action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 8th, 2018 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

star wars episode vii - the last jedi

It’s funny, but I just realized that it is almost exactly 1 year since I started reviewing the Star Wars movies, and I now find myself watching the most recent one. Now there was a lot of buzz about this movie but the biggest surprise was what happened after it came out. People went absolutely ape-shit on the internet over this movie, for all sorts of reasons. I can kind of understand the one bit about Princess Leia but the trolls that attacked Kelly Marie Tran really took things too far. Anyways, all of the negative media buzz concerning this movie weighed in on my mind when I finally went and saw Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, but I refused to let it ruin my day and set back to enjoy the movie.

The plot: After the destruction of the First Order’s Starkiller base, General Leia Organa orders the Resistance base on D’Qar to evacuate but a fleet of First Order Star Destroyers arrives before they can flee. General Hux, the former leader of Starkiller base, prepares to open fire on the base when Poe Dameron approaches his flag ship and opens a communication with it. As Hux speaks with Poe, Poe acts like he can’t hear him in an effort to stall for time, then he makes an attack on the First Order’s dreadnought, taking out it’s surface cannons. The ruse works as the Resistance is able to escape the base before it is destroyed and Leia orders Poe back to the fleet but Poe disobeys her orders, saying that they need to destroy the dreadnought while they have the chance. With the last of the dreadnought’s surface cannons destroyed, Resistance bombers head towards it, with Poe and other fighter craft covering them. As the bombers get close to the dreadnought, most of them are destroyed when a tie fighter crashes into one of them, causing it to explode and take most of the others with it. The last surviving bomber makes it over to the dreadnought and though badly damaged, manages to drop it’s bombs and destroy it, which brings a cheer to the Resistance members but Leia is saddened by the massive loss of life that the victory cost them. As the fleet escapes into hyperspace, Finn awakens from the injuries he sustained fighting Kylo Ren and wanders out of the med bay, only to be spotted by Poe and as Poe goes to help him get dressed, Finn asks where Rey is. On the planet Ahch-To, Rey hands Luke Skywalker his old lightsaber and he stares at it before tossing it over a cliff. Rey is shocked by his actions and after retrieving it, goes to try and speak to Skywalker but he refuses to open the door to his cabin. Rey gets Chewbacca, who knocks down the door and roars at Luke and when Rey says that Luke is coming back to the Falcon with them, Luke asks where Han is. Elsewhere, Supreme Leader Snoke hears Hux’s plan for how they will destroy the Resistance and is pleased to hear what it is. As Hux leaves to carry out his plan, Kylo Ren approaches Snoke and Snoke admonishes him for his defeat against Rey, causing Kylo to get upset after he leaves the throne room. Back on Ahch-To, Rey explains why she is there to Luke but he refuses to help her and goes about his day. Rey refuses to give up and follows him around but after a bit, she senses something with the Force and is drawn to an old tree, where she finds some ancient books inside. Luke confronts her and reveals that the books are the original Jedi texts and then questions Rey again about why she is there and when she tells him about what is happening with her, Luke tells her that she needs a teacher but he refuses to teach another generation of Jedi as he had come to the planet to die. The Resistance fleet comes out of hyperspace and as Leia chastises Poe, then discusses what their next plan should be, the First Order fleet appears behind them and starts opening fire. Finn says they should do another jump but Leia realizes that they tracked them through hyperspace, which should have been impossible, and if they did another jump they will be stuck with no fuel and at the First Order’s mercy. Poe goes to lead an attack squad against the Star Destroyers but Kylo and his squadron attack the Resistance flagship, destroying their fighter bay and all of the fighters in it. Kylo then goes to attack the bridge but when he senses Leia’s presence on board, he hesitates but his wingmen don’t and blow up the bridge, sending Leia hurtling into space. Kylo is called back as the Resistance ships have moved out of range for the Star Destroyers to cover him, but they continue chasing the fleet, picking away at their shields. Meanwhile, Leia uses the force to head back to the flagship but the effort leaves her exhausted and she is taken to the medbay, while Finn picks up the signal/tracking device Leia had to contact Rey. Back on Ahch-To, Luke sneaks onto the Falcon and is surprised to see R2-D2 on board. When Luke tells R2 that he won’t be going back, R2 plays the old message of Leia begging Obi-Wan Kenobi to help her, and Luke reluctantly agrees to train Rey. Back on the Resistance flagship, with Leia incapacitated and the rest of the leadership dead, command of the fleet has fallen to Vice Admiral Holdo and when Poe approaches her to find out what the plan is, she refuses to tell him. Meanwhile, Finn attempts to escape with the biotracker in an escape pod but he is stunned by a technician named Rose. As Finn recovers, Rose is taking him to the brig when they start arguing about the First Order being able to track them through hyperspace, which causes them to come up with an idea. Finn and Rose tell Poe their idea about sneaking on the lead Star Destroyer and taking out the tracking system long enough for them to get away. Poe contacts Maz Kanata to see if she can help them crack the First Order’s security codes but she is tied up in a labor dispute but recommends a first class hacker that can be found on Canto Bight. Meanwhile, Rey wakes up to begin her training only to see a vision of Kylo, who is also able to see her. Rey tries to attack Kylo and Kylo speaks to her but when Luke appears, the connection is severed. Luke takes Rey up to a cliff and teaches her the first lesson about the Force but as she opens herself up to it, a darkness within the island calls out to her, causing her to react via the force. As Rey stops her efforts, she comments that Luke has closed himself off from the force and Luke tells her that he has seen this much power once before and he wasn’t scared then but he is now. Meanwhile, Finn, Rose, and BB-8 head to Canto Bight to locate the master hacker but as they search for him, they end up being captured for illegally parking their shuttle on a private beach. Back on Ahch-To, Rey has another vision of Kylo, who wonders why the Force is connecting them and when she tells him she found Luke, he taunts her by asking her if he told her what happened the night the temple was burned. Luke continues the lessons and tells Rey how in the end, the Jedi were failures due to their own pride in their abilities with the Force. Rey disputes the notion but Luke tells her about how the Jedi allowed Darth Sidious to rise to power and create the Empire, and how his own pride allowed his nephew Ben to become Kylo Ren and slaughter his students. Back on Canto Bight, Finn and Rose try to figure out a way out of the cell when DJ, a hacker who is in the cell with them offers to help them. They refuse his offer but when DJ picks the lock and leaves, they leave as well, escaping into the sewers, while DJ encounters BB-8, who is knocking out the guards with coins he acquired. Finn and Rose find themselves in a stable and as the kids working in the stable move to sound the alarm, Finn and Rose tell them they are with the resistance and the kids help them escape by opening the stables and letting the racing fathiers out. Finn and Rose ride on the back of one through the city and out to the beach but the police blow up their shuttle before they can get on board so they continue riding up the cliffs. They manage to elide the police and set their mount free when BB-8 appears in a shuttle, driven by DJ, and they quickly get on board and speed off. Back on Ahch-To, Luke finally opens himself up to the Force and uses it to reach out to Leia, who calls out his name. Meanwhile, Rey continues to have conversations with Kylo and he tells her that Luke had attempted to kill him because he feared Kylo’s strength in the Force. Shaken by what Kylo told her, Rey heads to the hole that is strong in the Dark Side of the Force and ends up falling in. Inside, she finds a strange, cracked mirror, which shows myriad reflections of herself and when she tries to see her parents, she only sees herself again. Rey talks with Kylo about her experience and as they continue talking, they tell each other they are not alone and touch each other through the Force. Luke enters Rey’s cabin and seeing what is happening, yells out for them to stop, destroying the cabin in the process. Luke angrily yells at Rey to leave the island and Rey asks if what Kylo told her is true. The two end up fighting and Rey ends up besting Luke when she uses the Force to grab Anakin’s old lightsaber and uses it on him, causing him to stumble and fall to the ground. Luke tells her that he had sensed a darkness in Kylo and when he looked into his mind, realized that Snoke had already turned him. Luke reacted on instinct and activated his lightsaber but couldn’t bring himself to kill Kylo but Kylo realized Luke’s initial intention and struck down Luke and destroyed his school. Rey tells Luke that she had sensed Kylo’s turmoil and feels that she could bring him back to the light and despite Luke telling her not to leave, she takes off with Chewie and R2-D2. After they leave, Luke goes to destroy the ancient Jedi texts and the tree/temple when he sees the Force Spirit of Yoda watching him. When Luke can’t bring himself to do it, Yoda summons a lightning bolt to destroy the tree and texts and when Luke argues about it, Yoda tells him that they offered nothing that Rey didn’t already know. Yoda then tells Luke that he needed to pass on what he had learned, and that included his failures as they were more important to learn from. Meanwhile, Finn and Rose are making their way to the First Order fleet and when DJ tells them he expects to be paid for his services, they tell him the Resistance will pay him when they are done and Rose gives him her necklace as a down payment. Elsewhere, the Resistance fleet has lost both of it’s escort craft and when Poe goes to see Holdo to demand to know what their plan is, he discovers that she is fueling the escape craft and plans on having everyone abandon ship. Poe is angry that she is willing to risk everyone’s lives in unarmed ships and tells her about his plan with Finn and Rose and when Holdo refuses to change her plan, Poe leads a mutiny and takes command of the ship. As Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 sneak onto Snoke’s ship, Rey tells Chewie to jetison her in the escape pod and wait for her signal to return, then leaves the ship and heads to Snoke’s ship as well. She is met by Kylo, who places her in manacles and takes her up to see Snoke. Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 make it to the tracking system but are captured by Captain Phasma and as Poe, who was in contact with them, despairs over their capture, he is shocked to see Leia break through the door to the bridge and stun him. Lei has Poe loaded onto one of the escape shuttles and as she discusses the plan with Holdo, Holdo says she has to stay aboard and pilot the flagship to make sure the shuttles are able to escape and though Leia is saddened by the sacrifice, she knows Holdo is right. When Poe recovers, Leia points out the nearby planet Crait and explains that there is a former Rebellion base on the planet that is heavily fortified and should allow them to contact their allies in the Outer Rim while the First Order passes them by. On Snoke’s ship, Snoke reveals that he had facilitated the connection between Rey and Kylo, as he knew Rey would fall into his trap so he could either kill her or turn her. Meanwhile, DJ is revealed to have cut a deal with the First Order and told them of the Resistance’s plan and they begin firing on the escape shuttles. Meanwhile, Snoke continues to taunt Rey and reveals the Resistance shuttles being destroyed. Snoke orders Kylo to kill Rey but as Kylo moves to do so, he secretly maneuvers Anakin’s lightsaber so that it is facing Snoke, then activates it, cutting Snoke in half. Rey and Kylo then proceed to fight off Snoke’s guards and after killing them, Rey tells Kylo to call off the attack on the shuttles but he refuses, saying that they should get rid of the old and she should rule at his side. Rey refuses and they end up fighting over Anakin’s lightsaber, eventually causing it to be split in two, knocking them both out. Meanwhile, Holdo maneuvers the flagship towards the First Order fleet and jumps to light speed, sacrificing herself by crashing into Snoke’s ship and destroying or damaging several of the smaller Star Destroyers while buying time for the remaining shuttles to make it to the surface. Finn and Rose, who were about to be executed, attempt to escape in shuttle but are forced to deal with Phasma and her stormtroopers but manage to escape with BB-8’s help, who had taken over an AT-ST. Meanwhile, Hux heads to the throne room and sees Snoke dead and Kylo lying unconscious on the floor. Hux moves to kill Kylo when Kylo regains consciousness, saying that Rey killed Snoke and demanding to know where she is. When Hux tells Kylo that she escaped in Snoke’s escape pod, Kylo orders their troops to the planet’s surface to finish off the Resistance and when Hux questions Kylo’s authority, Kylo force chokes him into accepting Kylo as the new Supreme Commander. On Crait, the Resistance prepare to hold off the First Order, Finn sees that the First Order has a battering order cannon with them and warns that it will crack open the shield door in seconds. The Resistance starts to lose hope, especially when they learn the shield door is the only way in or out, but Finn says they have to have hope that their allies will come and they should hold out until then. The Resistance forces head out to the surface, while Poe, Finn, and Rose lead a squad of pilots in ancient Rebellion speeders to take out the battering ram cannon. AS Kylo orders the support Tie-Fighters to take out the speeders and ground troopers, the Tie-Fighters come under fire by the Millennium Falcon, with Rey and Chewie on board, and the fighters all go after it. Poe leads the speeders towards the cannon but as they start getting picked off, he tells everyone to break off the attack. Finn refuses to listen and continues towards the cannon, intending to sacrifice himself to destroy it, but Rose crashes her ship into his, knocking them both out of the way as the cannon fires and blasts a hole in the door. Finn rushes over to Rose’s ship to see if she is still alive and asks why she did that and she tells him that the way they will beat them is not by destroying what they hate, but saving what they love. Inside the base, the Resistance learns that their distress signal has been received in numerous systems but nobody is coming to help them and Leia says that they must have finally run out of hope. Suddenly, Luke appears in the base and speaks with Leia, apologizing for what happened to Ben (Kylo) and saying that he is there to face him. Luke heads outside to confront Kylo and when he sees him, Kylo orders his troops to open fire on him but Luke is seemingly unfazed by their attack so Kylo orders his shuttle to land so he can confront him. Poe and the remaining Resistance troops watch Luke and Finn wants to help him but Poe realizes that Luke is stalling so that they can escape. As Poe tells everyone to try and find another way out, he notices that the crystal foxes that were in the base have vanished. Bringing that to everyone’s attention, they all see one last fox staring at them before making it’s way down a tunnel and they all follow after it. They eventually catch up to it at the site of a recent landslide and Poe starts to give up hope when Rey, who had been searching for them, uses the Force to lift the boulders away, allowing the Resistance to escape. Meanwhile, Luke and Kylo are fighting when Luke suddenly stops, as he knows his stalling has worked, and when Kylo moves to kill him, his blade goes right through Luke, revealing that Luke was simply a Force projection all along. As Luke disappears, Kylo realizes he has been tricked and sends his forces into the base but they find it empty. On Ahch-To, Luke ends up dying from his exertion battling Kylo, with both Leia and Rey feeling him pass. Kylo senses Rey and the two stare at each other through the Force before Rey closes the door to the Falcon and they leave. As the surviving members congratulate each other on surviving, Leia and Rey speak about feeling Luke’s passing, With Leia saying that the Rebellion is reborn. On Canto Bight, The children that helped Finn and Rose escape are reenacting Luke Skywalker’s stand against Kylo and the First Order when the stable manager yells at them. As they rush off to get back to work, one of them uses the Force to summon a broom to his hand and starts sweeping before staring up into the stars.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi honors the saga’s rich legacy while adding some surprising twists — and delivering all the emotion-rich action fans could hope for.” When filming, Laura Dern said “pew” every time she shot her blaster. Although not audible, one such instance even made it into the finished film. It can be noticed in the close-up shot when Holdo is stunning her opponents. With the passing of Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels is the only actor to appear in all 8 of the main Star Wars films. Though it didn’t earn as much as it’s predecessor, the movie was a box office smash, earning $1.333 billion off of a $317 million budget.

Here’s the deal. When you watch any of the new Star Wars movies, you have to ask yourself one question before you start; Was this movie worse than Episode I? With that being said, this wasn’t what I would consider a great follow up but it was a good movie, and definitely better than The Phantom Menace. The acting was good, with Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), and Adam Driver (Kylo) doing good jobs reprising their roles. I also thought that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were good reprising the roles of Luke and Leia respectively, while Kelly Marie Tran did a good job as Rose. The story was honestly a little disappointing because you had so many side things going on at once. Granted, the movie seemed to resemble Empire Strikes Back in some regards but while George Lucas did a good job keeping the different sub-plots flowing smoothly, the sub-plots in The Last Jedi seemed to keep jumping around at random in such a way that they felt disjointed with each other, until the last 30 minutes or so where they started to rejoin each other. Speaking of resembling Empire, the last battle on Crait really did feel like it was the Battle of Hoth, just with different equipment. Now, for the scene that brought about so much anger. Seeing as how she was the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, there was always a chance that Leia would be Force sensitive. In fact, she showed her abilities starting to emerge at the end of Return Of The Jedi. So to assume that in the years after the fall of the Empire, that she would not have undergone at least some basic training with Luke is pretty silly notion (in the old Star Wars books, Leia was actually trained by another Jedi, as she felt Luke was going to soft on her). Now, I will admit that the scene itself was quite a bit over the top, okay it was REALLY over the top, but it wasn’t as far fetched of a thing as the haters claimed it to be. The special effects were incredible and the colors and imagery in the scenes were amazing to see. I loved the battle in Snoke’s throne room, where Kylo and Ren fight the guards against the solid red backdrop of the walls and curtains, with the curtains catching fire and falling among them adding to the raw emotion in the scene. I also liked the sand that turned red on Crait, as it made for a nice way to liven up the otherwise barren battle scene. So it is a good movie and did do a good job in being the midpoint in a trilogy but it needed to nail down a couple of issues to be considered truly great.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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adventure, movie, movie review, musical, sci-fi, tv episodes

November 17th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars Holiday Special

star wars holiday special

Happy Life Day everyone and if you haven’t figured it out by now, today’s movie is the reason for my buying a ton of movies at the beginning of the year. So 39 years ago today, a television event occurred that has since become legendary for how absolutely terrible it was. CBS had approached George Lucas about doing a TV special featuring the characters from Star Wars, as the recent re-release of the movie in theaters showed that the movie’s popularity had not waned in the least. Well, George Lucas agreed and the end result ended up being a train wreck of such epic proportions, that it was never rebroadcast after the initial airing, nor did it receive an official release on home video,  so the only way you could obtain a copy was through a bootleg copy of an original recording or, in more recent times, off of the internet. George Lucas has never considered the special to be part of the Star wars canon and, in regards to the bootleg copies, has stated that “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootleg copy of that program and smash it (with a couple of profanities thrown in there).”

Fast forward a few decades, and I managed to pick up a copy of the special at DragonCon. Some time later, my friends and I decided to watch it one night while watching a slew of “bad” movies and thought it was absolutely hysterical. Since then, some of my friends and I will wish each other a Happy Life Day on this day. Last year, I wished my friend Paula a Happy Life Day and she said I should review this special since it was “Life Day”. Well, at this point last year I was only in the “P’s” so that wasn’t going to happen but I looked at where it fell on the schedule and realized I could quite easily make it happen this year. Thus, 150 some odd movies later (mostly off of the two box sets I bought) I am able to watch today’s movie, The Star Wars Holiday Special, on the anniversary of when it first debuted.

The plot: Han Solo and Chewbacca are heading to Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk when they are attacked by two Imperial Star Destroyers. Han wants to turn back but Chewie convinces him to continue as the day is important so Han makes the jump to light speed. On Kashyyyk, Chewie’s son Lumpy is playing with a wooden X-wing while his grandfather, Itchy, sits in a chair carving a second one. When Lumpy gets on Itchy’s nerves, Chewie’s wife Malla has him take out the garbage, admonishing him when he tries to steal a cookie that she baked, though he quickly takes another one when her back is turned. Malla and Itchy are starting to get worried that Chewie isn’t there yet and Itchy lets Lumpy watch a holovid of some acrobats and jugglers in order to keep him entertained. Malla checks a scanner for approaching ships but finds nothing in the area. She then contacts the rebel base and reaches Luke Skywalker, who is working on his X-wing with R2-D2, and when Luke learns that Chewie and Han haven’t reached Kashyyyk yet, he tells them he doesn’t know where they are but is sure they will be there soon. Malla then contacts Saun Dann, a local trader, to ask if he has heard from Chewie but Suan’s shop is being searched by Imperial troops so he has to give Malla a coded message telling her that Han and Chewie are on their way while on board one of the Star Destroyers, Vader tells his officers to search every house on the planet for the Rebels. Malla works on cooking a meal when a message comes through the view screen announcing an Imperial blockade around the planet. Just as the message ends, someone knocks on the door and the wookies fear it is Imperial troops but it is only Saun, who had brought them all some Life Day gifts. Lumpy grabs his gift and quickly takes it up to his room while Saun gives Itchy a holotape, which he claims is “Wow”, and puts it in for Itchy, who uses the privacy viewer to watch it. Princess Leia and C-3P0 contact Malla and when they learn that Han and Chewie haven’t arrived yet, Leia worries that the Imperial blockade might be more of a problem for them and asks Saun to stay with Malla and the others until they get there. Han and Chewie arrive at Kashyyyk but when they notice they blockade, they decide to enter in the Northern area where they have less of a chance of being spotted. Malla, Lumpy, and the others hear the Millennium Falcon’s engines and they rush to the door to greet them only to find Imperial troops outside. As the Imperials begin searching the house for any signs of the Rebels or Rebellion contraband, Saun tries to distract them, showing one of the officers a holovid of a band singing but the officer in charge forces him to leave. As the Imperials continue searching the house, Lumpy starts watching an animated adventure of the Rebel Alliance. In the cartoon, Han Solo and Chewie had gone to fetch an ancient talisman but Han falls victim to a sleeping sickness attached to the talisman and they end up crashing on a planet close to the hidden Rebel base. Luke, R2, and 3P0 head to the planet but they end up stuck in the planet’s surface and a creature begins attacking their ship before they are rescued by a man named Boba Fett. Boba Fett offers to help them and takes them to the Millennium Falcon but as Luke enters, he falls victim to the sleeping sickness just as Chewie gets rid of the talisman. Boba Fett thinks Chewie did something to them but 3P0 translates that it was the talisman that caused them to fall asleep, though it only affects humans. Boba Fett says he recognizes the virus and offers to go into town to get the cure but Chewie demands to go with him. When they get to town, Boba Fett has Chewie wait while he gets the cure but as he does, he secretly contacts Darth Vader, who had hired Boba Fett to locate the Rebel base. After returning to the Falcon and administering the cure, Luke thanks Boba Fett but R2, who had intercepted Boba Fett’s transmission, informs Luke of Boba Fett’s deceit and Boba Fett uses his rocket pack to fly away. The Imperials finish searching Lumpy’s room and order him to clean it up but Lumpy uses the time to work on building a transmitter. Back downstairs, a live video, which is required viewing for all Imperial soldiers, tells of Tatooine having a curfew placed on it and watch as the bartender, Ackmena, tries to kick everyone out and eventually does so by singing a song and leading them in a dance. Lump gets his transmitter working and fakes an Imperial transmission telling the soldiers to return to base. The Imperial officer orders one stormtrooper to stay behind while the others leave but the stormtrooper hears the repeated message coming from Lumpy’s room. The stormtrooper smashes the device and chase Lumpy outside but Han and Chewie arrive and as Chewie moves to protect Lumpy, Han manages to trick the stormtrooper into falling off the deck and into the jungle below. Han and Chewie enter the house and after making sure everyone is ok, Han leaves, wishing them all a Happy Life Day. Saun returns to the house just as the Imperials try contacting the stormtrooper but Saun convinces the Imperials that the stormtrooper had deserted and they agree to send a search party to look for him. After Saun leaves, Chewie and his family each hold up a globe and they end up wearing red robes as they are transported into space, where they join a procession of other aliens walking into a star. They arrive at the Tree of Life, where they are joined by Han, Leia, Luke, R2, and 3P0. Leia greets everyone and sings a song to celebrate Life Day, as Chewie thinks back to how he met all of his new friends, before heading home with his family and having dinner.

Everything you heard about this special is true, but that actually makes it fun to watch because it is such a train wreck. The acting from the main Star Wars cast (Hamill, Ford, and Fisher) felt pretty stifled and nowhere near as crisp as it was in the original film. Art Carney did a good job as Saun while Bea Arthur (Ackmena) made for a funny twist as the bartender and Harvey Korman was hysterical as the alien chef and the instruction manual for the communicator. The base story was honestly a little weak and they tried too hard to stretch it out for a 2 hour special. Some of the side bits to help stretch things out were pretty good; such as the cartoon, which was the first appearance of Boba Fett, and the scenes with Harvey Korman were funny as hell. The scene with Itchy watching the holovid of the woman is a little disturbing, as it was more or less implied that he was essentially watching porn. Equally as disturbing was the scene with Jefferson Starship and I know that it was supposed to be a lightsaber but it honestly looked like Marty Balin looked like he was singing into a glowing dildo (my apologies if the description offends you). This is not good in any sense of the word, but it can entertaining in the whole “so bad, it’s good” style of enjoyment.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 (but the entertainment value could bump this to a 2 1/2)

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November 16th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Star Wars Trailer

 

In 2012, the deal of the century was made when it comes to Hollywood, as George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for just over $4 billion. This means that Disney, who already had a newfound  cash cow going with the MCU, now had control of arguably one of the biggest movie/pop culture franchises of all time. It wasn’t long after the purchase that the news came out that a new trilogy was being worked on, with the first entry getting a release date of 2015. Now I have been a Star Wars fan for a long, long time, but I will admit that I was a little nervous about Disney getting a hold of Star Wars, with my biggest fear being that they will make it too kid friendly and lose some of the dark tones that made the original movies so great. Despite my worries, I had no problem going to see it and obviously enjoyed it, as I bought it when it came out on video, so let’s get set for the new adventure in a galaxy far, far away with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

The plot: 30 years after the death of the Emperor and the destruction of the second Death Star, a new regime known as the First Order has risen up and seeks to overthrow the New Republic. A resistance, led by General Leia Organa, tries to stop the First Order while also seeking out Luke Skywalker, who has disappeared years ago. On the planet Jakku, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets with a village elder, Lor San Tekka and receives a map to where Luke is hiding. Suddenly, his astromech droid, BB-8, alerts him to the arrival of 4 First Order troop carriers, and he quickly makes a run for it but his X-wing is damaged. Poe gives the map to BB-8 and tells him to run, then tries to help the villagers by shooting several stormtroopers. The stormtroopers quickly round up the villagers, killing those that fight back, and wait as a shuttle lands and Kylo Ren, the newest Sith Lord, departs and proceeds to question Lor before killing him with his lightsaber. Poe attempts to shoot Ren, who stops the laser blast with the Force and freezes Poe, allowing some stormtroopers to take him prisoner. Ren orders Poe taken aboard his ship, then orders Captain Phasma to kill the remaining villagers but one of the stormtroopers, who had been affected by the death of another trooper, does not fire his weapon. As they return to their Star Destroyer, Poe is taken away while the stormtrooper, FN-2187, is told to report to Phasma’s division to explain his lack of action in the village. Back on the planet’s surface, a scavenger named Rey is grabbing materials to sell from a crashed Imperial Star Destroyer and heads to the nearby town to sell the materials. After returning home and eating some food, Rey investigates a commotion and finds another scavenger attempting to capture BB-8 and she quickly rescues the droid and reluctantly allows him to come home with her when he keeps attempting to follow. The next day, Rey takes BB-8 with her to sell her salvage and when the merchant offers to buy BB-8, she considers it but refuses his offer and leaves with BB-8, not knowing that the merchant contacts someone to steal the droid from her. Back on the Star Destroyer, Ren begins interrogating Poe and, using the Force, learns that the map is with BB-* and orders his men to find it. Some time later, FN-2187 takes Poe from the interrogation room and, pretending to be transferring the prisoner, sneaks him into an empty compartment and says he will help Poe escape if he takes him with him. Poe and Finn, what Poe decides to call the stormtrooper, sneak into a Tie-fighter and, after blasting the hangar while still tethered, manage to escape from the Star Destroyer and Poe heads back to Jakku to collect BB-8 but they are struck by a missile and end up crashing to the surface. When Finn regains consciousness, he goes looking for Poe but only finds his jacket before the wreckage disappears beneath the sand and explodes. Shedding his stormtrooper armor and donning Poe’s jacket, Finn makes his way to town and witnesses 2 men attempt to grab BB-8 from Rey but as he goes to try and help her, she manages to knock them both out. As Rey releases BB-8 from the bag they put him in, BB-8 sees Finn wearing Poe and cries out, causing Rey to notice him and chase him down. Knocking Finn to the ground, Rey questions him about the jacket and he explains that he helped Poe escape from the First Order but that Poe died when they crashed. Suddenly, they see a pair of stormtroopers being pointed in their direction and Finn grabs Rey and starts running, with the stormtroopers firing at them as they chase after them. The stormtroopers call in for some air support and a pair of Tie-fighters arrive and begin blasting the city. Rey, Finn, and BB-8 try to escape in a ship but when it blows up, they board an old Corellian YT-1300 freighter, with Finn manning the lower gun turret while Rey attempts to fly them out of there. After making their way through the wreckage of a Star Destroyer, and Finn shooting the two Tie-figters, Rey takes them into space but says she has to go back, as she is waiting for her family to come back and get her. Finn convinces her to help him get to the Resistance base, then secretly asks BB-8 to tell them where the base is. Before they can leave, their ship is captured by a larger freighter and they quickly hide only to be discovered by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who had seen the freighter and recognized it as their stolen Millennium Falcon. Han wants to get rid of them but when Finn says that BB-8 has a map leading to Luke Skywalker and they need to get to the Resistance, Han pauses and turns to face them. Suddenly, they hear a noise and when Han checks his ship’s sensors, they see a ship docking with them so he tells Rey and Finn to hide. Han is confronted by two gangs that he swindled money from and Rey tries to help by sealing the gangs behind the blast doors but accidentally releases two of the Rathtars that Han and Chewie were transporting. As the Rathtars begin attacking everyone, Han, Chewie, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 manage to get on board the Falcon, though Chewie is injured in the process, and escape but one of the gangs contacts the First Order to let them know that Han has the droid. Kylo Ren and General Hux go to see the First Order’s Supreme Commander Snoke and inform him of the latest developments and suggests they use their newest weapon to destroy the Republic, weakening the aid for the Resistance. After Hux leaves, Snoke speaks with Ren, asking if he will have a problem in his mission since Han Solo is his father but Ren says he means nothing to him. On the Falcon, Han asks to see the map that BB-8 has and after seeing it, says the map is incomplete. Rey asks what happened to Luke and Han says that Luke had been training a new generation of Jedi but one of his apprentices turned on him and destroyed everything. Luke felt responsible for what happened and simply left everything and rumors had him seeking out the first Jedi temple. Han agrees to help them get to the Resistance and heads for the planet Takodana and meets with Maz Kanata to get her help, but as they walk with her, a droid contacts the Resistance to inform them of BB-8’s location while a second patron contacts the First Order with the same information. As Maz is speaking with the group, she stares at Finn and says she sees the eyes of someone who is running, then points at two smugglers who are heading to the Outer Rim and Finn leaves to go talk to them. Rey follows and asks what he is doing and Finn asks her to come with him but when she refuses, he tells her to take care and leaves. Rey feels something compelling her to head down to the lower levels of the bar, where she finds a chest containing a lightsaber. When she touches it, she suddenly sees visions of Luke’s past, as well as her own, before seeing a future vision of her fighting Ren and she quickly drops the lightsaber and backs out of the room. Maz approaches her and explains that the lightsaber had belonged to Luke and now calls out for her but Rey doesn’t want anything to do with it and quickly runs from the building. Meanwhile, General Hux is giving a speech his troops as they prepare to fire the Starkiller, a planet that has been converted into a weapon more powerful than the Death Star, and they all watch as the beam fires, destroying the Republic capital and several smaller planets, as well as portions of the Republic’s fleet. On Takodana, Finn, Rey, Han, and Chewie, as well as several other patrons see the beam and the planets destructions. Finn goes back to Hand and Chewie and asks where Rey is and Maz hands Finn the lightsaber and tells him to give it to Rey, just as the First Order arrives and begins attacking. In the forest, Rey and BB-8 are running from some stormtroopers and Rey tells BB-8 to keep moving while she holds them off but she ends up being captured by Ren. Meanwhile, Finn, Han, and Chewie are captured by the First Order but are rescued when Resistance X-wings arrive and begin fighting the First Order. Ren orders his troops to fall back and Han and Finn see Ren carrying Rey on board his shuttle and leaving. When a Resistance transport arrives, Han is reunited with Leia and he tells her he saw their son. As they are taken back to the Resistance base, Finn finds out that Poe is still alive and the two friends embrace before Finn asks Poe for his help. Poe takes Finn to see Leia, and Finn says he knows about the Starkiller base and offers to tell them what he knows in exchange for her help in rescuing Rey. BB-8 gives them the map, which C-3P0 says matches no system in their charts, then BB-8 approaches the powered down form of R2-D2 and tries to get him to function but 3P0 approaches and says R2 hasn’t moved since Luke left. Back on Starkiller Base, Ren attempts to interrogate Rey with the Force to learn Luke’s location but Rey’s is able to resist and senses that Ren is scared he will never be as powerful as Darth Vader. Ren approaches Snoke and tells him of the situation and when Snoke asks about the droid, Hux appears and says that Ren said the droid wasn’t necessary since he had Rey and that it is probably in the hands of the Resistance. Not wanting the Resistance to locate Luke, Snoke orders Hux to use the Starkiller on the Resistance and Hux orders the weapon to charge, drawing it’s energy from a nearby sun to power it. Meanwhile, Rey is able to use the Force to influence her guard into freeing her and she leaves before Ren returns to take her to Snoke. Back at the Resistance Base, they learn that the Starkiller Base is charging to fire again and that they are it’s target. Finn tells them how they can destroy the base but he will need to be on the surface to do it and Han says he can get him there. As the Resistance prepare for the mission, Leia approaches Han and as they talk, she asks that he try and bring their son back alive. Han, Chewie, and Finn had off in the Falcon and reach the planet, breaking through their shield by coming in at light speed. Once they get inside the base, they capture Captain Phasma and have her lower the shields so the Resistance fighters can make their attack run. Finn wants to try and locate Rey but Han points behind them to show that Rey had escaped. They meet up with her, and Rey hugs Finn when she learns that the rescue was his plan, and they head outside but when they see that the Resistance fighters are not making any progress in destroying the weapon, Han says they can’t leave and they head to the firing oscillator, where Han and Chewie begin planting explosives inside. When Ren shows up inside the facility, Han goes to confront him, calling him by his real name, Ben. Ren seems to feel remorse and moves to hand over his lightsaber but as the star’s energy is finally drained, Ren stabs Han in the chest with his lightsaber. Han lovingly touches Ren’s face before falling down the shaft and Chewie roars in anger and loss before shooting Ren in the side, then detonating the explosives. Seeing the opening caused by the explosives, Poe has the remaining members of his team cover him as he flies inside, destroying the power cells from the inside and causing the weapon to explode. As Finn and Rey make their way back to the Falcon, they are confronted by Ren, who uses the Force to shove Rey into a tree, stunning her. Finn uses Luke’s lightsaber to attack Ren but Ren is able to overpower him and slashes Finn in the back. Ren then attempts to summons Luke’s lightsaber to his hand but it instead flies into Rey’s hand, who begins fighting with Ren. Ren starts to overpower her and says he can show her the ways of the Force but when she hears that, Rey calms down and is able to channel the Force to help her, eventually defeating Ren and slashing him across the face, leaving a scar. Before she can finish him off, the planet starts breaking apart due to the stored energy from the star and a chasm separates the two of them. Rey goes to Finn’s body just as Chewie shows up with the Falcon and they load him on board and leave the planet before it explodes, while Snoke orders Hux to bring Ren to him to complete his training. At the Resistance base, Finn is placed in a medical tank while Leia and Rey hug over the loss of Han. R2 reactivates and displays a map, with BB-8’s portion of the map showing the way to reach Luke. Rey leaves with Chewie and R2 and heads to the planet located on the map, where she finds Luke and hands him back his lightsaber.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens met with high praise from the critics, holding a 93% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.” In a tragic story of life imitating art, Mark Hamill and John Boyega lobbied director J.J. Abrams and Disney to allow Daniel Fleetwood, a Star Wars fan diagnosed with terminal cancer, to see the film early as he was not expected to live to see the movie released in theaters; which was similar to the plot of the movie Fanboys, where some friends attempted to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace before it hit theaters so their sick friend could see it. The Force Awakens was a box office juggernaut, earning $2.068 Billion off of a $306 million budget, making it the highest grossing installment in the franchise (unadjusted for inflation), the highest grossing film in North America, and the third highest grossing film of all time.

 I have to admit, Disney did a good job with this one. The acting was pretty good, with the new stars of Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), and Oscar Isaac (Poe) doing great jobs in their roles and taking up the reigns for a new generation. I like the glimpses we were given of Snoke and look forward to his development as the main bad guy but I was a little undecided about Adam Driver (Ren) but I think the emo, temper tantrum throwing portrayal was actually doing a halfway decent job in showing the struggle he was going between staying on the path to the Dark Side with Snoke or going back to the Light Side as he was taught by Luke and his family. Harrison Ford (Han), Peter Mayhew (Chewie), and Carrie Fisher (Leia) did good jobs reprising their roles but I wished they at least stated whether or not Han and Leia had gotten married. The story was good, but I have to admit that the similarities between this movie and A New Hope were too many to make it seem like this wasn’t more than a remake, which did hurt it some. The special effects were definitely top notch and were everything you would expect from a Star Wars movie. I also liked how rough and unpolished the lightsaber fights were, as even though Ren had some training, he is still struggling with his conflicting emotions (indicated by his tantrums and wildly slashing at objects), while Rey and Finn had no training so they would just wildly swing at Ren when they fought him. A really good movie but there is room for improvement with their storytelling in the future.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
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November 15th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi

star wars episode VI - return of the jedi

Every series must come to an end, and so it is with Star Wars. This movie has always had a sort of bitter sweet memory to it as this came out right as my parents’ divorce was finalizing. I remember going to see this in theaters with my dad and it was one of the last movies we saw before we moved to Birmingham. On one of my weekend visits to see my dad, I remember him renting this and watching it again with him, with him pointing out how jealous Han was of Luke at one point in the movie. Bittersweet memories aside, I have a lot of good ones regarding this so let’s finish off the trilogy with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi.

The plot: As a Star Destroyer approaches the forest moon of Endor, an Imperial shuttle and it’s Tie-Fighter escort departs from the hangar bay and heads towards the new Death Star that is under construction and in orbit around the moon. When the shuttle lands inside the Death Star, Vader disembarks and speaks with Moff Jerjerrod, the commander of the new Death Star, telling him he is displeased that they are falling behind and that the Emperor will be paying a visit to the station to ensure things go as scheduled. Meanwhile, C-3P0 and R2-D2 are on Tatooine and making their way to the palace of Jabba the Hutt. After gaining entry inside, they are escorted by Jabba’s major domo, Bib Fortuna, to the throne room, where R2 plays a holographic message from Luke Skywalker addressed to Jabba. In the message, Luke asks to meet with Jabba to bargain for the return of Han Solo, offering R2 and 3P0 as a gift. 3P0 is shocked when he hears that but Jabba laughs, saying he has no intention of returning his favorite decoration, staring at the wall where Han’s carbonite frozen body rests while 3P0 and R2 are fitted with restraining bolts and assigned to their new tasks. Back in the throne room, the crowd is watching as Jabba feeds a slave girl to the Rancor in the dungeon beneath the dungeon when an explosion is heard and a bounty hunter named Boushh enters, dragging a captured Chewbacca with him. After negotiating on the bounty, with Boushh threatening to kill them all with a thermal detonator when Jabba offers a lower price, Chewbacca is taken away while Boushh looks around and notices Boba Fett standing nearby, who nods a sign of respect towards the other bounty hunter. That night, as everyone is asleep, Boushh sneaks into the throne room and activates the controls on the carbonite and defrosts Han, who collapses to the ground. As Boushh checks on him, he takes off his mask to reveal he is really Leia, who kisses Han before helping him up. Before they can leave, they hear Jabba laughing and Jabba and his guards pull back the curtain they were hiding behind. Han, who is temporarily blind due to hibernation sickness, tries to reason with Jabba but Jabba has him taken to the dungeon, where he is reunited with Chewbacca, while keeping Leia to serve as his newest dancing/slave girl. The next day, Luke enters Jabba’s palace, using the Force to help him get past the guards and influence Bib Fortuna to announcing him. Jabba smacks Bib Fortuna, then laughs at Luke when he tries to influence Jabba’s mind. When that doesn’t work, Luke uses the Force to grab a blaster from a guard but Jabba activates the trap door, sending Luke and a Gamorrean guard to fall into the dungeon. As the Rancor is unleashed, the Gamorrean tries to climb back up the tunnel but the Rancor quickly grabs and eats him. As the Rancor turns and grabs him, Luke picks up a large bone to defend himself with and manages to wedge it in the creatures mouth, causing it to drop him before it snaps the bone in it’s jaws. Luke makes his way to a door behind the Rancor only to find guards taunting him so Luke picks up a skull and throws it at the door controls has the Rancor starts to enter the room, bringing the heavy door crashing down on it’s head and killing it. Jabba is enraged and orders Luke, Han, and Chewbacca brought before him, where he orders them to be thrown into the Great Pit of Carkoon, where the Sarlaac that lives there will digest them over a period of 1000 years. As they make their way to the pit, Luke tells Han to stay close to Chewie and Lando, who is disguised as one of Jabba’s guards. As Luke is pushed off the gang plank, he turns and grabs it, using it to flip over the guards just as R2, who was on the barge, launches Lukes new lightsaber that was hidden in him, into the air. Luke summons the lightsaber to him and begins attacking the guards, then frees Han and Chewie. As Jabba’s guards start firing on the skiff they are on, Boba Fett uses his rocket pack to head over there and attempt to capture Luke but Luke disarms him as a blast knocks them both to the floor, then Han accidentally hits Boba Fett’s rocket pack, sending him flying into the side of Jabba’s barge before tumbling into the Sarlacc. Inside Jabba’s barge, Leia uses everyone’s shock at what is happening to strangle Jabba with the chain holding her prisoner, then she is set free by R2, who then rescues 3P0. Meanwhile, Lando is knocked off the skiff and grabbed by the Sarlacc but Han, whose vision has returned, manages to shoot the tentacle and help pull Lando back to safety. Luke jumps onto Jabba’s barge and starts attacking the guards, as Leia arrives on the deck. Luke tells her to point the deck cannon at the deck, then he fires it as he grabs Leia and swings onto the nearby skiff and they fly off, picking up R2 and 3P0 from the sand where they had jumped to safety. As they leave Tatooine, Han, Leia, LAndo, Chewbacca, and 3P0 go to meet back up with the Rebel Alliance and Luke says he will meet them later, as he and R2 head to Dagobah to keep his promise to return to Yoda to finish his training. Meanwhile, the Emperor arrives on the Death Star and meets with Vader, who says the Death Star’s construction is on schedule and wishes to go looking for Luke again but the Emperor says that Luke will come to them too and together, they will turn Luke to the Dark Side of the Force. On Dagobah, Luke looks on in sadness at his dying Jedi master Yoda, who teases Luke about his reaction. When Yoda says he is dying and tells Luke he has nothing more to teach him, Luke asks if he is a Jedi now but Yoda tells him he must face Vader one more time. Luke asks Yoda if Vader is his father and Yoda confirms it, then says it is unfortunate that Luke found out this way, as if he had finished his training instead of rushing off, he would have been better prepared to handle the burden of the truth. Yoda warns Luke to be careful of the Emperor or else he might suffer the same fate as Vader and says when he dies, Luke will be the last of the Jedi but says the Force is strong in his family and says there is another Skywalker before he dies and his body disappears into the Force. Luke heads back to his X-Wing and is visited by the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When Luke asks why they never told him the truth, Obi-Wan explains that when Anakin turned into Vader, the Jedi he knew ceased to be so it was true from a certain point of view. When Luke asks about Yoda’s last words, Obi-Wan tells him that Luke had a twin sister, which was separated from him as Obi-Wan and Yoda wanted to keep them both safe from the Emperor and Vader. Luke realizes that Leia is his sister and Obi-Wan warns him to be careful, as Vader or the Emperor can use that knowledge against him. Back at the Rebellion rendezvous point, Han and the others attend a meeting, with Han expressing surprise that Lando was made a general in the Rebel Alliance. Mon Mothma brings the meeting to order and tells the assembled rebels that their spies located the location of the second Death Star. As Admiral Ackbar tells them that the Death Star’s weapons systems are non operational but is protected by an energy shield generated from Endor and that Lando will lead the attack on the Death Star once the shield is down. General Nadine then explains that they stole an Imperial shuttle and command codes and plan to use it to send a strike team to Endor to destroy the shield generator, then surprises everyone when he asks Han, calling him General Solo, if his team is ready. Han says his team is ready but not his command crew for the shuttle and Chewbacca, Leia, and a returning Luke quickly agree to go with him. As they prepare to leave, Han speaks with Lando and says tells Lando to take the Falcon on his assault, as it is the fastest ship in the fleet, and Lando agrees, promising that he won’t put a scratch on it. Han and Chewie pilot the shuttle to Endor, transmitting the code to get clearance, and as they wait, Luke senses Vader on the Super Star Destroyer that they are approaching. On board the Executor, Vader asks the ship’s commanding officer about the shuttle and when he is asked if they should hold it, Vader says to let it go. The shuttle lands on the moon and the team disembarks and starts making their way to the shield generator. When they come across a pair of Imperial Scout troopers, Han and Chewie try to take them out quietly but Han steps on a branch, alerting the troopers to their presence. As they start fighting with them, Luke and Leia see two more leaving on speeder bikes and they hop on a speeder bike and chase after them. They catch up to one of them and Luke jumps on the speeder bike, throwing the trooper into a tree, and they continue chasing after the second trooper. When two more troopers appear behind them, Luke slows down to deal with them while Leie keeps after the other trooper but both Leia and the trooper end up crashing their speeders. Luke finishes dealing with his two and heads back to Han and the others only to find that Leia hasn’t returned so Luke, Han, Chewie, R2, and 3P0 go looking for her. Leia is woken up by an Ewok named Wicket, who is cautious about her but grows more trusting as she gives him some food. Suddenly, Wicket grows nervous and starts looking out into the forest just as a laser blast is fired at them, and he quickly hides under the log they were sitting on as Leia looks for who fired at them. Leia is captured by a Scout trooper but Wicket hit’s his legs with his spear, allowing Leia to kill him and his partner, then Wicket leads Leia off into the woods. Vader goes to the Death Star to inform the Emperor that Luke is on Endor, which surprises the Emperor as he did not sense Luke’s presence, and he sends Vader to the moon’s surface, saying that Luke will come to Vader and then Vader should bring Luke to face him. Back on Endor, Luke and the others find evidence of Leia’s fight with the troopers but no sign of Leia. Chewie suddenly runs off into the forest, with the others following, but the only find a dead animal and when Chewie grabs it, they are caught in a net. R2 cuts them free and after they sit up, they find themselves surrounded by Ewoks. When the Ewoks see 3P0, they believe he is a god and take them all back to their village, where they prepare to sacrifice Han, Luke, and Chewie to appease 3P0, though 3P0 tries to tell the Ewoks to let them go. When Leia appears from a hut, she tries to convince the Ewoks to let the others go but the Ewoks refuse. Luke has 3P0 warn the Ewoks to stop or he will use his magic and when the Ewoks refuse again, Luke uses the Force to lift 3P0 and the chair he is in and start spinning in the air. The frightened Ewoks quickly free Han and the others and Luke lowers 3P0 back to the ground. That night, 3P0 tells the Ewoks of the fight between the Rebels and the Empire and the Ewoks’ leader, Chief Chirpa, and their shaman, Logray, make Han and the others members of their tribe and agree to help them. As the Ewoks all cheer, Luke steps outside and Leia follows after him and asks what is wrong. Luke tells her that Vader is on the moon and reveals that Vader is his father and Leia is his sister, and tells her he has to leave to face Vader, hoping to turn him back from the Dark Side. Luke leaves and Han goes outside to find out what is going on, getting jealous when Leia won’t tell him what her and Luke were talking about but he quickly apologizes and she hugs him. Vader arrives on Endor just as Luke surrenders to the Imperial troops and Vader speaks with Luke alone. Luke tries to convince Vader to leave with him and let him help him break free from the Emperor’s control but Vader says it is too late for him as he summons some stormtroopers to take Luke onto the shuttle. In the morning, Han and the others head to the shield generator and find it heavily guarded but the Ewoks tell them of another entrance and they make their way there. When they get there, one of the Ewoks sneaks down and steals one of the speeder bikes and rides off, with 3 scout troopers chasing after him, leaving only one guard at the entrance. Han and the others leave 3P0 and R2 behind with Wicket, then quickly subdue the guard and head inside the bunker. On the Death Star, Vader takes Luke before the Emperor and hands him Luke’s lightsaber, then taunts Luke about knowing the Rebel’s plans to attack the Death star and how he allowed the Rebel to learn of the station’s location in order to lure them into a trap. On Endor, 3P0 and R2 watch as an Imperial squad rushes into the bunker and captures Han and his team and Wicket runs off to get help. Out in space, Lando and the Rebel fleet arrive to begin their attack on the Death Star but when Lando realizes their sensors are being jammed, he realizes it is a trap and breaks off the attack. As they move away from the Death Star, they find themselves facing a fleet of Star Destroyers and are suddenly attacked by waves of Tie-fighters. On the Death Star, the Emperor has Luke watch the Rebel fleet fighting the Imperial fleet and taunts him into trying to attack him. Back on Endor, Han ad the others are led outside and 3P0 call out to the the Imperials and when some stormtroopers move to capture them, they are attacked by a group of Ewoks, who then summon more Ewoks to start attacking the Imperial troops. As the Ewoks use their primitive weapons to attack the stormtroopers, they find themselves being overwhelmed by the AT-ST’s. Out in space, Lando and the Rebel fighters continue fighting against the Tie-fighters when he notices that the Star Destroyers haven’t moved to attack them. Suddenly, the Death Star fires at the Rebel fleet and destroys one of the cruisers and Admiral Ackbar starts to order a retreat but Lando tells him that they won’t get a second chance at this, then tells him to move the Rebel fleet to attack the Star Destroyers, in order to keep the Death star from firing at them lest they hit their own ships. Back on Endor, Leia contacts R2 to try and get him to open the bunker but he is shot by a stormtrooper and damaged so Han attempts to hotwire the door. Chewie and two Ewoks swing onto an AT-ST and manage to take it over, then use it to destroy another one and begin attacking the Imperial troops while the Ewoks are finally able to destroy some of the other AT-STs. Back at the bunker, Leia is injured and when Han goes to check on her, they are captured by two stormtroopers but Han’s position has Leia hidden from the troopers’ view and she pulls out her blaster and shoots them. When Chewie arrives in the stolen AT-ST, Han starts to bring him down to help him with Leia but then changes his mind, saying he has an idea. On the Death Star, the Emperor’s taunting finally gets to Luke and he summons his lightsaber and tries to kill him but Vader stops him and the two begin battling. On Endor, Han uses the AT-STs communications system to tell the officers in the bunker that they need more men to hunt down the Rebels and when they open the blast door to send out more troops, the soldiers are captured and Han and the others head inside to set the charges. Back on the Death Star. Luke and Vader continue to battle and as Luke tries to reach out to his father and turn him from the Dark Side, Vader is able to sense Luke’s feelings and discover he has a sister. When Vader threatens to try and turn his daughter to the Dark Side, Luke becomes enraged and renews his attack on Vader, eventually cutting off his hand. The Emperor laughs and applauds Luke and tells him to kill Vader and assume his place at the Emperor’s side but Luke refuses, saying he is a Jedi like his father was. In retaliation, the Emperor begins electrocuting Luke with Force lightning and Luke cries out to Vader to help him. Seeing Luke close to death, Vader turns on the Emperor, grabbing him and throwing him down a shaft tothe power core but he is severely injured from the Emperor’s errant lightning strikes as well as the explosion of energy when the Emperor died. Han blows up the shield generator and Lando leads the fighter squads inside the Death Star to blow up the main power core, having some of the fighters break away to lure away some of the Tie-fighters chasing after them. Meanwhile, Admiral Ackbar orders his ships to concentrate their fire on the Executor and succeed in destroying the ship’s bridge, causing it to crash into the Death Star. Luke is carrying the injured Vader to a shuttle when Vader tells him to take his helmet off so he can see Luke with his own eyes. After Luke does as he asks, Vader thanks Luke for saving him and asks Luke tell his sister that Luke was right about there still being some good in him before he dies. Luke carries Vader’s body into a shuttle and escapes the Death star just as Lando and Wedge Antilles destroy the main reactor and escape themselves before the Death Star blows up. On Endor, Han, Leia, and the others see the Death Star’s explosion and Han tells Leia that Luke probably wasn’t on there when it blew. When Leia says that he wasn’t because she could feel it, Han offers to step away from the two of them but Leia explains that Luke is her brother before kissing the shocked Han, who smiles and kisses her back. That night, Luke places Vader’s body on a funeral pyre and lights it, paying his respects to his father before heading to the Ewok village and joining the others in celebrating their victory over the Empire. As the friends all greet each other and share stories, Luke walks away from the others for a bit, where he sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker smiling at him, before Leia pulls him back to join the celebration.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi met with mostly praise from the critics, holding an 80% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.” The Imperial officer who attempts to stop the Rebels in the bunker and is knocked off the railing when a satchel bomb is thrown at him is Ben Brutt, the man who rediscovered and made famous the “Wilhelm Scream”, and attempts to recreate it when he falls. The movie was a box office hit, earning $475.1 million off of a $32.5 million, making it the least profitable movie in the franchise.

I am not the least bit ashamed to admit this, this was my least favorite Star Wars movie before the prequels came out. The acting was good, with Mark Hamill (Luke), Harrison Ford (Han), and Carrie Fisher (Leia) all doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked Ian McDiarmid’s performance as the Emperor, as he really made the character feel like the embodiment of ultimate evil, and was glad that he was recast to play Palpatine in the prequels. The story was also good but I felt like the “tidy” ending was somewhat rushed, which it kind of was due to some personal issues in George Lucas’ life causing him to change how he originally visioned it. The puppetry with some of the character, such as Jabba and the Rancor, was very well done though some of the blue screen with the Rancor was a little weak. My favorite part of this movie though was the score, with the music during Luke and Vader’s fight helping to showcase the emotion involved in the fight. A good movie to watch and a fitting end to the series, but I still wish we could have seen things play out how Lucas originally wanted to do it.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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November 14th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith

star wars episode III - revenge of the sith

Ever since they announced a prequel trilogy for Star Wars, I eagerly awaited the last movie for one reason; I wanted to see the fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin. When this movie came out, I decided to have a massive Star Wars movie marathon as part of my birthday celebrations since the Star Wars movies always came out close to my birthday, So me, and my friends who showed up early enough, started watching the first two prequels at my house, went to the theaters to watch the latest movie, then went back to my house to watch the original trilogy. It was a lot of fun and I will admit that not everyone managed to stay awake throughout all of the movies. So let’s observe the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith.

The plot: Three years after the battle on Geonosis began the Galactic Civil War, the Separatist Fleet, led by the cyborg General Grievous, has launched an attack on Coruscant, the Republic Capital Planet, and kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. As a battle rages in space between Republic and Separatist forces, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker mount a rescue mission to rescue Palpatine, though Obi-Wan’s ship is damaged in the process of reaching Grievous’ ship. After locating Palpatine, they suspect they are walking into a trap so they leave R2-D2 behind with their ships while they head off to rescue him. After reaching the command tower, they approach Palpatine and move to rescue him but he alerts them to Count Dooku entering the room. The two Jedi move to face him, working as a team to try and overpower him but Dooku easily holds them at bay, then uses the Force to send Obi-Wan flying into a raised platform before dropping it on him. Anakin becomes enraged and manages to defeat Dooku, severing both of his hands as he disarms him and hold both his and Dooku’s lightsabers against his throat. Palpatine applauds Anakin’s victory, then orders Anakin to kill Dooku, eliciting Dooku to look at Palpatine in surprise, and Anakin hesitates but is eventually goaded by Palpatine into beheading Dooku. After freeing Palpatine, Anakin goes to check on Obi-Wan, though Palpatine says they should leave him behind, but as they make their way to the hangar, the battle outside intensifies and Grievous’ ship receives major damage, causing it to tilt precariously as it starts to lose orbit. Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine manage to avoid getting crushed by an elevator but end up captured and taken to Grievous, who takes their lightsabers from them. R2 causes a distraction, allowing Obi-Wan and Anakin to use the Force to retrieve their lightsabers and begin battling Grievous’ Magnaguards. Once they defeat them, they go after Grievous but he destroys the cockpit hatch, allowing himself to be sucked out into space while Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine struggle to hold on so they don’t follow after him until the safety windows are closed. Grievous uses a tow cable to climb along the outside of the ship and drop back inside, where he enters an escape pod and ejects from the ship, then launches all of the remaining escape pods. With the ship falling apart and still dropping out of orbit, Anakin and Obi-Wan, with R2’s assistance, attempt to safely land the ship, though it ends up breaking in half as they enter the atmosphere, and the eventually crash land on a prepared runway. After a shuttle collects them and escorts them back to the capital, Palpatine, Anakin, and R2 disembark but Obi-Wan stays on board so he can go report to the Jedi Council about the latest developments. As Palpatine speaks with Mace Windu about Grievous’ escape and heads inside with the other senators,  Anakin talks briefly with Senator Bail Organa before meeting with his wife Padme, who embraces him and after expressing her happiness that he is still alive, tells him that she is pregnant. Padme worries about what they are going to do, as Anakin has already broken the Jedi code by marrying her, and Anakin says not to worry as this is a happy occasion. Meanwhile, Grievous arrives at his base on the planet Utapau and contacts Darth Sidious, who tells him to send the Separatist leaders to the volcanic planet Mustafar and says the war is almost over. When Grievous asks if Dooku’s loss will affect their plans, Sidious informs him that he will soon have a new apprentice, one who is younger and more powerful than Dooku. That night, Anakin has a dream of Padme dying during childbirth and after telling Padme about it and saying he won’t let it happen, he goes to speak to Yoda about premonitions within the Force. Yoda questions Anakin about the dream and when Anakin says it involves someone close to him, Yoda warns him not to get too attached as it could lead to the Dark Side. Later, Anakin goes to speak with Obi-Wan, who tells him that the Senate is voting on giving Palpatine more executive powers then tells him that Palpatine wishes to see Anakin, but is uneasy as he did not make the request through the Council as protocol dictates and warns Anakin to be careful around him. Anakin goes to see Palpatine, who asks Anakin to be his representative on the Jedi Council and Anakin is excited at the opportunity. At the Jedi Temple, the Council reluctantly agrees to give Anakin a seat at the Council but refuses to make him a Master, which upsets Anakin. As the Council meeting continues, Yoda decides to head to Kashyyyk, to help reinforce the Wookies in their fight against the droid armies. After the meeting, Anakin is still upset about not becoming a Master and Obi-Wan tries to calm him down then tells him that the Council gave him the seat because they want him to spy on Palpatine, as he is grabbing more and more power for himself. As they head to the shuttle pads, Obi-Wan tells Mace and Yoda of Anakin’s reluctance to handle the assignment and Mace voices his doubts concerning Anakin but Obi-Wan says he will do what needs to be done as he is “the Chosen One” to bring balance to the force. Meanwhile, Anakin voices his concerns that the Jedi might be losing their way during the course of the war and Padme says that she wonders if the longer they fight the war, the more they end up becoming the bad guys. That night, Palpatine has Anakin meet him at an opera and after Palpatine discusses how the Jedi seem to be against democracy, with Anakin agreeing with him, Palpatine tells Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Sith Lord so powerful, he was able to create life and keep his loved ones from dying. When Anakin asks if it is possible to learn this ability, Palpatine tells him not from a Jedi. Later, Anakin relays news that Palpatine received concerning Grievous’ whereabouts and says Palpatine suggested he lead the assault but the Council denies that request and chooses to send Obi-Wan instead. After the meeting, Anakin is walking with Obi-Wan and voices his displeasure with the Council, then apologizes to Obi-Wan for not being a better student and wishes him luck on his journey. Obi-Wan heads to Utapau and speaks with the planet emissary, who whispers that Grievous and an army of droids are on the tenth level of the facility. Using a lizard mount, Obi-Wan heads up there and manages to sneak into the level, just as Grievous is sending the leaders to Mustafar. Obi-Wan drops down to face Grievous, dispatching the Magnaguards that Grievous sends after him, and as Grievous drops his cloak to fight Obi-Wan, he reveals that he has 4 arms, with a lightsaber wielded in each hand. As they fight, Obi-Wan manages to cut off two of Grievous’ hands when his reinforcements, led by Commander Cody, arrive. Grievous climbs into his personal vehicle and attempts to flee and Obi-Wan chases after him but loses his lightsaber, which Cody picks up. Cody transmits a report to the Jedi Council and Mace tells Anakin to alert Palpatine to the attack. After he leaves, Mace speaks to the other Council members via hologram and says he feels Palpatine is involved in a plot to destroy the Jedi and if he won’t relinquish his emergency power after Grievous’ defeat, then they will be forced to remove him from office. Anakin goes to Palpatine’s office and tells him about Obi-Wan’s attack and Palpatine begins speaking out against the Jedi Council and reveals himself to be Darth Sidious, and asks that Anakin join him and he can teach him to become more powerful in the force in order to save Padme but Anakin leaves to alert the Jedi Council about Palpatine, saying he will learn who is telling him the truth. Back on Utapau, Obi-Wan continues his pursuit of Grievous and as Grievous is about to kill him, Obi-Wan uses the Force to grab a nearby blaster and uses it to shoot Grievous, eventually killing him. Back on Coruscant, Mace Windu, Kit Fisto, and two other Jedi Masters are preparing to head over to speak with Palpatine and tell him of Grievous’ death and demand he return the emergency powers back to the Senate when Anakin approaches Mace and tells him that Palpatine is Darth Sidious. Anakin asks to go with Mace when they confront him but Mace tells him know, fearing Anakin’s troubled mind would be a weapon Palpatine could use against them, and tells him to wait in the Council chamber until they return but Anakin disobeys and follows after them. Mace and the Jedi’s enter Palpatine’s chamber and move to place him under arrest but Palpatine says they are committing treason, then pulls out his lightsaber and begins attacking them. He quickly kills Kit Fisto and the other two Jedi but Mace is able to battle back and eventually get the upper hand on him. When Anakin arrives, Mace has Palpatine pinned down and Palpatine tries to convince Anakin that the Jedi have turned traitor, then attacks Mace with Force lightning when Mace tries to convince Anakin that Palpatine is lying. Mace is able to deflect the lightning with his lightsaber and direct it back towards Palpatine, causing him to age as the lightning saps his strength. When Palpatine stops firing the lightning, Mace decides he is too dangerous to let live and goes to kill him but Anakin pleads with Mace to let him live, saying it isn’t the Jedi way. When Mace doesn’t stop, Anakin uses his lightsaber to cut off Mace’s arm and as he cries out in pain, Palpatine uses the lightning again to send him flying out the window to his death. Anakin is in anguish over what he has done but Palpatine says he did the right thing and convinces Anakin to join him as his apprentice. Renaming Anakin Darth Vader, Palpatine tells him that all of the Jedi are now their enemies and he sends Vader with a squad of troopers to kill everyone in the Jedi Temple, including the younglings, and after he leaves, Palpatine sends a communication to all of his clone officers and tells them to execute Order 66, a command hidden in the clones programming to attack the Jedi. Back on Utapau, Obi-Wan regroups with Cody, who hands Obi-Wan his lightsaber, and then he heads back into battle when Cody receives the order and has his men attack Obi-Wan, blasting the rock his lizard mount is climbing and sending him plummeting into a deep pool below but he survives and is able to avoid detection. As other Jedi Masters and Knights across the galaxy are killed by the clones, Yoda is struck by their loss through the Force but when two clone troopers try to kill him, he quickly kills them, then is helped off of Kashyyyk by the Wookies Chewbacca and Tarfful. Back on Coruscant, Senator Bail Organa goes to the Jedi Temple but is told to leave by a group of clone soldiers. As he goes to leave, he witnesses them kill a young Padawan and quickly leaves before they can attack him, then heads off to find Yoda, telling his men if any Jedi would have survived it would have been him. Back on Utapau, Obi-Wan continues to evade the clones and makes his way to Grievous’ ship and leaves the planet. While trying to call for help, he receives a transmission from Organa, who tells him that all of the Jedi had been betrayed by the clones but he has Yoda with him and sends Obi-Wan their coordinates so he can meet with them. Back on Coruscant, Anakin returns to Padme’s apartment and tells her that the Jedi turned against the Republic but he will remain loyal and then heads off to the Mustafar system under Palpatine’s orders. Out in space, Obi-Wan docks on Organa’s ship and heads inside, where he discusses the situation with Yoda and Organa. Hearing that a coded message telling the Jedi to return to the temple is being transmitted, Obi-Wan says they must go to the temple and shut off the beacon, as it is merely luring any surviving Jedi into a trap. As they reach Coruscant, Organa receives word of a special Senate session and thinks it might be a trap but Yoda disagrees, as Palpatine will still need the Senate to help run the galaxy, and Yoda thinks it will make sneaking into the temple easier. Meanwhile, Sidious contacts the Separatist leaders and tells them that the war is almost over and his assistant, Darth Vader, will be arriving to take care of them. When Vader arrives, on the planet, he enters the chamber that the leaders are in, then seals it before proceeding to kill all of them. As Palpatine delivers a message to the Senate, telling them of the Jedi’s “betrayal” and attack on him and declaring the Republic to now be the First Galactic Empire, Obi-Wan and Yoda enter the temple and recalibrate the signal. Obi-Wan then views the security footage of the temple to learn who betrayed the Jedi and witnesses Anakin attacking the temple and killing the younglings. Deciding to face the Sith, Obi-Wan asks Yoda to let him face Palpatine but Yoda says Palpatine is too powerful for him to face and says Obi-Wan must face and defeat Anakin. OBi-Wan goes to see Padme, asking her help in locating Anakin and telling him how Anakin and everyone had been deceived by Palpatine but she doesn’t believe him. As he goes to leave, Obi-Wan asks Padme if Anakin is the father of her baby and when she bows her head, he says he is sorry and walks away. Padme boards a spaceship and prepares to head to Mustafar to see Anakin but Obi-Wan manages to stow away on the ship. When Padme reaches Mustafar, Anakin rushes out to greet her and asks what she is doing there. Padme confronts him about what Obi-Wan told her and when Anakin confirms that he did what he must, she begs him to leave everything behind and leave with her so they can raise their child together. When Anakin sees Obi-Wan at the top of the ship’s gangplank, he accuses Padme of betraying him and starts to Forcechoke her but Obi-Wan convinces him to stop and she collapses to the ground. As Obi-Wan goes to check on her, Anakin starts ranting at him and the two begin fighting. Back on Coruscant, Yoda enters Palpatine’s chambers and confronts Palpatine, who uses his Force lightning to blast Yoda into a wall. As he laughing approaches Yoda’s body, Yoda gets up and Force shoves Palpatine over his desk, then the two begin fighting with lightsabers as Palpatine’s Senate platform rises up into the Senate Chamber. As the two continue fighting, Palpatine begins hurling Senate platforms at Yoda, and after avoiding several of them, Yoda stops one and sends it hurtling back at Palpatine, then presses his attack. Palpoatine fires Force lightning at Yoda, who blocks it but the resulting feedback due to their close proximity knocks him to the ground and as Palpatine laughs while he struggles to climb back onto his own platform, Yoda crawls away and contacts Organa, who picks him up and helps him escape. Yoda says that he must go into exile as he failed to stop Palpatine while Palpatine tells his men to keep searching for Yoda, then orders Commander Cody to prepare a shuttle as he wants to check on Vader. Back on Mustafar, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s fight continues, with one of Anakin’s blows destroying the computer controlling the force fields, causing them to drop and making the whole complex vulnerable to the lava on the planet’s surface. As they continue to fight, they end up on a platform floating down a river of lava and as they find themselves locked in a stalemate, Obi-Wan jumps onto the nearby shore and the two continue to argue their different viewpoints as to who is evil. When Anakin leaps from the platform and attempts to attack Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan slashes at him and ends up severing both of Anakin’s legs  at the knees and his left arm. As Anakin cries out in pain and slides down to the lava river’s edge, Obi-Wan cries out that Anakin was supposed to bring balance to the Force, not destroy it and that he was like a brother to him. Obi-Wan picks up Anakin’s lightsaber and as Anakin catches on fire, Obi-Wan leaves him to die and heads back to the shuttle, finding that C-3PO and R2 had already gotten Padme on board and prepared it for takeoff. They leave just as Palpatine’s shuttle arrives on the planet and Palpatine finds a badly burned Vader struggling to climb up out of the river and orders Vader placed in a medical capsule. Obi-Wan meets up with Yoda and Organa on a hidden medical facility, where the medical droid says that she is dying, having given up the will to live, but the must act quickly in order to save her babies. Padme gives birth to her twins, naming them Luke and Leia, and tells Obi-Wan that there is still good in Anakin before she dies. Meanwhile, Palpatine has Vader taken back to Coruscant, where he is fitted with cybernetic limbs and armor (containing a breathing apparatus for his damaged lungs) and after learning that Padme died, he cries out, destroying the machinery in the lab as he does. Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Organa decide to keep the twins hidden and separate them so that Vader and Palpatine can’t find them. Organa says he will adopt Leia while Yoda tells Obi-Wan to take Luke to Tatooine to live with his aunt and uncle, Owen and Beru Lars. Before Obi-Wan leaves, Yoda tells him that while on Tatooine, he is to begin training in a new aspect of the Force, one that will allow him to communicate with Qui Gon Jinn. As they leave to drop off the prospective twins, Yoda heads to the planet Dagobah to live in exile while Palpatine and Vader head out into space, where they oversee the beginning stages of construction on Palpatine’s secret weapon, the Death Star.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas brings his second Star Wars trilogy to a suitably thrilling and often poignant — if still a bit uneven — conclusion.” In preparation for their final fight, Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen trained in fencing and fitness for two months, with the end result being the speed of their duel that was filmed being unaltered in the completed movie. The movie was a box office success, earning $848.8 million off of a $113 million budget but like it’s predecessor, it was not the #1 box office movie that year.

There were some flaws, but this got the job done and was a nice way to wrap up the trilogy. The acting was ok, with Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan), Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine), Christopher Lee (Dooku), and Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu) all did great jobs in their roles. As good of an actress as she is, Natalie Portman’s performance of Padme felt a little bland while Hayden Christensen (Anakin) was just terrible, with it seeming like he put no real inflection in his tone, making him sound flat and somewhat robotic (a criticism many people cited against him). Minus some dialogue issues, the story was pretty good and did it’s part in ending the prequel trilogy while setting up how the initial trilogy would start. I will admit that the scene with Vader learning of Padme’s death and crying out in loss was incredibly stupid, but my guess they were trying to humanize him a little more (but it kind of made him seem even more robotic). My favorite part was the twist with the prophecy regarding Anakin, as he did bring balance to the Force in a fashion, just not in the way the Jedi thought. The special effects in this movie were great, with the various battle scenes being incredibly well done. The fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan was not what I expected but everything I could have hoped for. I also loved the imagery, whether intentional or not, in the fact that before the duel started, Obi-Wan kept appearing in the light while Anakin always had a darker backdrop behind him. The lava eruptions as they fought, which were footage of an actual volcano erupting, added to the dynamic of the fight. Faults aside, this is the best movie out of the prequels and worth watching to see how they set things up.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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November 13th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

star wars the clone wars

So with the prequel trilogy a success, it looked like it would be another 15 years or so before we would get a new movie. Luckily, someone at Lucasfilm Animation had a different idea. Before Revenge Of The Sith came out, there was a short animated series on Cartoon Network which won several awards. Seeing how much interest there was in an animated series, Lucasfilm Animation decided to make another series, but this time with a full length movie serving as the pilot for the series. I will admit that I did not see this movie in theaters when it came out but wound up watching it after it showed up on Netflix along with the Clone Wars series a few years ago. So I decided to pick it up on DVD in order to complete my Star Wars collection, which brings us to today’s movie, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The plot: As the Galactic Civil War continues to rage, the Separatists Armies have taken control of the hyperspace lanes, making it difficult for the Jedi and their clone soldiers to move throughout the systems. As this is going on, Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta is kidnapped by a rival gang and he contacts the Jedi for help in rescuing him. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine says they have to help Jabba, hoping to use the opportunity to make a treaty with the Hutts, who control the Outer Rim, and use their space lanes to help turn the tide of battle. Mace Windu says the only Jedi they can spare are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, who are finishing a campaign on the planet Christophosis, and Palpatine says to contact them immediately. Mace Windu and Yoda contact the Republic fleet in orbit above Christophosis and ask that they escort their messenger to Obi-Wan and Anakin immediately. On the planet’s surface, Obi-Wan and Anakin, along with their clone troops, manage to successfully hold off an assault by the Separatists’ droid army when a shuttle lands and Ahsoka Tano, a Togruta Padawan exits. Ahsoka relays Yoda’s message to them and when they explain their situation to her, she suggest routing a message from her shuttle to the command ship to try and contact the Jedi Temple. They manage to reach Yoda, who tells them that he will send reinforcements but their transmission is cut off as the command ship, drastically outgunned, is forced to move position and come back for them later. Obi-Wan introduces himself and Anakin to Ahsoka, believing her to be his new Padawan but she explains that Yoda assigned her to Anakin. Anakin is shocked and not happy about this but reluctantly takes her with him as he goes to check on their defenses. Meanwhile, Asajj Ventress, the apprentice to Count Dooku, contacts him to inform him of her success in capturing Rotta when Darth Sidious appears in the hologram and says that their plan to have the Hutts attack the Jedi is proceeding as planned. Back on Christophosis, Anakin introduces Ahsoka to Captain Rex, one of the clone leaders, and as Rex shows Ahsoka around, they see the droids approaching under the cover of an energy shield. Discussing their options, Ahsoka suggest destoying the shield generator and Anakin agrees with her and the two head off to find a way to the generator. Meanwhile, a republic scouting party have followed some bounty hunters to an old monastery on the planet Teth, where they believe Rotta is being kept and report it to Mace and Yoda. Mace tells them to stay out of sight and keep watch while Yoda heads off to rescue Obi-Wan and Anakin. Back on Christophosis, Anakin and Ahsoka hide underneath a box as the shield, and troops, pass over them, then head towards the generator but in her rush to get there, Ahsoka trips the security system, causing droids to appear and attack them. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and the clones are being overrun so he orders Rex to have the clones fall back to the heavy cannons and defend them while he tries stalling the droids by faking a surrender. Back at the generator, Anakin deals with the droids while Ahsoka plants the explosive charges and as she helps him destroy the last of the droids, she blows up the generator. With the energy shield collapsing, Obi-Wan is able to capture the Separatist general while Rex and the clones destroy the droid tanks and soldiers, just as Yoda and the reinforcements arrive. As they wait to be picked up, Anakin talks with Ahsoka and admits that while rough around the edges, she did a good job and he agrees to take her on as his Padawan. After Anakin and Ahsoka return to their base, Yoda explains the situation and sends Anakin and Ahsoka to Teth to rescue Rotta, while sending Obi-Wan to Tatooine to negotiate an agreement with Jabba. On Tatooine, the heads of the bounty hunters Jabba sent to find his son have been sent back to him and he angrily contacts Palpatine and demands that the Jedi find and return his son. Obi-Wan arrives on Tatooine and meets with Jabba, who demands that they also bring him the ones responsible for kidnapping his son. Anakin and Ahsoka arrive on Teth and after Anakin speaks with the scouts and learns the situation, they head out to the monastery. After reaching the monastery, they scale the cliff walls and make their way to the top. Ahsoka, wanting to beat Anakin to the top, is riding on an AT-TE (All Terrain Tactical Enforcer) but finds herself in trouble when the droids start targeting it and almost causes it to fall. Anakin saves her, and the AT-TE, then commandeers a droid STAP (Single Trooper Aerial Platform) to reach the top, taking out the droids while Ahsoka and the AT-TE take out the Destroyer droids that show up. After securing the monastery, Anakin and Ahsoka head inside, meeting a caretaker droid who tells them where Rotta is. Anakin and Ahsoka head down to the detention levels, dealing with the few droids they find, and find Rotta but Ahsoka notices that he is running a fever so they place him in a med-evac pack. However, Ventress has the caretaker droid record this, which Dooku uses to convince Jabba that the Jedi were the ones to kidnap his son. Back on Teth, Ventress leads a droid army to attack Anakin’s troops and they are forced to fall back into the monastery. As Captain Rex and the clones hold the droids back, Anakin, Ahsoka, and R2 try to find another way out of there so they can save Rotta. They find a hidden platform and try to contact Obi-Wan, who had arrived with reinforcements, to pick them up there but their transmissions are jammed. When Ventress shows up with two Destroyer droids, Anakin has R2 seal the door to buy them some time. Rotta points out another platform with a ship on it and Anakin jumps onto a large flying insect, then grabs Ahsoka as she is trying to fend off Ventress and heads for the platform, with R2 following behind them. When they reach the platform, Ahsoka discovers that the caretaker droid was working with Ventress and the droids and destroys the droids on the ship. Obi-Wan and his reinforcements arrive to help Captain Rex and his surviving men, and Obi-Wan ends up fighting Ventress inside the monastery. Anakin and Ahsoka get the old spice freighter started and make their way to the Republic cruiser but when it comes under too much fire and some droids breach the hangar, they are forced to take the freighter to Tatooine themselves. Ventress and Obi-Wan both sense that Anakin has left the planet and Ventress decides to escape, and contacts Dooku, who has her tell Jabba that Anakin killed Rotta and is now coming to kill him. While making the hyperspace jump, Ahsoka is able to find some medicine to give to Rotta, then helps Anakin work on repairing the ship’s systems in case they find trouble waiting for them. When they reach Tatooine, they are attacked by two droid ships and are able to take them out but not before their ship is damaged and they end up crashing in the desert. Obi-Wan contacts Palpatine, Yoda, and Mace, explaining his thoughts that Ventress and Dooku are trying to make it look like the Jedi kidnapped Rotta in order to get the Hutts to align themselves with the Separatists. When Padme arrives Palpatine dismisses the Jedi and tells her what is going on and Padme offers to negotiate with Jabba but Palpatine tells her that Jabba won’t accept any communication with them so she says she will go see Jabba’s uncle Ziro, who has a club in Coruscant, and see if he will help them get contact, with Palpatine warning her to be careful. Padme heads to the club and attempts to persuade Ziro of the Jedi’s innocence but Ziro refuses to believe her and has her thrown out of the club. Padme sneaks back in and learns that Ziro was working with Dooku to overthrow Jabba but she ends up being captured but is able to get a message to C-3P0 as she is locked up. On Tatooine, Anakin and Ahsoka make their way to Jabba’s palace when they sense Dooku approaching them. Anakin gives Rotta to Ahsoka, telling her to keep going to Jabba’s palace while he faces off with Dooku. As the two fight, Dooku shows Anakin footage from his Magnaguards, who are battling Ahsoka, and Anakin manages to push Dooku back, then takes Dooku’s speeder and heads off. Back on Coruscant, Padme is rescued by some clone troopers and they capture Ziro, who tells them he was forced to help Dooku kidnap Rotta. Back on Tatooine, Ahsoka was knocked down an embankment by the Magnaguards, so Anakin doesn’t see her when he arrives. When Anakin enters the palace and finds Ahsoka isn’t there, he questions Jabba, threatening to kill him and Jabba claims this is proof that the Jedi were here to kill him. Ahsoka finishes off the Magnaguards and arrives at the palace and returns Rotta to Jabba but Jabba still orders them killed. Suddenly, Padme contacts Jabba through Ziro’s communication device and explains how Dooku and Ziro were behind the kidnapping. Jabba says that Ziro will be punished by the Hutt Families and that the Republic forces will be able to use the Hutt’s trade routes to move their ships. As Obi-Wan and Yoda arrive to pick up Anakin and Ahsoka, Dooku makes his escape and contacts Sidious, who says that things are still going their way in the war.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was panned by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Mechanical animation and a less-than stellar script make The Clone Wars a pale shadow of George Lucas’ once great franchise.” During one scene in the movie, there is a pink R2 droid called R2-KT. This is a reference to Katie Johnson, the daughter of Albin Johnson (the founder of the 501st Legion), who died of cancer when she was 7 and the costumers built a pink R2 droid to keep her spirits up during her final days. The movie was a box office hit, earning $68.3 million off of an $8.5 million budget and spawned an animated series which lasted for 6 seasons.

This is a pretty entertaining movie that is a nice fit into the Star Wars franchise. The voice acting was pretty good, with Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, and Matthew Wood reprising their roles of Mace Windu, Count Dooku, C-3P0, and the battle droids respectively. The story was pretty interesting, with the idea of Anakin Skywalker having a Padawan making for an interesting story as you are left to wonder what happened to her after he became Vader. The interaction between Anakin and Ahsoka was very well done, with both of them playing off of each other’s impulsiveness. The CGI animation was pretty good, though some characters looked a little too square for my liking but over all, the lines were pretty smooth and well created. A great movie to watch and a nice pause in the Anakin Skywalker saga before he turns into Darth Vader.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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