

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Last Days in the Desert

If you want to see a low budget gem of a movie, watch "Last Days in the Desert" where Ewan McGregor plays both Jesus and Satan. There is something compelling about watching a man on a journey, especially on a journey to find himself. Actually, this is not a very religious movie. There are no miracles. The question of Jesus's divinity is left up to the viewer to decide. He could just be a crazy man wandering the desert. The final scene feels out of place, because the movie goes straight from the Crucifixion to modern day tourists taking snapshots of the same desert Jesus supposedly wandered in. Had they given us a hint of resurrection, even a slight stirring under the burial cloth, it would have given the movie a religious meaning. Such an ending, regardless of if you believe or not, would be a satisfying conclusion to the story because it would have shown that everything that went before it served a purpose. Instead the story is ambiguous.

Rating: * * * .5

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Darkest Hour


If you knew nothing about Winston Churchill, hadn't listened to his speeches, and hadn't watched other shows and documentaries about him, then you might conclude that Darkest Hour is a great inspirational movie about the man.  The problem is that it is not historically accurate, but instead revisionist, portraying Churchill as an indecisive, slightly befuddled old man, who only made up his mind to continue to fight against the Nazis, and not surrender, after an inspirational, but completely fictional ride in the subway.  This distortion of history I think is inexcusable.

The one thing that defined Churchill was his decisiveness and his resolve. 

Gary Oldman in his layers of makeup is not totally convincing to me as Churchill.

However, Oldman's performance is strong enough to make you feel like you are watching the real thing.

The movie gets some mileage out of Churchill's speeches, but only three of them, and the ones in the movie are greatly abbreviated.  Had they given the full speeches, it might have bored some people, but it would have given the audience more of a historical context, and felt more like you were there witnessing these things for the first time.  The movie finishes with his "Never Surrender" speech, which in the film is delivered like an inspirational call to battle, like a Saint Crispin's day speech.  However, if you listen to Churchill's actual delivery, it is much more somber.  Another problem with the way the movie portrayed this speech is that it shows it being broadcast on the radio at the same time that it was being delivered to Parliament.  Actually, Churchill gave the speech on the radio to the British people the day after he delivered it to Parliament.

Since the movie only covers a 30 day period, from May 1940, to June 1940, which was probably one of the most critical months in England's history, I feel that there was so much more that they could have given us about Churchill and the remainder of the war.  There are other shows and documentaries that have been far move informative, such as Into The Storm.  Even Netflix's The Crown has some interesting things to say about Churchill.

It is not a complete trainwreck of a movie.  The story of Churchill is inspiring in any context, and Oldman's performance is noteworthy and might even win an Oscar.  Much of the movie centers on how Churchill's own cabinet and even the king opposed him, thus giving us a story worth watching.

The film ties in well with the movie Dunkirk, which is far better, since the events of both films take place during the same period.

Rating:  * * * 



Friday, January 5, 2018

More The Last Jedi comments.



In response to this second video, I made the following comment ...

"Let me make an analogy with Spider Man 3.  The last 25 to 30 minutes of that movie were pretty terrible, but the first 90 minutes I found very entertaining.  Overall, to me the movie felt like it was worth watching, despite an obvious flaw.  

With both Star Wars movies in this trilogy, I notice some major plot holes, more so in The Last Jedi, and what feels like missing information.  There is still way too much that hasn't been explained.  

However, The Last Jedi seems to be designed to defy all our expectations as a form of entertainment.  They seem to be deliberately withholding information, like the backstory of all the major characters, so as to more easily surprise us.  Part of this is because the structure of the film crams too much stuff in it, so there isn't room for a lot of exposition.  This makes it feel compressed, but that is part of why it is entertaining.   The structure of the film feels like it is experimental, because they are not following any normal path.  You could attribute this to bad story telling, or corporate boardroom shenanigans where they tried to put too much in the movie, or maybe it is secretly brilliant.

Regardless, even if parts of the movie are bad, there is way too much stuff in the film that I like.  I think that there is a lot going on under the surface that I hope gets explained later, and I noticed way more detail on my second viewing."

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Some very interesting analysis of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Spoilers.)

This analysis might be really interesting even for those who haven't seen the movie, because it is a love story:


In regard to this, I think that there is much going on in the film that is deeper than what appears on the surface.

Some of the die hard fans hate the movie, but that is because it did not conform to their expectations.  It seems like everything in the movie was deliberately designed to be different than what people were expecting.   The Last Jedi 2nd Viewing Big Realization

Also:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This will be my final review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, having seen it for a second time.  It is the middle film of the third Star Wars trilogy.  This trilogy, along with some anthology films, are being made because Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012.

There is something special about seeing these movies a second time, because generally what happens is that any flaws that might exist become less noticeable or at least easier to ignore.  In addition, you notice new things with each viewing.  This was definitely true for watching Star Wars:  The Force Awakens, which had a few problems, not the least of which was that the story was somewhat a remake of the original Star Wars film, and the movie is so stingy in providing the audience with information that it made it feel like it was full of plot holes.  The other major complaint was that the main character, Rey, was so talented in everything that it made her feel like a "Mary Sue", which is a character that is so perfect in everything that the character becomes annoying or unbelievable.  However, especially on my third viewing of the film, I began to understand Star Wars:  The Force Awakens better and really appreciate what they were trying to do, even if it did have a few flaws.

Whereas Star Wars:  The Force Awakens in many ways copies the original film, A New Hope, the new movie contains some elements similar to both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Having already copied many things from the entire first trilogy, the next movie might have to do something completely different.

After seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi two weeks ago, I watched videos on youtube everyday where people complain about different aspects of this film.  A large number of people actually hate this movie, but these are usually the die hard fans who feel the movie strayed too far from its roots by slightly changing the Star Wars mythology.  Plus the new film, like its predecessor, still has some plot holes.  Furthermore, even though people were counting on it to fill in information missing from the previous movie, it only provides enough information so that audience can follow along.  There are questions that we may never get an answer to, such as the origin of Snoke, although it has been hinted that some of these questions may be answered in upcoming Star Wars books, which is an annoyingly clever form of marketing by Disney and Lucasfilm to get you to buy books.

There were three other major complaints about this film.  The first is in the way the character Luke Skywalker is handled, because he is no longer a hero.  After experiencing a major setback, Luke abandons his friends, the rebellion, the Jedi Order, and The Force.  Even the actor Mark Hamill repeatedly complained about this.  The second complaint is that many people feel like the movie is hitting us over the head with Social Justice Warrior messages, which seems pretty obvious when watching it.  The third complaint is that movie has too many moments of levity.  It is not a comedy, but it really pushes the humor, most of which works, but some of it falls flat.

There has been a kind of backlash.  The Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score is 91%, down from an initial 93%, but the audience score is only 52%.  That's a huge difference between critics and audience, although there has been some debate on how accurate the audience score is on Rotten Tomatoes.  More importantly, ticket sales are way down.

Given all the negativity, I about convinced myself Star Wars: The Last Jedi might not be worth a second viewing, despite feeling thoroughly entertained and emotionally moved the first time around.  I was worried that the flaws would stick out too much.

I have never been so happy to be wrong.  Sure the film has a few flaws, as many movies do, but the second time around is still very entertaining and emotionally moving.  This drowns out any plot holes, political agendas being pushed, or confusion the movie has caused the audience about the characters.

The one thing that the film does well is defy all audience expectations, and that makes it more entertaining.  At one point Luke says to Rey, "This is not going to go the way you think."  Well, that describes the entire movie, which is maybe why some people have a problem with it.  To some extent it breaks the mold of what a Star Wars movie could or should be, but the result is kind of special.  It is also rich in texture; I noticed way more things on the second viewing.  There is so much that happens that goes by very quickly.

The movie is a fitting send off for the late Carrie Fisher.  Although she does not have a ton of screen time, it is enough, and her performance is more interesting than in the previous movie.  Her daughter, Billie Lourd, also has a more active role in this film.  The end credits have this dedication:

In loving memory of our princess,
Carrie Fisher.

The movie could have ended one minute sooner than it did, but the final scene is like a bonus, involving a young boy we saw earlier in the movie.  This scene is magical, but you can see the Disney influence in it.

Although Star Wars: The Last Jedi may stray a little from its Star Wars roots, every time it quickly returns to it roots making it feel like a pretty good Star Wars film.  As a die hard Star Wars fan, the movie very much appeals to me, but it seems also to have been designed to appeal to a much wider audience, and not just the Star Wars fanatics.  As such, it is a very entertaining movie, but there are some noticeable flaws.  For this reason I can't give it four stars, but three and a half just isn't enough to describe how much I like this movie.

Rating:  3.75 out of 4.

P.S.  Both times the audience applauded at the end of the film.  That tells you something.

The Politics of (the Politics of) "the Last Jedi"

Monday, December 25, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Re: Last Jedi political messaging



On Wed, Dec 20, 2017 at 11:12 AM, utahtrout wrote:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi' leans into political fray


But the latest movie, "The Last Jedi," appears to lean into the political fray, from its egalitarian message to a more specific critique of callous plutocrats.

More pointedly, the mission undertaken by Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) leads them to a planet where the ultra-rich congregate at what amounts to an intergalactic casino. Moreover, it's noted that most of those one-percenters earned their money from war profiteering -- selling weapons to the First Order and Rebels alike -- while subjugating and exploiting those around them.

The pair's escape also weaves in an animal-rights theme, as the two rebels liberate a creature used for a kind of horseracing entertainment. The beast eventually wanders off free, regaining its natural state.

There's obvious irony in a money-making enterprise like "Star Wars" -- fattening the coffers of the Disney empire -- decrying capitalism run amok. Yet even if that's a minor, peripheral element in a fantasy set in a long-ago, far-away galaxy, rather than being reluctantly drawn into such debates, "The Last Jedi" signals its willingness to at least be part of the conversation by addressing issues in the here and now.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/18/entertainment/star-wars-politics/index.html





Sunday, December 17, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

If you want to see my spoiler free review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, look here.  Otherwise, expect plenty of spoilers.

If you look at some of the youtube reaction, it is clear that a great many people hate this movie.  These are the die hard Star Wars fans who are more than likely older and feel an attachment to the existing Star Wars mythology.  The reason why all these people hate the movie is pretty much the same:  The movie throws away the old mythology and replaces it with a slightly different version.  In fact, that is the theme of the film, because in a least of couple of places the movie says, "Let the past die.  Kill it if you have to."  We can see this in the first Luke Skywalker scene where he symbolically and humorously discards the past like it has no meaning.  

Whereas the movie should be the continuation of the hero's journey, Luke's journey, what we see instead is a disenchanted Luke who has abandoned his friends, their cause, the Force, and the Jedi Order.  No wonder some people hate this movie!

I have seen multiple people claim that Star Wars: The Last Jedi kills Star Wars.  I disagree for reasons I give below.

These same people who have problems with the movie have also noticed that the new trilogy is an outlet for Social Justice Warriors.  All the bad guys are inept white males.  The leaders of the rebellion are all women, and the lead male characters make mistakes, get into trouble and have to be corrected by the females.  In fact, when the producers cast The Force Awakens they stated they were making an effort to not cast white males, as if Star Wars needs some form of Affirmative Action.  For example, Oscar Isaac who plays Poe Dameron is Hispanic.  We can see the social justice theme in several places in the movie, since the resistance is described as "the voice of the downtrodden" and the planet of Canto Bight is described as a playground for the rich who just happen to be mostly white and war profiteers.  Meanwhile on Canto Bight, the stables for the Fathier, which are like space horses, are maintained by child laborers, apparently slaves, who are clearly oppressed but secretly yearn to side with the rebellion. 

Whereas the old movies had a clear moral distinction between an evil empire and freedom loving rebels, the new movies blur those distinctions a bit.  It has become more of a struggle for the oppressed against the rich and powerful.  Snoke, who is suppose to be the ultimate bad guy, was described in the prerelease publicity as rich and powerful and flashy in the way that he liked to dress adorning himself with jewelry.  He was also supposed to have a connection to the playground of the rich world of Canto Bight.  In Star Wars: Rogue One, Saw Gerrera is a terrorist with parallels to Che Guevara.  So who exactly are the Rebels?  Political leftists?  What cause are they really fighting for?

There is a lack of continuity with the old films in that being powerful with the Force required some sort of heritage, such the Skywalker lineage.  Many people thought that Rey would be Luke's daughter, or the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi or somehow related to Leia or Palpatine.  Instead we are told that she is literally nobody; her parents were junk dealers who sold her into slavery for a pittance.  But here emerges a new theme, which is that anyone can become powerful with the Force, regardless of heritage or lack of training.   In fact, the new trilogy seems to think that training is not important.  Luke doesn't train Rey, except to tell her why he thinks the Jedi cause must end.  So despite her lack of training, Rey is able to leave Luke and go off and do powerful things.

Whereas the Star Wars movies were supposed to be all about the Skywalkers, as Kathleen Kennedy head of Lucasfilm has acknowledged, this film pretty much kills that idea.  The producers have painted themselves into a corner, especially with the death of Carrie Fischer, but the goal seems to be to continue only with the new characters.

There are things in the movie that don't seem logically consistent to me.  The previous films established rules on how the Force works, or how the space ships worked and how their propulsion worked.  This film establishes new rules.  For example, if you can destroy a battle cruiser with a kamikaze run then why haven't we seen that before?  And why does a human have to do it when we know that droids can fly ships?  Fuel has never been an issue before, but here it becomes a major plot point.  And why can't the First Order ships catch up to the rebellion ships at sub light speeds, when their star ships are capable of going faster than light?

People expected this movie to provide them with more information, like filling in the back story on many of the characters, but the movie is stingy with its information and only gives us enough to allow us to follow along.

Character development suffers a little because the movie has too many characters, but it is good enough.  

The good news is that despite the film having a different vision, it is still a vision worth following.  Every time the movie would deviate from its Star Wars legacy in any way, it would quickly go back to its Star Wars roots, which is enough to keep a fan like me happy.  The movie is exceptionally entertaining, mainly because Lucasfilm and Disney tried to cram too much stuff into it.  They throw in a great deal of humor, almost too much, but it works by making the movie that much more fun.  Although Star Wars The Last Jedi is not a perfect Star Wars movie, it is nearly perfect as a movie because it thoroughly entertains the audience.

I'm not going to give it a final rating until I can see it again.  My gut feeling is * * * 1/2, but it feels like an improvement over The Force Awakens.