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

November 17th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars Holiday Special

star wars holiday special

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 15th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi

star wars episode VI - return of the jedi

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

November 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 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

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

November 11th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

star wars episode I - the phantom menace

At the end of the 20th century (shut up purists, I know the 20th century didn’t end until Dec. 31st, 2000), fans lined up for miles outside theaters in order to watch the first new Star Wars film in 16 years. Teaser trailers abounded for a year, which wasn’t really necessary as the mere mention of a new Star Wars movie was enough to get fans salivating. I know they weren’t necessary for me, as I did my part waiting in line to be there at a midnight showing opening night, hoping that my expectations would be met with the movie. Well, I enjoyed it and bought it so let’s get to watching how Vader came to be with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

The plot: The Trade Federation has set up a blockade around the planet of Naboo so Chancellor Valorum dispatches Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi to Naboo to negotiate with them. When they arrive on Viceroy Nute Gunray’s ship, Gunray contacts Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord, and tells him about the Jedi’s arrival so Sidious tells him to kill the Jedi, while he works on making the blockade legal. Gunray has the Jedi’s ship destroyed but fails to kill the Jedi, who attempt to reach Gunray on the bridge of his ship before they are forced to leave when a pair of destroyer droids arrive. Sneaking down onto the loading docks, they see an invasion army preparing for launch and stow aboard the ships so they can make their way to the planet’s surface. Meanwhile, Gunray receives a transmission from Queen Amidala of Naboo, demanding he cease the blockade and saying she knows that the Chancellor’s ambassadors are on his ship but Gunray denies any knowledge of them, then orders the invasion to begin after ending the transmission. After the invasion ships land on the surface, Qui-Gon rescues Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan who has been banished from the Gungan city. After meeting up with Obi-Wan, the two Jedi convince Jar Jar to take them to the city so they can get help in reaching Naboo. When they reach the city, they are taken to see Boss Nass, the Gungan leader, who ignores their pleas to help the Naboo so Qui-Gon uses the Force to influence him into giving them a ship so they can go, then arranges for Jar Jar to accompany them, saying that Jar Jar owes him a life debt. The trio make their way in a Gungan sub through the waters and after being attacked by several large predators, arrive in the capital city of Naboo. Meanwhile, Gunray’s droid army has taken control of the city and captured Queen Amidala and her court, then tells Amidala that he wants her to sign a treaty to legalize his occupation of Naboo but she refuses. As Amidala and her court are taken away, they are rescued by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, who want to take her to Coruscant, as Qui-Gon believes that there is more than just an occupation at work here. Heading to the hangars, they rescue some pilots and make their way to a cruiser and leave, but the ship is damaged as they make their way through the blockade and they are forced to land on Tatooine in order to make repairs, though Captain Panaka, Amidala’s Chief of Security, doesn’t like the idea and voices his displeasure. Meanwhile, Gunray and his aide contact Sidious and explain Amidala’s escape but Sidious tells them his apprentice, Darth Maul, will find her and bring her back to Naboo to sign the treaty. On Tatooine, Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, and R2-D2, the astromech droid that repaired the shield generator as they were leaving Naboo, head towards Mos Espa to search for the parts they need when Panaka stops them and says that Amidala wants one of her handmaidens, Padme, to accompany them and though he says it is a bad idea, Qui-Gon reluctantly agrees. Heading into one of the shops, Qui-Gon speaks with the owner, a Toydarian named Watto, and Qui-Gon learns that Watto has the parts they need but finds the Toydarian immune to mind control and is unable to make a deal with him. Meanwhile, Padme speaks with nine-year old Anakin Skywalker, a slave that Watto owns, who tells her he is a pilot and one day plans on leaving Tatooine. After leaving the shop to figure out there next move, Jar Jar has a run in with Sebulba, a mean-tempered Dug, but Jar Jar is saved by Anakin, who taunts Sebulba about the upcoming pod race. As a sandstorm approaches, Anakin takes them to his home to seek shelter, introducing them to his mom, Shmi. When they get there, Anakin shows Padme C-3P0, the protocol droid he is building to help his mother, and 3P0 starts to bond with R2. Meanwhile, Amidala receives a message from Naboo detailing what is happening but Obi-Wan tells her not to contact them back, as it could be a trap, but unfortunately, Darth Maul is able to track their location and he heads to Tatooine to find them. Back on Tatooine, Qui-Gon is talking with Shmi and Anakin and ends up explaining their situation to them. Anakin says he is building a racing pod and suggest entering him into the race, which would allow them to make the money needed to buy the parts, and though Shmi doesn’t like it, she agrees it is their best chance. When the storm passes, Qui-Gon returns to Watto’s shop with Anakin and makes a deal with Watto, using their ship as collateral. That afternoon, Anakin works on getting his pod racer ready and Qui-Gon speaks with Shmi about Anakin and his father, to which Shmi said he didn’t have one. That night, as he tends to some of Anakin’s cuts, Qui-Gon takes a blood sample and sends it to Obi-Wan, who says the Midi-Chlorian count is off the charts, higher even than Master Yoda. On the day of the race, Watto taunts Qui-Gon about the race, saying he is betting on Sebulba to win the race, so Qui-Gon takes the bet and if Anakin wins, he is free to go with Qui-Gon. As the racers move to the starting line and the announcers introduce them, Sebulba secretly heads over to Anakin’s pod and sabotages it, before taunting Anakin. As the race starts, Anakin’s pod stalls out but he manages to get the engine started and takes off after the other racers while Sebulba, who is in the lead, does whatever he can to keep it. After two laps, Anakin and Sebulba are the only two racers left and Anakin takes the lead when Sebulba’s sabotage finally takes effect, causing one of his engines to catch fire. As Sebulba retakes the lead, Anakin is able to put out the fire and restart the engine, then catches up to Sebulba and as they jockey for position, one of Anakin’s engines latches onto one of Sebulba’s and Anakin leaps forward, causing Sebulba to crash as his engines separate, leaving Anakin the winner. As Jar Jar, Padme, and Shmi congratulate Anakin on his victory, Qui-Gon speaks with Watto, who is angry at losing his bet and starts to refuse to give Qui-Gon Anakin but reluctantly agrees when Qui-Gon threatens to take the matter up with the Hutts. After taking the parts to the ship so Obi-Wan and the others can get started on repairs, Qui-Gon heads back to town to get Anakin and tell him he is free and Anakin is excited about leaving but sad about leaving his mom. As the two make their way back to the ship, they are attacked by Darth Maul and Qui-Gon battles with him as Anakin runs ahead to the ship. Once Anakin is on board, Obi-Wan has the ship fly towards the battle and Qui-Gon is able to leap onto the open gang plank and they make their escape. When they arrive on Coruscant, they are greeted by Naboo’s senator Palpatine and the Republic’s Supreme Chancellor Valorum and Valorum says that he has arranged a special meeting of the Senate so Amidala can speak of what is happening on Naboo while Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan head to the Jedi Temple to speak to the Jedi Council. In the Council, the Jedi believe that Qui-Gon’s attacker is a Sith Lord but are surprised that the Sith could have come back without their knowledge. Qui-Gon then speaks to the Council about Anakin, asking that he be tested for entry into the Jedi, as he believes he might be the child spoken about in a Jedi prophecy. At the Senate meeting, Amidala pleads her case but when Valorum asks that it be turned over to committee, Amidala, at Palpatine’s subtle urging, calls for a vote of no confidence against Valorum. After returning to her chambers, Padme is approached by Jar Jar, who talks about the situation back on Naboo, and when she learns that Palpatine is one of the men in contention to be the next Supreme Chancellor, she decides to head back to Naboo. Meanwhile, Anakin is tested by the Jedi Council and though he is strong in the Force, they refuse to train him as a Jedi. Qui-Gon argues against their ruling, so he will take Anakin as his Padawan, as he believes Obi-Wan is ready to become a Jedi Knight, but the council forbids it, then has him and Obi-Wan accompany Amidala back to Naboo. When they arrive on Naboo, Amidala sends Jar Jar to seek out the Gungans but when Jar Jar finds the city deserted, he feels that the Gungans went to their hidden place to regroup and leads them there. When they approach Boss Nass, Padme reveals herself to actually be Queen Amidala, explaining that the other Amidala was merely her bodyguard serving as a decoy. Padme then begs the Gungans for help in defeating the droid army and Boss Nass, liking the fact that Padme does not act like she is better than the Gungans, agrees to help. Padme lays out her plan, having the Gungan army lure out the droid army into the plains, while she leads the rest of her group into the city to capture Gunray and send her ships out to take out the droid control ship in space, shutting down the droids. The Gungans head out into the plains and activate an energy shield, which is able to withstand the droid army’s tank fire so the droids march on foot into the shield to fight the Gungans. Padme’s group enter the city and manage to secure the hangar, sending their ships out to destroy the command ship. As Padme heads out to go after Gunray, they are confronted by Darth Maul, wielding a double-bladed lightsaber, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan move to deal with him while Padme and the rest of her soldiers are attacked by 3 Destroyer droids. Anakin, who had hidden inside a Naboo fighter with R2, accidentally activates it and manages to take out the Destroyer droids as the auto pilots takes him out into space. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan continue their fight with Darth Maul but eventually end up being separated from each other by some energy shields near the power core. As the shields go down, Qui-Gon continues the fight with Darth Maul while Obi-Wan rushes to join him but is trapped behind the energy shields again and can only watch as Qui-Gon is stabbed in the gut by Darth Maul’s lightsaber. Meanwhile, Padme leads her troops to capture Gunray, splitting up when their way is blocked, but she ends up being captured. As she is taken to see Gunray, Sabe, her decoy, appears and Gunray sends his droids after her, allowing Padme to grab some hidden weapons and take Gunray hostage. Out in space, R2 is finally able to take the ship off auto pilot and as Anakin pilots the ship, he ends up crashing into the control ship’s hangar. As R2 gets the systems restored, Anakin uses the weapons and ends up blasting the power core, then flies out of the ship as it explodes around him. On the surface, the Gungan’s shield is destroyed and they are forced to retreat but are quickly captured by the droid army when they suddenly shut down, and the Gungans begin cheering over their victory. Back in the power core, Obi-Wan continues the fight against Darth Maul and though he manages to cut Darth Maul’s double bladed lightsaber in half, Maul Force shoves him and knocks him down the central shaft. Obi-Wan manages to grab onto a handhold and as Darth Maul swings the lightsaber towards him, Obi-Wan is able to leap over him, and summon Qui-Gon’s lightsaber to his hand, using it to cut Darth Maul in half. As Gunray is led to a shuttle and forced to leave the planet, Palpatine arrives, having won the special election and is now the Supreme Chancellor. Members of the Jedi Council and in a private meeting, Yoda confirms Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight and, though he thinks it is a bad idea, says the Council agree to let Obi-Wan train Anakin. As a funeral pyre is held to cremate Qui-Gon, Yoda and Mace Windu speak about the attacker, wondering if it was the Sith Master or Apprentice that Obi-Wan killed. The next day, a ceremony is held as Boss Nass, Jar Jar, and Captain Tarpals of the Gungans join Padme, Palpatine, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Panaka, and the rest of Padme’s court in a peace celebration between the two races.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy — albeit visually dazzling — start.” When the first trailers for the movie were released, theaters reported that up to 75% of audiences would buy tickets for movies which screened the trailer, then leave after the trailer was shown. Audiences were surprised, and delighted, to see E.T.’s species featured as a Senate contingent, which was done as a tribute to George Lucas’ longtime friendship with Steven Spielberg and to show that the two movies shared the same universe. The movie was a box office hit, earning $924.3 million off of a $115 million budget, making it the highest grossing movie in the franchise at the time, until it was surpassed by Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

This has some good parts to it, but I was honestly a little disappointed in the movie as a whole. The acting was fairly good, with Liam Neeson doing a great job as Qui-Gon, playing the mentor role with Obi-Wan as well as showcasing the tendency to move to the beat of his own drum, which would sometimes move against the wishes of the Jedi Council. I thought Ewan McGregor did a good job in playing a young Obi-Wan, and I liked Natalie Portman as Padme, but the idea of bringing back Ian McDiarmid reprising his role as Palpatine was genius in my opinion. The story was good in the sense that it set up future events that we know will happen, but it was a little weak on it’s own merits. Another thing I felt that they could have done a better job with was that the added too much of a comic twist to this movie. I mean, Jar Jar was nothing more than a comic foil for the entire movie and it took away from the depth of the story. Yes, there was some humor in the original Star Wars trilogy but it was more subtle and usually a line or two, or a line and a reaction or situation resulting from it, but Jar Jar was just annoying. The special effects were very good but I honestly think they relied on the special effects a little too much at times to try and help carry the story. That aside, the scenes of the citys (Gungan City, Naboo, Coruscant) were spectacular and definitely showcased some of the best elements of the effects. A great start for a new generation of films, but definitely lacking compared to the original trilogy.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

star wars episode V - the empire strikes back


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

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

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

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

Rating: 5 out of 5

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

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

star wars episode IV - a new hope

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5 out of 5