The three movies of the Disney made Star Wars sequel trilogy, episodes 7, 8 and 9, were entertaining enough, but they really feel like a huge opportunity lost to do something better. The movies could have been another Lord of the Rings, or another Game of Thrones, not that I'm a huge fan of either one of these things, but the new Star Wars trilogy had a chance to be epic, but instead, it was splintered into different creative visions that did not mesh well. I had high hopes that there was some master plan that would pull it all together in the end, but the final film pretty much proved that there was none.
The seventh film was largely a remake of the original Star Wars with new younger characters. Although it might have a few new ideas, it doesn't feel very original and its goal was to just evoke nostalgia. This is not how George Lucas made Star Wars movies because every one of his movies introduced new and sometimes controversial ideas and took us to new unfamiliar exotic locations.
J.J. Abrams, the writer and director of Episode 7, reportedly had a master plan in the beginning. Part of the plan involved Carrie Fisher being critically important to the 9nth film, but she died three years before the movie came out, and a year before it went into production. They did manage to use some old footage of Carrie Fisher in the movie. Colin Trevorrow was scheduled to write and direct Episode 9, and reportedly he had some really interesting ideas, but he was fired over creative differences that conflicted with Episode 8, so J.J. Abrams ended up also writing and directing the 9nth movie.
Part of the problem was that a mostly unproven director, Rian Johnson, was given free rein by Lucasfilm to do whatever he wanted in Episode 8, The Last Jedi. It appears that Rian Johnson ignored any plans that J.J. Abrams had, and made the movie that he wanted to make. Rian Johnson admitted that he had no concern for continuity or what came before, and that he was only interested in his own vision. Johnson introduced some news ideas that could have taken Star Wars in a slightly new direction, and I think that this had the potential to be interesting.
However, in Episode 9, The Rise of Skywalker, J.J. Abrams appears to have gone out of his way to disregard everything Rian Johnson did.
The problem is that Episode 8, The Last Jedi, split the fanbase. It was a little inconsistent with the Star Wars that fans were familiar with. Although I liked The Last Jedi a great deal and it is my favorite of the trilogy, at least half the fans hated it with an almost irrational passion. The was a major backlash to the film.
Because of the backlash to The Last Jedi, this created strife between Disney and Lucasfilm. There was an edict issued by Disney that Episode 9 had to please *all* the fans and not just half of them. George Lucas was brought back to act as a script consultant and introduced some of his ideas, but midway through filming Lucasfilm informed Disney that the new film might not please all the fans as they wanted. This caused the parent company, Disney, to put their foot down and demand rewrites and reshoots.
What we got with Episode 9 feels like it is too crammed full of crowd-pleasing moments. The story proceeds at such a frenetic pace that the audience doesn't have time to notice that much of the movie doesn't make logical sense. I think that the last act is way over the top. The problem is that movie is very entertaining just so long as you don't think about it too much. This might explain the critic score of only 52%.
I liked Man of Steel. It might not be perfect, but it is entertaining. It was the first Superman movie that didn't gloss over the fact that aliens have come to earth. It explored their technology. They felt more like hard science fiction.
A long time ago there was magic. Magic was used to help people and to make their lives better. However, magic was difficult to master, and once people discovered technology which was easier, they forgot about magic.
This feels like a world that could have been much more explored, but the movie plays it safe by having all the characters be no different than modern boring humans. However, that is part of the point, since this is a culture that has lost its heritage. The movie holds a surprise for us, because what seems on the surface like a three-star film, delivers in a big way with a four-star ending. This is by no means the best Pixar film, but Pixar can still work a magic of their own.
Our two main characters, both elves and both brothers, go on a quest to find something magical that will bring back their long-deceased father just for a day so that they meet him. As a result, they discover more about themselves and help their culture regain some of what it lost.
Rating: B+. I would love to see a sequel where they better explore this world.
P.S. There is much stuff in the trailer that didn't make it into the movie. This happens sometimes when a movie undergoes many revisions before being released.
The first trailer for Sonic The Hedgehog sparked an internet backlash because many people thought that the Sonic character looked kind of creepy. The production company responded to the backlash by redoing the animation, and the final result looks fairly good. I noticed some very minor imperfections in the CGI, but nothing too distracting.
Because of the initial backlash, some of the critics expressed great surprise by saying that the movie is actually good. This is not what they were expecting.
Sonic is mostly a kid's film that is not intellectually deep at all, but it has enough jokes that connect and fun stuff to make it a good time. Jim Carrey plays Dr. Robotnik. He is essentially playing a cartoon villain, which he plays way over the top, so much so that I found him annoying, but Jim Carrey is also the funniest when he is way over the top. I was laughing out loud several times, which is a good thing. We get Jim Carrey at his full nuttiness, although it would have been better if he were more restrained.
There is a bar fight scene in the middle of the movie that is mostly gratuitous because it feels like filler. However, like the rest of the movie, it is mildly amusing.
If we compare Sonic to another videogame adaptation, Pokemon Detective Pikachu, the story is much more coherent and less of a mess.
I hesitated to see The Rise of Skywalker a second time, which is very unusual for me with Star Wars movies. There are minor problems with the movie. I didn't think that it was particularly logical, and the final act is a little over the top. However, it is much easier to appreciate this movie on the second viewing.
On the positive side, the film is a grand spectacle, and I pretty much had a blast for the first 75% of it. The last act is still a grand spectacle, and I understand the movie better and what it was trying to do by seeing it a second time.
Henry V is a 1989 movie by Kenneth Branagh adapted from Shakespeare's play. The King is a 2019 Netflix film covering the same historical events.
Henry V had a falling out with his father, so his father Henry IV appointed Henry's younger brother to be the successor to the monarchy, but Henry's younger brother was killed in battle shortly before Henry IV's death and Henry V became king at the age of 26. He succeeded in conquering France in an ongoing 100-year series of wars between France and England. But he died at the age of 35 and most of his military victories would later be reversed.
One of Henry V's major was victories was at the Battle of Agincourt. It was a battle that he should have lost because he was badly outnumbered, but a combination of strategy and weather worked in his favor. At this battle, it was said that Henry V gave a powerful speech to motivate his men, but history does not record this speech. Shakespeare wrote a fantastic speech for the play ("We happy few. We band of brothers."), but the movie The King substitutes something less grandiose. Shakespeare handles the battle by having the actors march offstage and the battle is not shown, and the movie version only shows a bit of the battle. Instead, the King gives us what feels likes a historical re-creation of the battle.
Whereas the Netflix movie The King seems more historically accurate, the movie Henry V is more fun because it is hard to top Shakespeare.
Adam Sandler plays a jeweler who is also a gambling addict in trouble with the mob, and who can't seem to stop his gambling. He is a bit of a conman because he has to be to keep at bay all the people who are after him. He is also unfaithful to his wife with a couple of affairs, so his wife is planning to divorce him.
All the tension in the film does make it somewhat watchable. I actually considered walking out of the movie, but I wanted to see how the movie ended, so I stayed. I am glad that I saw the ending because it is the only redeeming part of the movie.
The movie 1917 is likely to be one of the best movies I will see this year. It follows a pair of World War I soldiers on a time-critical mission to get a message to another unit so as to avoid an attack that will end in disaster. This is based on a real story told to writer and director Sam Mendes by his grandfather.
The movie is filmed in such a way that it appears to be one continuous shot, except for a couple of obvious breaks. There are continuous shots that last at least 40 minutes. The camera follows the soldiers through long trenches, across fields, into farmhouses, rivers, underground bunkers, and troop transports. This is like another character because I spent the whole movie wondering how on earth did they film this? It is technically very difficult to have everything properly lit while the camera follows the actors through miles of territory.
The movie creates a suspense that is perfect. There is not much direct combat, but the horrible aftermath of combat is everywhere in this movie. On the journey, the soldiers are constantly passing dead bodies and destruction. The way the movie is filmed gives it an extra sense of realism.
The movie is rated R for war violence and a few swear words.
Knives Out is a mystery whodunit in the spirit of Agatha Cristie, but with quite a few twists, which is a given since it is from director Rian Johnson. As entertainment, it works really well, although I didn't find it totally believable and I predicted the twist ending. The movie also tries a little too hard to be a social commentary.
However, Rian Johnson shows that he can make a pretty entertaining movie.