Last time out, we looked at why characters, both main and supporting, are probably the most important element to consider when reviewing a movie. What comes next? Plot.
Better late than never, we always say. We only got to see Coco a few days ago, and we loved it so much that we needed to acknowledge and recognise its greatness!
Reviewing movies might be a fairly subjective exercise BUT every opinion needs to be explained with concrete reasoning and backed by evidence.
2017 was a very eventful year for geek movies in general. Geek franchises like the MCU and Star Wars demonstrated their wide-ranging popularity with the masses whilst (sometimes) dumbing down story content in the process.
Mortal Engines is a movie adaptation of the novel of the same name (by Philip Reeve), which focuses on a futuristic, steampunk version of London, now a giant machine striving to survive on a world running out of resources.
Iron Man marks Marvel’s first self-developed and self-financed film (in a ten-film deal with Paramount) and the way that this Jon Favreau-directed, Robert Downey-starred blockbuster translates the comic book so successfully onto the big screen augers well for the other Marvel films to come.
One of the better movies of 2017, Ingrid Goes WestReel is a dark incisive commentary on the millennial obsession with social media.
Diehard Star Wars fans who were somewhat mystified by the ‘soft reboot’ that director JJ Abrams fashioned with The Force Awakens (TFA) will find little comfort in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi (TLJ), which remakes creator George Lucas’ legacy into a generic movie blockbuster. Spoilers follow.
The mischaracterisation of Luke Skywalker
If portraying Luke as a coward in TFA – running away and hiding from the rise of the First Order – wasn’t bad enough, TLJ does its best to denigrate the memory of our hero.
First, he tosses away Anakin’s light sabre like it was so much garbage and then stubbornly refuses to train Rey whatsoever. This Luke Skywalker basically gave up and is just waiting to die.
Seriously, what the fuck?!
Then we find out that he intended – even for a split second – to kill his nephew (Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren) when he saw the darkness in him.
C’mon, this is the man who refused to believe that his father (Darth Vader!) could not be redeemed despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And yet, we are led to believe that he wanted to kill Ben Solo? Ridiculous.
Also, remember that entire vision sequence of the Knights of Ren killing Jedi trainees in the rain at Luke’s Jedi school? None of that appears in TLJ! Instead we have a quite lame scene of Kylo Ren bringing the roof down and Luke emerging from the rubble later on. Really really atrocious.
And … did Luke really need killing off at the end? Sigh.
A middle finger to the Star Wars diehard fans
As inferior a Star Wars movie as TFA was, it did at least lay down the groundwork for a new universe that got diehards in a tizzy coming up with theories regarding Rey’s parentage, Snoke’s background, the circumstances behind Luke’s disappearance, and so on.
TLJ basically shits on all this – giving diehards the finger in the process. Rey’s parents are nobodies, the mysterious Snoke is killed off (unnecessarily and in a silly manner to boot!) and remains a mystery, and the less said about how Luke is treated the better.
Dig deeper and one realises the obvious message here. Disney does not give a fuck about George Lucas’ original story ideas and not only does this new trilogy depart significantly, it also states emphatically that there is no connection whatsoever to Star Wars lore.
An utter lack of respect for the original material is displayed and simply put, Star Wars is reduced to a brand, which Disney can now exploit as it thinks fit without any reference whatsoever to the Lucas legacy. The ultimate “FUCK YOU” to George Lucas.
The pointless Finn-Rose sub-plot
The most frustrating thing about TLJ, without a doubt. A meaningless diversion from the main storyline finds Finn and Rose travelling to Canto Bight on a mission to find a code-breaker.
Considering the movie is 150 minutes and the manner in which this sub-plot pans out, this entire sequence could have been left out without any impact on the story whatsoever!
Perhaps it was included for Rian Johnson to make a comment about arms dealers? Or maybe to introduce the concept behind his own upcoming Star Wars trilogy? Who the fuck knows or even cares? There is just no logical reason for this sub-plot to exist. A waste of screen time.
The non-sensical expansion of Force powers
Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where Indy survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge?
Well, the Star Wars franchise finally has its own ‘jump the shark’ moment with Princess Leia flying through space like Superman! Did she ever demonstrate Force abilities before?
Not only that but where in the past, Luke and Darth Vader (and Leia) had a telepathic connection (they are family after all), now in TLJ, Kylo and Rey somehow get ‘Force Skype’ powers and are able to video conference across the vast span of space and somehow touch as well, without any connection between them whatsoever! How exactly does that work?
And of course, finally, the coup de grace, where somehow (again!) Luke is able to project himself (astrally?) to confront Kylo in the third act from light years away. Simply incredible Force powers that function as deus ex machinas for both Leia and Luke.
We can see how these new Force powers serve as exciting plot twists for the average movie-goer but for the diehard fan, it’s a kick in the teeth!
The silly premise of the slow motion chase between the First Order and the Resistance
Much of the second act was occupied by the farcical sight of the First Order pursuing the Resistance in outer space, as the latter is somehow (!) out of range of the former’s weapons yet running out of fuel at the same time!
Have you ever come across space ships of this size in the Star Wars franchise running on fuel (?) and this is taking place a good 30 years after the original trilogy, mind you.
But we guess that if you can have a planet serving as a weapon without explaining how it moves from point to point (Starkiller Base), then anything goes, right?
Worse yet, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, who takes over from Leia when she is incapacitated – flying in space sure takes its toll! – refuses to explain her plan to Poe Dameron , which results in the pointless Finn-Rose subplot etc.
When Holdo’s plan is finally explained to Poe by Leia, he thinks it’s a good one! All that time, effort and angst wasted!
AND why didn’t Holdo’s suicide mission happen earlier? That would have guaranteed the safety of the escaping small transports
Really really bad writing by Rian Johnson!
The final analysis
With TFA and TLJ, Disney’s agenda becomes crystal clear – to bring Star Wars as far away from Lucas’ original vision as far as possible.
Which is fine as a concept but the execution is really poor. Inconsistent characterisation, a lack of respect for lore, bad writing, inconsequential sub-plots and characters (Captain Phasma?) make these movies truly messy affairs.
Mission accomplished as far as Disney is concerned. Star Wars is now a run-of-the-mill mass market blockbuster, no longer the singular vision of an artist but a corporate vehicle for maximum profits made by committee.
… still there’s more …
As geek franchise movies devolve further and deeper into formulaic cash-grabs, it is left to the scifi adaptation to provide us geeks with edgy, artistic material to savour and meditate on.
At this point, does it matter what we say about the new Star Wars movie?
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time – 17 years ago – when a superhero movie was not only a rarity but a bit of a joke.
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Entertainment Weekly provides a first look at the upcoming X-Men movie, Dark Phoenix.
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To put it simply, Justice League is a mixed bag, an uneasy balance of light over darkness – which is probably what the general public wants right now for its super-hero movie diet.
We have loved Star Trek: Discovery from the get-go and in this mid-season finale, the show gives us everything we have been waiting for thus far.
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It’s fair to say that Dunkirk is an unconventional war movie. Considering that renowned director Christopher Nolan is at the helm, that comes as little surprise.
Here we are again, about to defend a geek movie that most movie critics have harshly criticised. In a crowded space for summer blockbusters, it was difficult for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to get attention from movie goers but it is definitely worth the effort!