Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rian Johnson's Trilogy Has Started - Lucasfilm Continues To Ignore The Last Jedi Backlash


I'm not sure that all those who like The Last Jedi are adopting a stupid mentality.

The plot holes are too numerous to mention and these bother me, as do the social justice warrior messages, so I agree with almost every criticism I have heard about The Last Jedi.   However, I don't mind the Luke arc because it surprised me and I find it entertaining.  It's not my story, nor is it the story I would have written for Luke, but it's their story and I enjoyed it as is.   

There is so much in the movie that I like:   All the interaction between Luke and Rey.  The force bond between Rey and Kylo.   Rey's vision.  Everything that happened in the throne room is gold, and it concludes with Ben practically proposing to Rey which is even more interesting.   The Canto Bight story is not the best, but neither does it take up as much screen time as people claim it does.  Parts of it, such as the chase scene, are interesting.  Everything that happened during the Battle of Crait was also excellent, except for the stupid Rose scene.  I liked being surprised by Luke's force projection.  His passing, or becoming one with the Force, moved me to tears.

The first time around I was a little uncertain how I felt about broom boy.  I found the scene both emotionally moving and a little cheesy, but this scene has grown on me.  It creates hope for the future.

One the first viewing of the movie, the humor made me laugh out loud several times.  It comes in surprising places.   I  knew that they were overdoing the humor, but I didn't care because it made me laugh.  The humor is so minor in places that it is hardly a distraction.  Of course, by the third viewing the jokes had lost any surprise effect and were falling flat.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Brilliant or Senseless? Rian Johnson Explains The Last Jedi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C95o0MRzBVs

Some of the best analysis I have heard. I think that there is enough good stuff in the movie to make it enjoyable, despite some really obvious flaws.

I have concluded that Rian Johnson is not a logical thinker, because in interviews he seems
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unconcerned or unaware about
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the
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plot holes,
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and
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is
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only interested in the aesthetics of the film.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi for the third time.

I saw the movie for the third time, after having seen it for the second time 10 weeks ago.

I noticed quite a bit more stuff in my second viewing and still yet more things the third time around. This is a busy movie and there is much in it that is easy to miss. Although the movie does not have the same novelty that it first did, the extra details I noticed seem to make the story feel more coherent and less like it has plot holes. I still think that there are plot holes, but I get a better sense of what the director was shooting for.

In addition, problems are a little easier to ignore on the second and third viewing. The personalities of Luke Skywalker and Admiral Holdo come across as more understandable, and in particular the acting by Mark Hamill seems more nuanced.

This feels like this is the least rewatchable of the Star Wars movies, since all of the other movies I have watched repeatedly and still enjoy them. For Star Wars: The Last Jedi, three times seems like enough. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Black Panther

My problem with superhero movies is that the main characters are able to use magic, or some sort of technology as of yet unknown to us, essentially magic, to apparently violate the laws of physics.  It is not realistic to see most of these characters do what they do, so in this respect these movies seem kind of silly, but these are fantasy films so we should make allowances.  Despite this reservation, I have enjoyed all the recent Superman movies that I have seen, because Superman is a character whose story is well ingrained into the American psyche, with the caveat I have not yet seen the recent and much maligned Justice League.  

An example of where Black Panther violates the laws of physics is that the  main character wears a suit that can absorb a huge amount of kinetic energy, and release that kinetic energy back out on demand.  This is an interesting part of the story, but I refer you to Newton's third law of motion that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If the suit stops a large amount of kinetic energy, the wearer is going acquire some of that velocity.  If anything, the movie is inconsistent on how this works, because sometimes the character will recoil from blows and sometimes not.

The premise of Black Panther, where a much more technologically advanced afrocentric civilization, Wakanda, is hidden in the heart of Africa, comes across to me just as silly as other superhero movies, given that it mixes tribal customs and attire with science fiction technology.  This mixture of old and new makes the movie a fantastic visual spectacle, but stretches believability.

What makes any movie like this good is whether the characters and story are engaging enough for us to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the film.  Here Black Panther shines with its characters, and a most interesting villain.  Add to that a philosophical story that contemplates what role a more advanced civilization should play in helping others?   These elements alone would be sufficient for a pretty good movie, but the science fiction parts of the story also make the film a visual treat.  

There is a great deal of fighting in this movie, and it feels a little repetitive, like they couldn't come up with anything better to do.  However, most of these scenes are fun to watch.  

Often I felt like the characters were a little muddled on their motivations, because the central conflict of the film is whether Wakanda should remain isolationist or share its advanced technology to help the rest of the world?  One also wonders how Wakanda could be such a prosperous civilization when it is not willing to export its only real natural resource, which is a mysterious metal called vibranium?

The Hero's Journey is a type of myth going back thousands of years that follows the same pattern, where the hero goes on a journey, at some point fails and almost dies, is reborn and finally succeeds, and in some stories becomes a king on the return of his journey.  George Lucas popularized this type of storytelling in movies, but it has become repetitive and overdone.  Black Panther follows this pattern so closely that parts of the movie are predictable.

I was a little burned out on superhero movies because there have been so many of them, the result of which is that few of them have been exceptional.  Despite a few minor problems, Black Panther is different enough that it is like a breath of fresh air.

Rating:  * * * 1/2