comedy, drama, fantasy, movie, movie review

November 30th, 2017 Movie – Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

stranger than fiction

It’s the last day of the month and it has already started off on an odd note. It started with what sound like someone screaming outside (which I actually had to pause the movie to try and figure out what I heard) and continued about an hour later with a pretty brief, but intense, sudden bout of rain. This has me wondering what else is in store for me today. Anyways, today’s movie was one that actually caught my interest when I saw the trailers for it. I didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters but rented it when it came out on video and liked it enough to buy a copy shortly afterwards. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Stranger Than Fiction (2006).

The plot: Harold Crick is a single man whose life is controlled by numbers; from the specific number of times he brushed his teeth, to the number of steps he took to the bus. Harold, a senior agent for the I.R.S., lives a rather lonely life, only taking a 45 minute lunch break and a 5 minute coffee break, which he times with his wristwatch, before going home, eating, and going to bed at the exact same time every day. One Wednesday, Harold hears a voice narrating his everyday life, which confuses him and causes some of his co-workers to become concerned about him. Harold is given the file for a banker named Ana Pascal, who has come under audit for not paying all of her taxes. As they talk, the voice continues narrating some of Harold’s thoughts, prompting Ana to comment on his staring at her. Harold denies it and leaves, telling Ana he will be back later to go over her past returns and heads outside, where he begins yelling at the voice to shut up. Meanwhile, novelist Karen Eiffel is standing on her desk wondering what it would be like to jump off a building when she is surprised by the arrival of her new assistant, Penny Escher. Karen is annoyed at Penny’s arrival, feeling like she is nothing more than a spy from the publishers as she is having a bout of writer’s block in finishing her book, but Penny tells her that she is there simply to help make sure that Karen finishes her latest book on time and will help her figure out how to kill Harold Crick. Back at the I.R.S., Harold is sent to HR, where the HR manager says some of his coworkers are getting concerned about him and suggests Harold take a vacation. As Harold leaves work that day, his watch suddenly starts acting up and Harold thinks it is just on the fritz, not realizing that it was trying to tell him that Ana was walking across the street. When his watch stops, Harold asks someone for the time so he can reset it and as he does, the voice tells him that his action will lead to his death. When Harold hears this, he starts questioning what is going on and tears apart his apartment, trying to get the voice to explain how or why he is going to die. Harold goes to see a psychiatrist, who believes he is suffering from schizophrenia, but when Harold swears he isn’t and says it feels like he is a character in a story, she suggest he speak to someone who knows literature. Harold goes to see Professor Jules Hilbert, a literary professor, and speaks to him about what is happening and Hilbert says he can’t help him but when Harold repeats verbatim what the voice said, Hilbert becomes intrigued at it’s usage of “Little did he know” and asks Harold to meet him the next day. As Harold is on the bus, the voice alerts him to Ana boarding and he attempts to talk to her, offering an apology for staring at her the other day. Ana accepts the apology and the two engage in some small talk but Harold, listening to the voice, decides to quit before he makes an ass of himself and gets off the bus, not realizing that he is 27 blocks from where he wanted to go. Harold meets up with Hilbert and Hilbert tries to figure out what kind of story Harold’s life is becoming, whether it is a comedy or a tragedy. Meanwhile, Karen and Penny are sitting in the rain, as Karen is trying to get an idea about a car crash during bad weather. Harold heads back to the bakery to begin Ana’s audit, and she shows him that she threw all her files and receipts into a box just to mess with him. After working through the day, Harold goes to leave but Ana convinces him to sit down and eat a cookie she just finished baking. As they sit and eat cookies, Harold asks her how she became a baker and she explains that she was in Harvard Law and would always bake things during her study sessions and at the end of the semester, she had a lot of great recipes and a D average so she decided to drop out and continue baking. As Harold goes to leave, she boxes up the rest of the cookies for him to take home but he refuses, saying that they could constitute a bribe. Ana gets offended and throws the cookies away and as he leaves, Harold apologizes, realizing that she had baked them for him to be nice and apologize for how she treated him during the day. At Hilbert’s suggestion, Harold decides to call out of work the next day and do absolutely nothing but as he is watching TV, his apartment is partially demolished due to a mixup from the construction crew, mistaking it for an abandoned building. Harold goes to see Hilbert, who tells Harold that he is not in control of his own destiny and he should just live his life. Harold goes to stay at his friend Dave’s place and asks him what he always wanted to do and Dave admits he wanted to go to space camp but never did. Harold, who always wanted to play the guitar, decides to go buy one and as the voice narrates the various choices, he finally picks one. As he goes to bed, his wristwatch highlights Ana’s name and he decides to go and apologize for his actions. Harold catches up to her as she closes her bakery, bring her some flours (the baking kind) as an apology, and says he knows he has been acting weird but admits that he wants her. Ana invites him back to her place and as the talk some, he notices her guitar and starts playing the song he learned, and after sitting next to him and listening for a bit, she promptly starts kissing him and they end up having sex. As he lies in bed with Ana, the voice tells him that she is falling love with him, prompting Harold to smile. Harold goes to see Hilbert and tells him he thinks he is in a comedy and Hilbert, who had been coming up with a list of authors who might be writing his story, says that that changes things. As Hilbert starts thinking of different authors, Harold hears the narrators voice coming from the TV and realizes that it is Karen Eiffel. When he tells Hilbert that she is the narrator, Hilbert apologizes, saying that she wasn’t on his list but also that all of her main characters die. Harold tries to get Karen’s contact information from the publisher and when that fails, he uses her tax records to find her phone number. As Harold tries calling her, Karen is writing that exact sequence, shocked when the phone rings each time she types it. After it occurs the third time, she answers the phone and is shocked to hear Harold talking to her. Harold goes to meet Karen, who is shocked that he looks exactly like she described him in her book. Harold pleads with her not to kill him and she admits that she already wrote the outline for her books ending but hasn’t typed it yet and when Harold argues with her about it, Penny suggests that she let him read it so Karen gives him her hand written copy of the book to read. Harold takes it to Hilbert and explains what happened and hands him the manuscript, saying he couldn’t bring himself to read it and asks that he do it. Hilbert reads it and tells Harold that he has to die, as this is probably Karen’s masterpiece. Meanwhile, Karen is wondering if all of the other characters in her books were actual people just like Harold before she killed them but Penny argues that they were not real. Harold takes the manuscript and reads it while riding on the bus and he goes to see Karen and tells her that he loved the book and she should finish it. Harold goes about his last day, spending the evening with Ana and the next morning, he wakes up and heads to work, not realizing that when he reset his watch, he had set it 3 minutes fast. As he waits for the bus, a little boy riding his bike falls in the street  right in front of the oncoming bus and Harold jumps out to push the boy to safety, getting struck by the bus himself while in her office, Karen cries out over what she had just written, knowing that she had just killed Harold. Harold comes too and finds that he had been severely injured but alive, as a piece of his watch had broken off and blocked an artery in his arm, keeping him from bleeding out. As Ana comes to visit him and he explains what happened, Karen goes to see Hilbert and shows him the finished work. Hilbert reads it and says that it is ok and asks why she changed it and she admits she couldn’t bring herself to kill Harold after having met her. When he tells her that the book felt weaker without Harold’s death, she tells him that the story was about a man unexpectedly dying and Harold sacrificing himself to save the boy would not have worked so she chose the wristwatch, which she had anthropomorphized throughout the book, was the one to die instead.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A fun, whimsical tale about an office drone trying to save his life from his narrator, Stranger Than Fiction features a subdued performances from Will Ferrell that contributes mightily to its quirky, mind-bending affect.” During filming, Will Ferrell wore an earpiece that fed him Emma Thompson’s narrative lines, allowing the other actors to react more naturally to Will’s seemingly non-sequitur lines. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $53.7 million off of a $30 million budget.

This was a surprisingly good movie. The acting was good, with Will Ferrell (Harold) doing a surprisingly good job in a more dramatic role than people are used to seeing out of him. Emma Thompson also did a great job as Karen, especially during the scenes after she meets Harold as she really showcased the anguish she was feeling as she struggles with the choice of whether finishing her book is worth killing someone. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Ana) and Dustin Hoffman (Hilbert) were also really good in their performances. The story was very well written, which is fitting since the basis of the movie is about a book. I liked that good mix between drama and comedy that was in the movie, as well as the premise that sometimes you have no control over your life and it feels like you are simply a character in someone else’s story, a feeling that a lot of people have at one point or another. A good movie that is definitely worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review

November 20th, 2017 Movie – Wonder Woman (2017)

wonder woman 2017

Finally, DC managed to put out a good entry in their “DCEU” series. Now when I first saw Diana Prince make her appearance in Batman V Superman, I knew that a solo movie would be coming relatively soon, which was a big concern. See, solo female superhero movies have never really worked out well in live-action form, with Catwoman and Elektra being two of the more recent less than stellar attempts. However, the initial trailer that was shown looked amazing so I ended up getting my hopes up that finally, things would be different. Boy was I surprised when I went to see it in theaters and I decided to pre-order Wonder Woman (2017) as soon as it came out on video so I could enjoy it again and again.

The plot: In the present day, Diana Prince arrives for work at the Louvre in Paris, where she receives a suitcase from Wayne Enterprises. When she opens it, she finds an framed, old photograph of herself and 4 soldiers during World War 1, with a note from Bruce saying he had found the original photo and that he would love to hear the story one day. Diana thinks back to her childhood on the island of Themyscira. Diana is eager to begin training for war like the rest of the Amazons but her mother, Queen Hippolyta, refuses to allow her to train. Hippolyta tells Diana the history of the Amazons, how Zeus had created them to restore peace and protect mankind from the evils inflicted by Ares. As Hippolyta led a crusade to end the wars of man, the gods rebelled against Ares so Ares killed all of them except for Zeus, who was able to strike down Ares, then created Themyscira to hide the Amazons and the weapon he created which could kill a god. Diana sneaks off to train with her aunt Antiope and when Hippolyta eventually catches them, she sends Diana away before arguing with Antiope. Antiope argues that Ares is still alive and Diana needs to be prepared to battle him and Hippolyta reluctantly agrees, telling Antiope to train Diana harder than any Amazon before her. As the years pass, Diana has become a young woman and continues training, defeating the strongest Amazons in combat. As she spars with Antiope, Diana gets the upper hand but when she turns to seek Hippolyta’s approval, Antiope knocks her down and presses the attack, lecturing Diana that war isn’t fair, when Diana slams her bracelets together, causing a shockwave that sends Antiope flying. As some Amazons tend to Antiope, Hippolyta worries about what she has done while Diana apologizes, then runs off after seeing the looks on the other Amazons faces. Heading to a cliff to think about what happened, she sees a damaged airplane piercing the mystic veil protecting Themyscira and crashing into the ocean. Diana dives into the water and rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor, and carries him to shore, unaware that German troops were searching the area for his plane and also discover the island. As the Germans approach the island, Hippolyta and the other Amazons attack them as they land on the beach. Steve and Diana join the battle but Diana, fighting her first real battle, gets distracted by seeing her fellow Amazons dying and is almost shot herself but Antiope leaps in front of her and takes the bullet herself. Grieving over her sisters death, Hippolyta prepares to kill Steve but Diana jumps in front of him, saying that he fought at her side. When Steve refuses to answer, he is brought into the city and tied up with the Lasso of Hestia, which compels him to tell the truth. Steve tells them that he is an American spy working with British Intelligence and had been undercover at a German war factory, where General Erich Ludendorff and his chief chemist, Dr. Isabel Maru, are working on developing a new mustard gas that can eat through Allied gas masks. Steve stole Maru’s notebook and managed to escape the factory, bombing it on his way out, and was attempting to make it back to Allied headquarters but was shot down in the attempt. Diana argues that they should go fight in this war, as it surely means that Ares has returned, but Hippolyta refuses to allow it. After talking some more with Steve, Diana decides to help him leave the island, sneaking into the armory and taking the Lasso and the “Godkiller” sword as well as her armor. Diana leads Steve to a dock where a ship is ready to sail but before they leave, Hippolyta and her guards arrive. Diana approaches Hippolyta and says she has to go and Hippolyta says she knows and allows Diana to leave but as they watch the boat sail away, one of her guards asks Hippolyta if she should have told Diana the truth but Hippolyta says that the more Diana knows, the faster Ares will find her. Meanwhile, Ludendorff and Maru have survived the bombing and set up a new factory to manufacture their weapons but Maru is still not having any luck without her notebook. She gives Ludendorff some gas capsules, which increases his strength, and as he recovers from the effects of the gas, she finds some crumpled notes and realizes she might have the answer to their problems. Diana and Steve arrive in London and Diana wants to head straight to the war but Steve convinces her to let him get the notebook to his superiors first. Steve takes Diana to get some more modern clothes so she can blend in but as they head to the war council, they are attacked by German spies and Diana is able to quickly defeat them. Reaching the council, they listen as Sir Patrick Morgan attempts to discuss negotiating armistice with Germany. After handing over the notebook, the generals try to interpret the book and Diana recognizes the languages the book is written in and is asked to translate it. When she tells them of the new mustard gas Maru is working on, Steve tries to convince the generals that they need to send a team in to take out Maru but they refuse. Diana argues with the generals before Steve drags her out of the room and tells her he will take her to the front, despite being ordered not to go. Steve and Diana head to a nearby bar, where they recruit Steve’s mercenary friends Sameer and Charlie, and Sir Patrick arrives to wish them luck on their mission into Belgium. Meanwhile, Ludendorff arrives at a council meeting, where the other generals are discussing the upcoming armistice. Ludendorff says that he can still win the war but the other generals overrule him and say they plan on telling the kaiser to sign the armistice so Ludendorff has Maru throw a gas grenade in the room, then Ludendorff locks the generals inside with the gas to be killed. When Diana and the others arrive in Belgium, Diana is saddened by the sight of all the injured she sees but Steve tells her they have to keep moving so they continue moving forward. The eventually meet up with Chief, a smuggler who supplies items to both sides of the war, and they make camp for the night. The next day, they arrive at No Man’s Land and when she hears what has happened to the nearby village of Veld, Diana decides to help the villagers. Heading up out of the trenches, Diana makes her way towards the German line and Steve and the others, inspired by her bravery, follow after them. They are soon able to take out the German soldiers in the trenches and make their way into the village, taking out all of the soldiers there and liberating the people. After posing for a photo, Steve makes contact with his secretary, who tells him that Ludendorff is hosting a gala close by to the village but Sir Patrick tells him not to go to the gala, as it will disrupt the armistice treaty. That night, the villagers celebrate their newly won freedom while Steve and Diana dance and end up getting closer to each other. The next day, they head to the gala and Steve tells Diana not to go inside before he heads there in disguise with Sameer, but Diana steals a woman’s dress and makes her way in. At the gala, Steve begins speaking with Maru and attempts to persuade her to work with him but he gets distracted when he sees Diana enter the room. Diana makes her way to Ludendorff, whom she believes to be Ares, and the two discuss the war and the Greek gods while they dance before Ludendorff takes his leave. Diana moves to kill him but Steve stops her and argues that it won’t help them find the gas and tells her she might be wrong. As the two head outside, they see Ludendorff ordering cannons to fire at the village and Diana rushes back to the village and Steve follows her, telling Chief and the others to trail Ludendorff. When she reaches the village, Diana finds everyone inside dead and she blames Steve for their deaths, believing his preventing her from killing Ludendorff allowed this to happen. Steve sees some nearby smoke and tells her to follow it, as it is Chief and the others telling them where Ludendorff went. Diana heads out and finds Ludendorff at a nearby airfield, where the gas is being loaded onto a bomber heading for London. Diana starts fighting Ludendorff and eventually kills him but is shocked to discover that the Germans are still loading the bombs onto the plane. Steve arrives and tries to convince Diana to help him stop the Germans from using the gas again but Diana is too confused by what is going on and wonders if mankind is even worth saving, so Steve and the others head out on their own. Suddenly, Diana sees Sir Patrick appear and realizes he is Ares and goes to confront him but when she attempts to stab him, the Godkiller sword is destroyed. Diana looks on in horror and Ares tells her that she, not the sword, is the Godkiller, being the last child of Zeus that he left behind to be used as a weapon against him. Ares attempts to convince Diana to join him but she refuses so he begins attacking her. Steve and the others discover the gas being loaded onto the plane and make plans to disable the plane when they see Diana and Ares fighting. Maru orders the plane to take off and Steve comes up with a plan, telling the others to clear him a path to the plane. When Diana is knocked back by an explosion, Steve goes up to her and starts talking to her, though she can barely hear him as her ears are still ringing from the blast, and he hands her his father’s watch before running and getting on the plane. After knocking out the pilot, Steve pilots the plane as high as it can before setting off the explosives, sacrificing himself in order to destroy the gas in the explosion. Diana, who had been trapped by Ares, sees the explosion and cries out in grief over Steve’s death, enabling her to access more of her power, which she uses to attack the Germans attempting to kill Chief, Charlie, and Sameer. Ares tells her to use her powers to help him kill mankind, offering up Maru for Diana to kill. However, Diana thinks back to what Steve was telling her before he got on the plane and how he loved her, and realized that despite the evils some men may show, there is good in mankind. Ares attempts to attack her again, using lightning this time, but Diana is able to absorb the lightning with her bracelets and uses it to kill Ares and the soldiers end up laying down their arms. Back in London, Diana and the others see a memorial to various soldiers that died in the war and Diana touches Steve’s picture on the memorial before turning and walking away. Back in the present, Diana places the picture back in the suitcase, along with Steve’s watch which she still had, then sends Bruce an email thanking him for the picture before hearing sirens in the distance and, donning her armor, heads out to save mankind once again.

Wonder Woman was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot’s charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.” Gal Gadot was 5 months pregnant when she had to do reshoots for the film so the crew made a costume that included a green screen around her belly, which they removed during post production. The movie was a box office hit, earning $821.8 million off of a $149 million budget, and set several box office records; including being the highest grossing live action film directed by a woman and the highest grossing super-hero movie with a female lead.

There were a few flaws, but this was a great movie and worth the praise people were giving it. The acting was really good, with Gal Gadot doing an amazing job as Diana, while Chris Pine (Steve), David Thewlis (Ares) and Danny Huston (Ludendorff) were equally good. I also thought that Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta) and Robin Wright (Antiope) were fantastic as Amazons (seriously, Buttercup became a real bad-ass) while Said Taghmaoui and Ewen Bremner made for some pretty good comedy as Sameer and Charlie, while Eugene Brave Rock (Chief) did a good job being the straight man for them. The plot was one of the better origin style movies to come out in recent years. Yes, I know that in the comics, Wonder Woman appeared pre-World War 2, not World War 1, but I think the different setting helped set it apart a little more (and might have also helped keep some of the regular movie-goers from trying to compare it to Captain America: The First Avenger. On a side note, I literally LOLed during the scene where Diana is eating ice cream for the first time, as that was almost identical to a scene in the animated movie, Justice League: War. The special effects were really good, with the battle in No Man’s Land being exceptionally well done and choreographed, as was the Amazon’s battle against the Germans. The only mild drawback for me was the final battle between Diana and Ares, as it felt like the went a little too overboard on the special effects during parts of the battle, when a “less is more” approach might have been better. All in all, DC finally got their act together and made a good live-action movie. Hopefully, they can keep this up.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

Star Wars Trailer

 

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

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

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

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

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

star wars episode VI - return of the jedi

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

star wars episode III - revenge of the sith

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

star wars the clone wars

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 out of 5

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November 12th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones

star wars episode II - attack of the clones

Ok, so we have the next entry in the prequel trilogy and the only thing I was honestly excited about regarding it was the introduction of Jango Fett. I honestly felt it was a little bit poetic that Boba Fett was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, the second movie in the original trilogy, and now we get to see his father in this movie. While that was my main reason in this movie, I will admit that finally seeing the Clone Wars, which was mentioned was back in the original Star Wars. So let’s see how this story progresses as I watch today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones.

The plot: Ten years after the Trade Federation’s blockade of Naboo, thousands of systems are considering leaving the Republic, with a former Jedi named Count Dooku leading this Separatist Movement. Padme Amidala, the former queen of Naboo now turned Senator, arrives on Coruscant for an important vote when an attack occurs when her ship lands, but the attack kills her decoy instead. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is meeting with several members of the Jedi Council about the Separatist Movement and the possibility of war arising when Amidala, and other members of the “Loyalist Committee” arrive. After speaking about her attack, and Padme voicing her belief that Dooku was behind it, Palpatine suggests that Obi-Wan Kenobi be assigned to protect Padme and the Council agrees. Later that day, Obi-Wan and his Padawan, Anakin Skywalker, arrive at Padme’s chambers and Padme is shocked to see how much Anakin has grown. Anakin and Obi-Wan argue on their course of action, then later discuss Anakin’s dreams concerning his mother and his feelings towards Padme. Meanwhile, the bounty hunter assigned to kill Padme meets with his associate, Zam Wesell, and hands her a tube filled with venomous centipedes to use in another attempt on Padme. Zam gives the tube to a droid, which flies to Padme’s window and unleashes the centipedes into Padme’s room while she is sleeping but Anakin and Obi-Wan sense the centipedes and Anakin is able to kill them before they attack Padme. Obi-Wan spots the droid and leaps through the window, grabbing onto the droid as it flies away while Anakin grabs a speeder and chases after them. The droid heads back towards Zam, who shoots the droid out of the sky but Anakin catches Obi-Wan as he is falling and they continue chasing after Zam. The eventually catch up to her at a night club, where Obi-Wan cuts off her arm when she tries to shoot him, but as they take her outside to question her, she is killed by the other bounty hunter, who uses his rocket pack to blast off into the night sky. The next day, the Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan to track down the bounty hunter and has Anakin escort Padme back to Naboo for safekeeping. suggesting Anakin speak with Palpatine to convince her to go. Anakin speaks with Palpatine, who says he will order her to leave, then congratulates Anakin on his first solo assignment while elsewhere, Obi-Wan voices his concern to Mace Windu and Yoda about giving Anakin the assignment. After Anakin and Padme leave, Obi-Wan heads to a diner run by his friend Dexter Jettster and asks him about the dart used to kill Zam. Dexter tells him that it is a Kamino Sabre Dart and tells him where Kamino is, saying that the citizens there are cloners and are friendly enough if you have a big enough pocketbook. Obi-Wan searches the Jedi archives but finds no record of it in their system so he interrupts Yoda, who is teaching a class of children, about the matter. Yoda uses it as a teaching exercise for his pupils and they determine that someone had erased the information from the Archives, and Yoda says he will check on it as Obi-Wan heads off to Kamino. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme, along with R2, arrive on Naboo, and Padme discusses the current situation with the new Queen but as Padme’s security arrangements, Padme overrules Anakin’s suggestions, which upsets him as she seems to be treating him like he is still a child. Obi-Wan arrives on Kamino, where he is greeted by Tuan We, who says that he was expected and escorts him to the Prime Minister Lama Su. Lama Su tells Obi-Wan that the Jedi’s order of a clone army is on schedule, with 200,000 units ready now and 1 million more underway. Obi-Wan then learns that the order was placed by Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas 10 years ago, which startles Obi-Wan as Sifo-Dyas had been dead almost 10 years, the Lama Su invites Obi-Wan to inspect the clone army being built for the Republic. As he is shown the clone army, Obi-Wan learns that the genetic template for the army came from a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, who asked for an unaltered clone as part of his payment and Obi-Wan asks to meet him. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme arrive at Padme’s island home but as the two spend time together, they start to become romantically attracted to each other, with Anakin kissing Padme at one point, even though romantic love is forbidden in the Jedi Code. As they have dinner later that night, Anakin speaks about his feelings for her and suggest they can keep their love a secret but Padme says that they would be living a lie and she couldn’t live like that. Back on Kamino, Obi-Wan meets Jango and his “son” Boba Fett and questions him on if he has been on Coruscant recently, then asks if ho knows Sifo-Dyas but Jango says he was hired by a man named Tyrannus and after Obi-Wan leaves, Jango tells Boba to get ready to leave. Obi-Wan returns to his ship and contacts Mace and Yoda, explaining what he learned and asking them if the Council had authorized the creation of the army. Mace tells him no and Yoda says to bring Jango back to Coruscant for questioning and after ending the communication, the two Masters discuss telling the Senate how the Jedi’s ability to use the Force has diminished but Yoda fears that the knowledge will increase their enemies. Obi-Wan confronts Jango as he is about to leave and the two fight but Jango, with the help of Boba manning his ship’s weapons, manages to get away but Obi-Wan manages to throw a homing disc onto the ship, Slave 1, as it lifts off. Back on Naboo, Anakin has a dream concerning his mother in great pain and tells Padme he has to abandon her to go find out if she is ok but Padme says she will go with him. The two travel to Tatooine and go to see Watto, who tells Anakin that he sold Shmi to a moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars, who freed and married her. Meanwhile, Ob-Wan follows Jango to the planet Geonosis and after tricking Jango into thinking he was killed, follows him down to the surface, noting the large amount of Trade Federation ships in the area, before he lands and goes to explore. BAck on Tatooine, Anakin and Padme reach the Lars’ farm and are surprised to see C-3P0 working on the vaporators. After 3P0 introduces Anakin and Padme to Cliegg Lars, his son Owen and Owen’s girlfriend Beru, Anakin asks about his mother and Cliegg explains that she was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. Anakin leaves Padme with the Lars and heads out to find the Tusken Raiders, eventually finding their camp. Anakin locates Shmi and frees her but she ends up dying in his arms, and in his anger and grief over not being able to save her, he slaughters all of the Raiders in the camp. Back on Geonosis, Obi-Wan sees Count Dooku working with the Trade Federation to enlist other planetary groups to the Separatist Movement, promising that their droid army will be able to overpower the Jedi. Obi-Wan tries to contact Coruscant but he is too far away so he contacts Anakin, leaving a message for him to relay to Coruscant only to be attacked and captured during it. Back on Tatooine, Anakin returns with Shmi’s body and as Cliegg, Owen, and Beru prepare it for burial, Anakin tells Padme what he did, upset over his inability to save his mother and how he slaughtered the Tusken Raiders. As they funish the funeral, R2 approaches them and informs Anakin and Padme about Obi-Wan’s message and they relay it to the Jedi Council. Mace orders Anakin to stay where he is and protect Padme while they help Obi-Wan but Padme says the Jedi won’t get there in time so she decides to head to Geonosis to help, with Anakin, R2, and 3P0 going with her. On Coruscant, Palpatine is given emergency powers to deal with the Separatist Army, and Mace heads out to help Obi-Wan while Yoda heads to Kamino to take command of the clone army. On Geonosis, Count Dooku speaks with the captive Obi-Wan and tries to convince him to join him, saying that the Senate was under the control of a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious, but Obi-Wan refuses to believe him. When Anakin and Padme arrive, they attempt to sneak into the droid manufacturing plant but they are soon captured. As they are taken to the arena to be executed, Padme tells Anakin that she loves him, wanting him to know before they die, and they share a kiss. The two are chained up to poles next to Obi-Wan, and the Geonosian leader orders their execution, having three creatures released to kill them. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme manage to free themselves and attempt to fend off the creatures just as Mace Windu arrives with the other Jedi to rescue them. Dooku summons the droid army, including the new Super Battle Droids, and they begin fighting with the Jedi, with Jango attacking Mace but Mace decapitates him. As the Jedi begin to get overwhelmed, Yoda arrives with the clone army to rescue the surviving Jedi. As the two armies clash, Dooku and the Separatist leaders plan to retreat, with Dooku taking the plans for their ultimate weapon with him. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme spot Dooku leaving and go after him but when their ship is attacked, Padme is knocked out of the ship and falls to the sand below. Anakin wants to go back for her but Obi-Wan convinces him to help him and Anakin reluctantly agrees. When they reach the hangar that Dooku was heading towards, Anakin rushes in to attack him but is knocked back by Dooku’s Force lightning. Dooku attacks Obi-Wan, first with lightning and then with his lightsaber, eventually scorching Obi-Wan’s arm and leg to cripple him. As Dooku goes to finish him off, Anakin recovers and stops him, and Obi-Wan throws him his lightsaber to use as well but Dooku easily defeats him, severing his right arm and shoving him aside. Suddenly, Yoda appears and begins fighting with Dooku and the two end up evenly matched but when Dooku causes a pillar to start to fall on Obi-Wan and Anakin, Yoda is forced to let Dooku escape in order to save them. Dooku makes his way to Coruscant, where he meets up with Darth Sidious, who refers to Dooku as Darth Tyrannus, and says everything is going as planned. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan speaks with Mace and Yoda about what has occurred and wonders if Dooku was right about a Sith Lord controlling the Senate, as Palpatine and the Loyalist Senators watch as the Clone Army boards the various ship to head out into battle. Meanwhile, Anakin has escorted Padme back to Naboo, where the two get married in a secret ceremony.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones met with mixed praise from the critics, holding a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones benefits from an increased emphasis on thrilling action, although they’re once again undercut by ponderous plot points and underdeveloped characters.” When Jango is boarding Slave 1 after fighting Obi-Wan, he bangs his head on the doorway, which was intentionally done as a nod to the infamous goof in A New Hope, where a stormtrooper hit his head on a doorway. The movie was a box office hit, earning $649.4 million off of a $115 million budget, however it was the first movie in the franchise to not be the top box office hit of the year, being surpassed by both Spider-Man and The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers.

You know, this was a decent movie all in all. The acting was ok, with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Lee doing good jobs in their roles of Obi-Wan and Count Dooku respectively. Now, I know this is going to sound somewhat blasphemous, but after watching this again a little more objectively, I do think that Hayden Christensen did a good job in his role as Anakin. Despite all of his powers and abilities, Anakin was essentially a teenager trying to act like an adult and getting frustrated by all the rules and responsibilities he is forced to follow or when things don’t go the way he wants. This is pretty much what a lot of teenagers go through in life and this is exactly how Hayden played the character. The story was honestly a little weak and while it essentially had two main parts to it, Obi-Wan’s mission and Anakin and Padme’s romance (which both tied together to start the beginning of the Clone Wars), the back and forth between the two plot lines felt disjointed and they could have done a better job with the transition between them. Added to this was the fact that the dialogue honestly sucked, with Anakin’s soliloquy on sand just sounding stupid. The special effects were pretty good but I have to admit that the coolest effect was something that wasn’t actually an effect. On Tatooine, when Anakin talks with Padme before he leaves to find his mom, his shadow against the building resembles Darth Vader and according to the DVD Commentary, this was entirely a coincidence. A decent entry in the series but it could have been done better.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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