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

adventure, comedy, movie, movie review

October 5th, 2018 Movie -Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery

austin powers

Ok folks. I am done playing catch up so it is back to reviewing all of the movies I bought or was gifted over the year. So let’s start with today’s movie, Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I did not buy this movie, nor did any of my friends give it to me. So how is it that I own this movie and doing a review for it, you might ask? Well, the answer to that lies in the modern era of movies and digital/ultraviolet copies. See, several of the movies I have bought over the years have codes for ultraviolet or digital copies included with them. So I had signed up for a Vudu account, and a Movies Anywhere account, and inputted the codes onto the site to get the digital copies of the movies. However, what I honestly didn’t notice at the time is that I was given several movies for free when I opened these accounts. The only reason I noticed was when I listed my movies in alphabetical order and this movie came up towards the front. So there are going to be some movie reviews over the next few weeks for movies that I honestly would never have considered buying, but I will be fair with my reviews. Now, onto to today’s movie. I will admit that I did not see this movie in theaters but I saw it numerous times when it came out on video, as it seemed like everyone wanted to rent it or would buy their own copy. I have to admit that it has been a while since I watched it so let’s see if it still holds up.

The plot: In a secret lair outside of Las Vegas in 1967, Dr. Evil is holding a meeting with some of the world’s deadliest assassins, where he chastises them for failing to kill Austin Powers; promptly killing 4 of them and leaving Frau Farbissina and Mustafa still alive to deal with Austin. In London, Austin Powers and his partner, Mrs. Kensington, are contacted by Basil Exposition, head of British Intelligence, who warns them about a plot to kill Austin at the Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club. Austin and Mrs. Kensington head to the club and uncover one of the assassins posing as a woman but before the can question him, he is shot in the back with a harpoon by Dr. Evil. Austin and Mrs. Kensington give chase only to see Dr. Evil, and his cat Mrs. Bigglesworth get into a cryo-preservation pod and launch into space inside a rocket disguised as a Big Boy statue. 30 years later, a NORAD radar operator contacts Commander Gilmour to alert him about an object shaped like Big Boy entering Earth’s orbit before it disappears somewhere over Nevada. Realizing what this means, Gilmour heads to London and meets with Basil at the British Department of Defense. Basil explains that Austin had volunteered to be frozen in case Dr. Evil returns and they proceed to thaw him out. Once Austin is thawed out, he is introduced to his new partner, Mrs. Kensington’s daughter Vanessa, who tells him that she will be working on getting him acclimated to the 90’s, and after collecting his possessions, they head out to his private jet and take off for Nevada. Meanwhile, in Dr. Evil’s lair, Dr. Evil meets with his henchmen, having Mustafa killed for his failure with the cryo unit that resulted in Mrs. Bigglesworth’s hair falling out. Dr. Evil then introduces Frau Farbissina to Patty O’Brien, Random Task, and Numer 2, who runs the legitimate arm of Dr. Evil’s empire, Virtucon. Dr, Evil tells his henchmen that he has some ideas on holding the world for ransom but when he is told that his plans have already occurred, he decides that they should just steal a nuke and blackmail for $100 billion (after learning that $1 million is no longer as high a sum as it was in ’67). Later, Frau tells him that the used some of the semen he had frozen to create a son, and introduces him to Scott but Scott is resentful that Dr. Evil is just now showing up and tells him that he hates him. On Austin’s plane, Vanessa is trying to be serious about the mission but Austin keeps attempting to seduce her, only to be shot down. When they arrive in Las Vegas, Vanessa explains that they are undercover as a married couple and that Virtucon executives gamble at the casino they are staying in, then points out Number 2. Austin joins Number 2 at the black jack table and after losing his hand, tells Vanessa to keep an eye on his assistant, Alotta Fagina, while he follows Number 2. Austin follows Number 2 into the men’s room only to lose him but as he sits on one of the toilets, Patty O’Brien appears from a secret panel and attempts to strangle him but Austin is able to kill him by drowning him in the toilet. Back at his lair, Dr. Evil shows his cohorts that they have successfully grabbed the nuke before placing a call to the United Nations. Once he has them on the view screen, Dr. Evil tells them that they must pay him $100 billion if they want the nuke back, then ends the call when they tell him they don’t negotiate with terrorists. Back in Las Vegas, Austin and Vanessa are staking out Virtucon when Austin sees Random Task carrying Mrs. Bigglesworth out of the building and recognizes her. With nothing to do for the time being, Austin takes Vanessa for a night on the town and when they return to the hotel, a drunken Vanessa asks Austin to kiss her but he refuses, not wanting to take advantage of her. Vanessa then asks him to tell her about her mother when he knew her and Austin tells her that she loved her husband and if she wasn’t married, he might have tried being serious with her, as he loved her as well, but that ship sailed. Vanessa falls asleep and Austin receives a video call from Basil, telling him to sneak into Alotta Fagina’s penthouse and discover what she knows about something called Project Vulcan. Austin breaks into the penthouse and takes pictures of her files when Alotta Fagina returns to her penthouse, only to find Austin sitting there waiting for her. Austin speaks with her briefly before she changes into a kimono and invites Austin into the hot tub with her and they eventually end up having sex, but not before Alotta learns Austin’s real identity. The next day, Vanessa takes Austin to get some new equipment and Austin shows Basil the files he photographed from Alotta’s penthouse while Vanessa tells Basil that they plan on going as tourists on the tour of Virtucon and see if they can discover where Project Vulcan is and shut it down. Meanwhile, Dr. Evil is upset that Austin is getting close to their scheme but Frau shows him her new weapon to kill Austin; android women called Fembots, with guns hidden inside their breasts. Dr. Evil is pleased with the Fembots but is less than thrilled having to attend a father/son counseling session with Scott. Back in Las Vegas, Vanessa talks to Austin and voices her concerns and jealousy about Alotta Fagina and when Austin tells her she was right to be concerned, as he did sleep with her, Vanessa gets upset with him, telling him that this isn’t the 60’s anymore. Austin goes out and has a hard look at himself, realizing almost everyone he knew is dead and how much really happened while he was frozen. The next day, Austin and Vanessa head to Virtucon and sneak inside but after they make it past the guards, they are knocked unconscious by Random Task and transported to Dr. Evil’s lair. Inside his lair, Dr. Evil contacts the U.N. and tells them what Project Vulcan entails and the U.N. agrees to pay the ransom. Dr. Evil then has Austin and Vanessa join him for dinner, which confuses Scott as he feels they should just shoot them and be done with it. Dr. Evil tells Scott that he doesn’t get how things work, then orders Austin and Vanessa lowered into a pit containing sharks with lasers on their head but Number 2 says they couldn’t get the sharks and instead have mutated sea bass. Leaving Austin and Vanessa to their fate, Dr. Evil heads off to start the drill for Project Vulcan. Austin and Vanessa manage to escape the trap and Austin sends Vanessa to get some back up while he keeps an eye on Dr. Evil but he ends up being captured by the fembots. Trying to get away from the fembots, Austin decides to counter their charms with his own and ends up shorting them out and making their heads explode. Vanessa shows up at the aftermath and wonders why Austin is in his briefs and when he explains what happened, she tells him she believes him and to get dressed. Austin and Vanessa lead an attack on the drilling platform and Austin manages to abort the drill before it reaches the Earth’s core but Dr. Evil gets away. Austin chases after him and goes to capture him but Alotta Fagina appears, holding a gun to Vanessa’s head. Austin grabs Scott to hold hostage but when Dr. Evil tells Austin to go ahead and kill him, Scott runs out of the room. Number 2 shows up but instead of helping Dr. Evil, he tells Austin he wants to give him the evidence he needs to put Dr. Evil away, as Number 2 would prefer continuing to run Virtucon as a legit company. Dr. Evil kills Number 2 and Vanessa uses the distraction to knock out Alotta Fagina but Dr. Evil gets back into his cryo chamber and blasts off in the Big Boy Rocket, activating the self destruct before he leaves. Austin, Vanessa, and their team get away and three months later, Austin and Vanessa are shown to be married. As they are enjoying their honeymoon, Basil calls them to tell them that Dr. Evil has disappeared from their scopes. After hanging up on Basil, they hear a knock on the door and Austin thinks it is the room service he ordered but it turns out to be Random Task, who attempts to kill Austin. Austin and Vanessa manage to beat him and after getting rid of him, they go out on to their balcony to look at the stars and see the Big Boy rocket flying in space, where Dr. Evil vows revenge on Austin Powers.

Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A light and goofy comedy which provides laughs, largely due to performances and screenwriting by Myers.” The America Online on Austin’s computer is version 3.0. In the commentary on the DVD, Director Jay Roach states that he did the AOL product placement to get a free year of service from them. The movie was a box office hit, earning $67.7 million off of a $16.5 million budget and would become a cultural  icon of the late 90’s/early ’00’s, and would spawn 2 sequels, with a 3rd sequel supposedly in development since 2005 but has yet to progress any further.

Maybe my taste in comedy have changed some in the last 20 years but while I still find this movie to be funny, it is not to the same degree that I once thought it was. The acting was good, with Mike Meyers doing a good job in the dual roles of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil. I also liked Elizabeth Hurley as Vanessa Kensington and thought that Robert Wagner (Number 2), Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina), and Seth Green (Scott) made for some funny scenes. The story was pretty funny, mainly spoofing James Bond but also spoofing the 60’s spy genre in general. I also liked the idea of a man being thrown out of time and forced to adapt, as it brings the story of Rip Van Winkle to new life in a way. The comedy was pretty much one sexual innuendo joke after another for the most part, with a couple of slap stick elements and some bantering to kind of even things out. It might not be as funny to everyone now but it is still one of those movies that is good for a laugh.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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)

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

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

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

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

November 10th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

star wars episode V - the empire strikes back


To this day, this remains my favorite movie out of the Star Wars franchise and I have a lot of fond memories concerning today’s movie. For one, this is the first movie I remember seeing in theaters when I was a kid. Yes, this came out back when I was 3 but I, like a lot of kids at that age, was a dinosaur nut and I thought this movie was awesome because it had robot dinosaurs that shot lasers in it (the Imperial Walkers). As fond of a memory as that is for me, my friends actually prefer a more recent memory regarding this movie. See, back when the Special Edition versions were released in theaters as a part of Star Wars 20th anniversary and I decided to take my two baby brothers to see them, so they can get a chance to see them in the theaters. So there we were, at a late night screening on opening night, enjoying the movie. All of a sudden, as the movie is nearing the end, one of the scenes featured one of the “changes” that were part of the special edition. In this case, a scream was added to the scene where Luke falls down the air shaft after learning Vader is his father (this was removed from the DVD release but you can see it here). So imagine if you will, a packed theater watching this movie and when that scene occurs, someone loudly yelling “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!” Needless to say, we were visited by an usher pretty quickly, who was going to have us leave but was nice enough to let us stay in the hallway so we could finish watching the movie. Anyways, those are some of the reasons why I love today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

The plot: Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, The Empire has pursued the Rebel forces across the galaxy and forced the Rebellion to find a new base of operations, which the eventually do on the ice planet Hoth. With Darth Vader wanting to capture Luke Skywalker, as he was the one to destroy the Death Star, he orders hundreds of Imperial probe droids to be released across the galaxy, one of which happens to land on Hoth. Luke, now a Commander in the Rebellion, is riding a tauntaun out on patrol when he sees what appears to be a meteor strike and radios in to Han Solo, who is heading back to the base from his patrol. After ending the communication, Luke’s tauntaun suddenly acts up and as he tries to calm it, they are attacked by a wampa, which knocks Luke unconscious and kills the tauntaun, then drags them back to their lair. At the Rebel base, Han reports to General Rieekan and tells him that he has to leave and pay off the death mark that Jabba the Hutt has placed on him, as he had a recent encounter with another bounty hunter. Han then goes to say goodbye to Leia but the two end up arguing when Han insinuates that she has feelings for him. Later, C-3PO and R2-D2 speak with Han, who is working with Chewbacca on making repairs to the Millennium Falcon. When 3PO tells him that Luke hasn’t come back from patrol yet, Han has some men double check and when they confirm that he hasn’t returned, he mounts a tauntaun and heads out to find him, despite being told that it is getting too cold to be out there. Meanwhile, Luke finds himself suspended from the ceiling of the wampa’s lair and, noticing his lightsaber in the snow below him, uses the force to summon it to his hand. Quickly igniting it, he frees himself and then fends off the attacking wampa, cutting off the creature’s arm, and escaping the cave as the wampa backs away in pain. At the Rebel base, all of the patrols looking for Luke have returned except for Han and they are forced to close the blast doors to shield everyone from the cold, causing Chewbacca to roar out in anguish while Leia, 3PO, and R2 express their own concern. Out in the snow, Luke sees the ghost oh Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, his old mentor, who tells him to go to Dagobah and learn from the Jedi Master Yoda, who had trained him. As Luke calls out to Ben, the ghost disappears but Han shows up and quickly races to his friend. As he checks on him, Han’s tauntaun dies from the cold so Han uses Luke’s lightsaber to slice open it’s stomach and places Luke inside to keep him warm while he works on building a shelter. The next day, Rebel Snowspeeders, finally adapted to the cold weather of the planet, search for Han and Luke and eventually find them. Luke is placed in a bacta tank in order to help recover from his injuries and afterwards, his friends express their happiness at seeing him still alive. Han again talks with Leia about her feelings for him and Leia, deciding to show Han that he is wrong, kisses Luke before leaving the room. Some time later, the Rebels detect a strange transmission on the surface and Han and Chewbacca go to investigate and discover the probe droid, which attacks them before destroying itself. Han relays the encounter to Leia and Rieekan, who realize the Empire most likely knows where they are now and they prepare to evacuate. On board the Executor, Vader’s Super Star Destroyer, Vader and his command staff receive word from the probe droid and Vader orders his men to head to off, telling General Veers to ready his men for a ground assault. The Imperial fleet comes out of hyper space too soon, allowing the Rebels to power an energy shield to protect the base from orbital bombardment so Vader kills Admiral Ozzel and promotes Captain Piett to Admiral. The Rebels prepare for a ground assault on the power generator while launching the evacuation ships for most of their forces, using an ion cannon to disable enemy ships that are preventing their escape. A force of Imperial Walkers (AT-AT’s) march on the generator and Luke commands Rogue groups Snowspeeders as they try to stop them. When their armor proves to be too thick, they use tow cables to entangle the walkers’ legs and topple them. Luke is eventually shot down but manages to survive and uses his lightsaber, grappling hook, and an explosive to take out another walker but the generator is still destroyed and Vader and his troops land to make their assault on the base. Han grabs Leia and takes her and 3PO onto the Falcon so they can escape while Luke makes it to a secondary evac site, where R2 is waiting in his X-wing fighter and they take off but instead of meeting up with the rest of the fleet, he tells R2 they are heading to Dagobah. Meanwhile, Han is trying to evade the Star Destroyers that are trying to capture them but when he tries to go to light speed, it fails and 3PO tells him that the hyperdrive is damaged. Leaving Leia to pilot the Falcon, Han and Chewbacca try to make repairs when Leia alerts them to the face that they are entering an asteroid field. Han resumes control and managed to pilot the Falcon through the asteroids, which destroy the Tie-Fighters following them, and eventually lands in a cave on a large asteroid. While this is going on, Luke arrives on Dagobah and ends up crashing his X-wing in the swamp. After getting R2 and some supplies from the ship and setting up camp, Luke is surprised to see a small figure watching them. As Luke speaks with the strange figure, it begins rummaging through his supplies and eventually grabs a small lamp, which it says is his if Luke wants it’s help. When Luke says he is looking for a Jedi Master, the creature says he is looking for Yoda and offer to take Luke to see him but says he must come back to his house for dinner first, then heads off into the swamp. Back in the asteroid field, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and 3PO work on making repairs on the Falcon, and Han and Leia end up getting closer and eventually kiss before 3PO interrupts them, causing Leia to run off to figure out her feelings. Meanwhile, Vader has the fleet continue into the asteroid field to search for the Falcon but when he gets word that the Emperor wants to speak with him, he has the Executor moved out of the field in order to ensure a clear transmission. After making contact with Vader, the Emperor tells him to destroy Luke Skywalker before he can become a Jedi but Vader suggest trying to turn Luke to the Dark Side, and the Emperor agrees when Vader says if it can’t be done he will kill him. Back on Dagobah, Luke is inside the figures hut and eventually realizes that he is Yoda after hearing him speak to Ben’s ghost. Yoda says that Luke is not ready to begin the training, seeing too much anger and recklessness in him but Ben argues for Luke’s training and Luke says he is not afraid of the training so Yoda reluctantly agrees to train him. Back in the cave on the asteroid, Leia is in the cockpit thinking about what happened with Han when she sees a strange creature attach itself to the hull. She tells Han about it, and he decides to go out and investigate, with Leia and Chewbacca accompanying him. Han shoots a mynock off of the ship and tells Leia to head back inside while he and Chewbacca check the rest of the ship when a flock of mynocks fly past them. Chewbacca fires at them and strikes the cave wall, causing the cave to shake and a roar to be heard. When Han fires into the ground, the roaring and shaking grow more severe and he quickly has every get back on the ship so they can leave, as he realizes that they are not in a cave, but a giant space worm. Back on Dagobah, Luke is beginning his training and Yoda discusses the differences between the Light and Dark Sides of the force and how Vader had fallen to the Dark Side. They eventually reach a cave, and Yoda tells Luke he must head inside. Luke starts to buckle his lightsaber to his belt and Yoda tells him he will not need his weapons, but Luke chooses to arm himself anyways. Inside the cave, Luke comes face to face with an apparition of Vader and he fights with it and manages to beat it, cutting off Vader’s head but as the head rolls to a stop by his feet, the helmet bursts open and Luke’s own face stares back at him. Back in space, Vader has summoned several bounty hunters to the Executor and gives them the task of finding the Millennium Falcon when he receives word that his men have located the ship. The Falcon makes it out of the asteroid field and attempts to go to light speed but the hyperdrive is still malfunctioning. Han then turns around and heads towards the Star Destroyer chasing them and flies past the command bridge before disappearing off of their scopes. On Dagobah, Luke’s training continues but he gets distracted when R2 alerts him to his X-wing sinking into the swamp. Yoda tells Luke to use the Force to lift the X-wing from the swamp, chastising Luke for his excuses and negative thoughts. Luke attempts to do so but fails and Yoda easily lifts it from the swamp, telling Luke that his lack of faith is what caused him to fail. Back in space, Vader has his men search every possible system that the Falcon could have flown too and the fleet starts to disperse. Meanwhile, Han had managed to use the landing claw to attach the Falcon to the back of the command bridge and as the fleet disperses, he has Chewbacca get ready to disengage the claw. Han then tries to figure out where to go to repair the Falcon and discovers that his friend Lando Calrissian is close enough for them to reach. When the Star Destroyer empties it’s trash before leaving, Han has Chewbacca release the landing claw so they can drift away with the trash and once the Star Destroyer leaves, they head towards Bespin, unaware that the bounty hunter Boba Fett, one of several bounty hunters Vader had hired to find the Falcon, is following them in his ship, Slave 1. When they arrive on Bespin, Lando greets Han and Chewbacca, then begins flirting with Leia before Han separates them. As Lando starts talking with Han and shows them to their quarters, 3PO wanders into a side corridor and sees some Stormtroopers but he is shot before he can leave. Back on Dagobah, Luke sees a vision of Han and the others in trouble and decides to abandon his training in order to go rescue them. Yoda and Ben try to stop him but he refuses to abandon his friends and as he takes off, Ben says that he is their last hope but Yoda says that there is another. On Bespin, Chewbacca finds 3PO in a junk yard and brings him back to their chambers, and Leia asks if he can repair him. Lando enters the room and invites them to dinner but they learn that he set them up when they see Vader waiting for them and Lando apologizes, explaining that the Empire had arrived before they did. Vader has Han and Leia tortured, which is what Luke saw in his vision, then tells Lando that Chewbacca and Leia must remain in Cloud City while Han will be turned over to Boba Fett, which upsets Lando. When Vader sets a trap for Luke and decides to test the carbonite freezing process on Han, Chewbacca attempts to break free, attacking several Stormtroopers in the process. Han manages to calm Chewbacca down and tells him he needs to watch after Leia. He then kisses Leia, who tells him that she loves him and he responds, “I know” before he is frozen. Lando checks and says that Han survived so Vader orders the machine reset for Luke then tells Lando to have Leia and Chewbacca (along with 3PO) taken aboard his ship. Luke arrives at Cloud City and as he makes his way through the area, sees Boba Fett carrying the frozen Han towards his ship but Boba Fett spots Luke and fires at him, keeping him from following. Luke then encounters the group with Leia and Chewbacca and Leia tries to warn him it is a trap before she is carried away. As they continue moving, Lando secretly summons his assistant Lobot and his guards, who hold the Imperials captive while he frees Leia and Chewbacca. Chewbacca attacks Lando but stops when Lando says they have a chance to save Han. They head off to stop Boba Fett, joined by R2 who had been separated from Luke, and reach the dock just as Slave 1 blasts off, then are forced to run as they are attacked by some more Stormtroopers. Meanwhile, Luke reaches the carbonite chamber and encounters Vader and the two fight, with Vader managing to knock Luke into the chamber but Luke is able to jump out before the chamber is activated. Luke continues the attack on Vader and manages to knock him off the platform. Luke follows after him and continues the attack but Vader uses the Force to start flinging object at Luke, eventually breaking a window and the decompression blows Luke through the window into the central air shaft but when Vader looks out the window, he sees Luke survived and landed on a platform some ways below. Lando and the others head towards the Falcon, with Lando issuing an evacuation order to the citizens of Cloud City. When Lando’s security codes have been changed, R2 plugs into a computer terminal to open the door, learning the status of the Falcon’s hyperdrive in the process, and they quickly board the ship and take off. Back in the air shaft. Vader renews the fight with Luke and Luke manages to wound Vader on his arm, which enrages Vader and he retaliates by cutting off Luke’s hand. As Luke backs away in pain, Vader tries to convince Luke to join the Dark Side but Luke refuses to join Vader, saying Vader killed his father and Vader tells Luke that he is Luke’s father. Luke doesn’t want to believe him and as Vader reaches for him, he chooses to drop down the air shaft, eventually following into a side chamber before being dropped outside of the city, where he is left hanging from a communication antennae. Luke reaches out to Leia through the Force and she has Chewbacca turn around so they can rescue Luke. After Lando rescues Luke and brings him on board, they leave Cloud City and head out into space. Leia tends to Luke’s injuries while Lando and Chewbacca pilot the Falcon but as they prepare to go to light speed, they find that it is not working. Chewbacca roars out in frustration and heads back to repair it while Lando pleads his innocence in the matter. As the Executor’s tractor beams prepare to bring the Falcon on board, Vader reaches out to Luke through the Force and Luke asks Ben why he didn’t tell him the truth. Before they are captured by Vader, R2 reactivates the hyperdrive and they safely escape. After rejoining the Rebel fleet, Luke is being fitted with a cybernetic hand and he and Leia talk with Lando and Chewbacca, who are heading off to try and locate Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt, with Luke saying they will meet on Tatooine after they do so. With the hand in working order, Luke goes to stand by Leia as they watch the Falcon take off to find their friend.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back met with slightly higher praise from the critics than it’s predecessor, earning a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New HopeThe Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.” In order to avoid sharing creative rights, George Lucas decided not to go through a major Hollywood studio to finance the movie. Lucas bankrolled the movie himself using profits from the first movie as well as a bank loan, a risky move that worked out for Lucas as he made the money back 3 months after the films release. While not as successful as the previous movie, the movie was still a box office hit, earning $538.4 million off of an $18 million budget and though Lucas initially thought it was the worst movie in the series, he changed his mind when many people said they felt it was the best one.

Like I said before, this is my favorite movie in the series and I love watching it every time. The acting was really good, with Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (Leia), and Harrison Ford (Han) doing great jobs returning to their characters. I also liked that they played up the romantic triangle between the three of them, with Leia kissing Luke early one, which makes Han jealous, but then kissing Han and admitting her feelings towards him later on. I also liked Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and loved Frank Oz as Yoda, though I admit that I kept picturing Grover saying those words every time I hear Yoda talk (since Oz voiced both characters). The story was great and did a good job of further developing the main characters without taking too much time away from the main story. The one difference with this movie, and to be honest it was pretty much unavoidable, was that this wasn’t exactly a stand alone movie like the original movie was but ended as a complete set-up for a third installment. The special effects were just as good as the original and did a great job of accenting the plot without overshadowing it like some other sci-fi movies in recent years (*cough* Transformers *cough*). A great movie that does a good job in continuing the story George Lucas started.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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November 9th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

star wars episode IV - a new hope

Whoever could have imagined that a movie that came out 40 years ago would have such a massive impact, not just on movies in general, but pop culture as well. Certainly not the director, as George Lucas felt sure that the movie would be a flop. Never-the-less, this is the movie that would start an empire. Supposedly, I saw this when it was in theaters, though since it came out 5 days before I was born, I’m guessing it was when it was re-released the next year. Either way, the first time I remember seeing it was after I had seen The Empire Strikes Back in theaters (which I definitely remember seeing) and immediately enjoying it. Since then, I was hooked, as I remember getting dozens of the toys and action figures as a kid, then buying the books, comics, and video games later in life. I have probably given George Lucas hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars over the years and don’t regret a single bit of it. I had copies of the original trilogy on VHS and wanted to upgrade them to DVD but the only version released was the Special Edition versions that came out in 1997. I kept waiting and waiting for the original theatrical versions to be released and finally, a 2-disk set came out that had the original version of the film, albeit from the 1993 LaserDisc release, but it was probably the best I would get to owning the theatrical versions so I happily bought them up. Now let’s sit back and watch an adventure in a galaxy far, far away in today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

The plot: During a period of galactic war, Rebel spies have managed to steal plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. As the Rebel ship makes it’s way back to the Rebel base, they are pursued by an Imperial Star Destroyer, which eventually disables their ship. As the Rebel soldiers prepare to repel boarders, C-3PO, a protocol droid, and his astromech counterpart R2-D2, find themselves caught in the crossfire and quickly make their escape. 3PO loses sight of R2 momentarily but soon finds him with Princess Leia, who gives R2 something and sends him away. As Darth Vader boards the ship and begins to interrogate the prisoners, R2 and 3PO board an escape pod and R2 jettisons it, where it heads towards the nearby planet of Tatooine. Meanwhile, Leia is captured by some Stormtroopers and taken to Vader, who doesn’t believe her claim of being on a diplomatic mission and, after hearing that an escape pod had been jetisoned during the fight, sends a squad down to see if the plans were inside while he takes Leia to the Death Star for interrogation. On Tatooine, 3PO and R2 get into an argument when R2 says he has a mission to perform and they end up going their separate ways but they both end up being captured by Jawas, a species of desert scavengers, and taken aboard their massive Sandcrawler. Fitted with restraining bolts, 3PO and R2, along with several other droids, are taken outside to be displayed for sale. Owen Lars, a moisture farmer, buys 3PO and another droid, R5-D4, but when R5 malfunctions, he takes R2 instead and has his nephew Luke Skywalker clean them up. As Luke is cleaning them, he finds a hidden message in R2 memory banks from Princess Leia, asking someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi for help. Luke wonders if the Leia is talking about Old Ben Kenobi, a hermit that lives out in the desert, and tries to replay all of the message. 3PO tells him that R2 says the restraining bolt might be interfering with his playing all of the message so Luke removes the bolt but the message disappears and R2 says that his memory banks are malfunctioning. Lukemis called away to dinner and he talks with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru about the droids and the message but Owen tells him to ignore it and have the droids memory erased. Luke then mentions about his signing up for the academy and Owen tells him to wait till after the harvest, which disappoints Luke and he leaves the room. After he leaves, Beru tells Owen he can’t keep Luke here forever as he is too much like his father, and Owen tells her that is what worries him. Luke returns to the maintenance pod and finds 3PO hiding behind some crates and R2 has run off. The next morning, Luke and 3PO go looking for R2 and eventually find him but R2’s scanners detect some creatures approaching. Realizing that they might be Tusken Raiders, commonly referred to as Sand People, Luke goes to investigate and sees some Banthas, a large creature the Sand People ride, and a lone raider when he is attacked and knocked unconscious by another raider. The raider drags the unconscious Luke to his airspeeder, where some other raiders are preparing to loot it when they are startled by a loud noise and an approaching figure waving his arms, causing them to quickly flee. The figure bends over to check on Luke and, sensing R2 watching him, motions him to come forward. Luke regains consciousness and, after recognizing Ben, tells him about the droid. Ben admits that he is Obi-Wan but doesn’t recall ever owning a droid and as they hear more raiders approaching, they quickly gather 3PO and head to Obi-Wan’s house. As Luke works on repairing 3PO, he learns that his father had served with Obi-Wan during the Clone Wars, and then gives Luke his father’s lightsaber, the weapon of the Jedi Knights. Luke, who has no knowledge of his father, asks Obi-Wan how he died and Obi-Wan tells him that a former pupil of his, Darth Vader, killed him. They then play the entire message and Obi-Wan asks Luke to accompany him to Alderraan but Luke says he can’t go as he has too much work to do here but offers to take him to Anchorhead so Obi-Wan can head to one of the space ports. Meanwhile, Vader’s Star Destroyer arrives at the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station, and accompanies Grand Moff Tarkin to a meeting of several high ranking officers, where Tarkin informs them that the Emperor has abolished the Senate and that the regional governors will now control their sectors of the Empire. Back on Tatooine, Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids find the remains of the Jawas’ Sandcrawler and when Obi-Wan says that Stormtroopers did this, Luke realizes that they could have traced the droids back to his home and he races back there only to find it destroyed and his Aunt and Uncle have been reduced to skeletons. Luke returns to Obi-Wan and the others and tells him that he will go with him and asks him to teach him the ways of the force so he can become a Jedi like his father. They travel to Mos Eisley, where Obi-Wan uses the force to convince a Stormtrooper patrol to let them pass, and head into the cantina. Inside, Obi-Wan and Luke meet with Han Solo and his Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca and they bargain for passage on his ship, the Millennium Falcon. As Chewbacca leaves to get the ship ready, Han is confronted by a bounty hunter named Greedo, who is there to collect the bounty that Jabba the Hutt placed on Han, but Han manages to shoot him first and quickly leaves. Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids meet up with Han and Chewbacca and board the Falcon but an Imperial spy followed them and alerts some Stormtroopers and tries to stop them from leaving but they manage to take off, then avoid a pair of Star Destroyers before making the jump to light speed. Meanwhile, Leia has proven able to resist the mind probes so Tarkin has the Death Star head to Alderraan, then threatens to blow it up unless Leia reveals the location of the Rebel base. Left with no choice, Leia tells him that the base is on Dantooine but Tarkin goes ahead and has the Death Star destroy Alderraan, as a show of force to dissuade other planets from joining the Rebellion. As they travel through hyper space, Obi-Wan feels the destruction of Alderraan but doesn’t know exactly what it was and tells Luke to continue his training with the lightsaber. When they reach Alderraan, the come out of hyper space only to find the planet is gone and nothing but planetary debris in the area. When an Imperial Tie-Fighter flies by them, they follow it and end up being captured by the Death Star’s tractor beams and brought inside the station. The group hide in Han’s smuggling compartments to avoid being detected and after the majority of soldiers leave the hangar, they knock out the scanning crew and it’s guards. Han and Luke then don the Stormtrooper armor as disguises and they take over the control room. R2 heads over to the computer and locates the tractor beam control console and Obi-Wan makes his way their to power it down so they can escape. After he leaves, R2 says that he found Leia on the station and Luke convinces Han and Chewbacca to help him rescue her, leaving 3PO and R2 in the control room. Pretending that Chewbacca is their prisoner, Luke and Han escort him to the detention and, under the cover of Chewbacca’s escaping, manage to shoot all of the guards and cameras. Han heads to the control panel and tries stalling the Imperial reinforcements while Luke goes to get Leia out of her cell. Meanwhile, Vader senses the presence of Obi-Wan and tells Tarkin, who finds it impossible to believe that he is still alive. When they receive word of the disturbance in the detention center, Tarkin orders his men to stop them while Vader goes to confront his old master. Inside the detention center, Stormtroopers blast through the door, cutting off their escape so Luke radios 3PO but they are unable to help them as Imperial troops are attempting to get into the control room. Finding themselves trapped, Leia grabs Luke’s gun and blast the hatch off the garbage chute and jumps down into it, followed by Chewbacca, Luke, and Han. As they try to figure out how to get out of there, they hear a strange roar and Luke is suddenly grabbed by a tentacle and dragged under the trash-filled water. He briefly surfaces and Leia and Han try to help him but is dragged back under when a clanking sound is heard and Luke surfaces, saying the creature just disappeared. Suddenly, the walls start moving towards each other and as Han tries to brace them with debris, Luke tries calling 3PO for help but gets no response. In the control room, Stormtroopers open the door and find 3PO and R2 trapped in a closet, claiming that the intruders locked them in there. After 3PO points them in the direction of the prison, he convinces the guard to let him take R2 to maintenance for servicing, then they duck into a corridor on the landing dock and contact Luke, who tells him to shut down the garbage chutes on the detention level. Obi-Wan makes it to the tractor beam power center and lowers the power to the tractor beams, then heads back to the Falcoln, using the Force to distract some troopers who are in the area. Meanwhile, Han and the others exit the garbage chute and head towards the Falcon but when they run into some Stormtroopers, Han fires at them and starts chasing them, with Chewbacca following behind him, leaving Luke and Leia to make it to the Falcon on their own. As the two pairs head to the Falcon, Obi-Wan encounters Vader and the two begin dueling with their lightsabers. As their fight takes them close to the hangar, it attracts the attention of the guards, leaving Luke and the others free to head to the Falcon. As they are getting on board, Luke sees the fight and Obi-Wan notices him, then allows Vader to strike him with his lightsaber, causing him to disappear leaving only his lightsaber and his robe behind. Luke cries out and starts shooting at the Stormtroopers when he hears Obi-Wan’s voice telling him to run and he quickly boards the Falcon so they can leave. As Luke grieves over Obi-Wan’s help, Han has him help man the Falcon’s quad cannons so they can take out the Tie Fighters that are chasing after them. The Falcon makes the jump to Hyper Space but unknown to them, Tarkin and Vader had a homing beacon placed on the ship so they could follow them to the Rebel base. As they head to the Rebel base, Han and Leia get into an argument over his helping only for a reward and Han later messes with Luke’s obvious attraction for Leia by asking if he thinks she would go for a guy like him (Han). The Falcon reaches the Rebel base on Yavin 4 and they analyze the plans that were inside R2 to discover the weakness to the Death Star; an exhaust port that leads to the main reactor. A briefing is held to explain the battle plan, as they know the Death Star is on it’s way to Yavin and Luke joins up to fly into battle. Before he leaves, he tries to convince Han to stay and help but Han tells him that he has to pay off some debts and asks Luke to come with him but they admit they have their own paths to follow and wish each other luck. The Rebel fighter groups take off in their X-Wings and Y-Wings and approach the Death Star, taking fire from the turrents that are on the surface of the station. When the turrents have little effect hitting the smaller fighters, Tarkin has Tie Fighters released to combat then while Vader heads out in his own personal fighter with two fighters serving as his guards. Gold group heads into the trench to make a run on the target but they are attacked and killed by Vader and his group. Red leader and two members of Red group head down into the trench to make their attack run, telling Luke that he will make the next run with Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter. Red Leader loses his cover ships but manages to make the shot only for it to miss the exhaust port. Red Leader orders Luke to make his run right before he is killed so Luke heads down into the trench, with Wedge and Biggs staying behind to cover him. Wedge’s X-Wing is damaged and he is forced to leave the trench while Biggs is killed. Luke begins to target the exhaust port but he hears Obi-Wan’s voice telling him to use the Force so he turns it off, causing the Rebel base to be concerned. Vader fires on Luke and manages to hit R2, damaging him, but before Vader can destroy Luke’s X-Wing, Han and Chewbacca arrive in the Falcon, destorying one of Vader’s flanking ships while causing the other to crash into Vader, destroying it and sending Vader careening into space. Just as the Death star gets into range to fire at Yavin, Luke takes his shot and the proton torpedoes go in the exhaust port, destroying the reactor and causing the Death Star to explode. As the surviving fighter return to Yavin, Leia is there to greet the triumphant Luke, Han, and Chewbacca as the Rebel forces all cheer their victory while 3PO worries about the damaged R2 and begs that he be repaired. Some time later, an awards ceremony is held with Leia giving Luke, Han, and Chewbacca medals, while 3PO and a repaired R2 cheer from the side.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope was highly praised by the critics,receiving a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster film making and things have never been the same.” The Krayt Dragon skeleton that C-3P0 walks by in the desert was left in the Tunisian desert when filming was finished and when Attack Of The Clones was filming, the film crew went to the site and discovered it was still there. While Lucas was filming in Tunisia, the Libyan government was concerned about the massive military vehicle parked outside their border, so the Tunisian government asked Lucas to move the Sandcrawler further in country and away from the border. Contrary to Lucas’ belief, the movie was a massive box office hit, earning $775.4 million off of an $11 million budget, surpassing Jaws as the highest grossing film of all time and, when adjusted for inflation, is the third highest grossing film in the world. The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning 7 of them, and was one of the first films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry while the soundtrack was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry in 2004.

No two ways about it, I love this movie. The acting was great, with Mark Hamill (Luke), Alec Guinness (Kenobi), Harrison Ford (Han), and Carrie Fisher (Leia) were all fantastic in their roles and the chemistry between them was great. I also liked Peter Cushing as Tarkin, who made for a great bad guy though almost everything I have seen him in since he has played the good guy. The story was fantastic, bringing a sword and sorcery element to a sci-fi movie the likes of which I don’t recall seeing before. While Luke probably had the most character growth throughout the movie, I thought it was good that they also showed more depth with Han and Leia, instead of making them simply two dimensional characters. At the time, the special effects in this movie were incredible and, while dated, still hold up to quite a degree and are part of the reason this movie became the hit that it was. Without a doubt, an iconic movie that everyone should see.

Rating: 5 out of 5