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The Rise of Skywalker – Not Rising to the Occasion

I had the dubious pleasure of watching Rise of Skywalker this week.

Too long, didn’t read? I hated it. I hated everything about it. It managed to claim the coveted spot of Worst Star Wars Media Ever, knocking the dipso duo of the holiday special and The Last Jedi out of the way in its hurry to claim the title.

That probably marks me as one of those sycophantic fanboys who just gets mad every time the studios, writers, directors or whoever don’t do what I want. I had to hear that enough when I said I didn’t like Last Jedi, too. I don’t think that’s what I am; I just think there was that much garbage in this thing. Of course, I’m probably wrong; I also think Rose Tico sucked, which makes me a misogynist racist and not someone who just thought her plot was stupid, pointless, bloating an already bloated movie or shattering the chance for one of the good characters to have an epic, heroic moment. (For the record, I quite like Finn, and while some have claimed “Because patriarchy!” I don’t care what gender the character is. I just think a reformed stormtrooper who actually does some of the cool stuff is fun.) Also, as much as Holdo irritates me, she’s got some awesome moments, and that lightspeed collision was freakin’ awesome (though I think it should have been Leia, so she got a suitably heroic and awesome death instead of that idiotic flying thing she did and what happens to her in RoS.)

Most folks who accused me of being a misogynistic fanboy who hates all joy would probably be confused as to why I hate Rise of Skywalker even more; after all, Rose Tico becomes a piece of the background, there’s dominant male figures, Reylo happens, Palpatine is back, we get an explanation for Snoke, everything’s back to normal. Except that’s not ever what it was about. It was about telling a good goddamn story that makes freakin’ sense.

That’s where Rise of Skywalker falls flat on it’s face. There’s other problems – that the whole thing feels like 45 or so unrelated 5 minute vignettes instead of a whole movie, that it never takes a second to just breathe and let us take in what happened, that the plot devices were silly and too convoluted, that every time something actually interesting might happen we have to go all Michael Bay and blow some shit up and that most of it feels like Abrahms giving the middle finger to Johnson – but I spent the whole damn time going “That doesn’t make any goddamn sense in this universe!”

So, spoilers ahoy, because I’m just going to run down the list of shit that infuriated me with the level of stupid, the plot holes, the gloss overs, the idiot plans of the characters. Ready? Go.

1. Palpatine is back. If he was a clone (or if the Emperor seen in Return of the Jedi was), that’s fine, I guess. Stupid, but fine. But no indication is made of that. Instead I’m supposed to believe he survived getting hucked down a reactor core, electrocuted, exploding (twice) and planetfall in the remains of a destroyed superstation. Horse shit.

2. Palpatine wants to drain the life of Kylo and Rey to regenerate. Sure, sounds like a plan. Except, if he needs life force, why not eat all those cultists or whatever they were who were bobbing their heads and chanting the Sephiroth theme? Why not suck dry the few thousand Sith troopers who just happen to be on the planet (which is also stupid)? How about the Snokes-in-a-jar (or hell, clone more of ’em and them, too.) There’s no reason for him to sit around waiting for those two. They may be quality eats, but I’m willing to bet devouring a few thousand is going to get the job done. Quantity, in this case, is likely to trump quality.

3. Palpatine wants to eat Kylo and Rey, and lures Kylo to Exegal. Okay. Then, instead of eating him, he lies to him and sends him off to go fetch Rey. Meanwhile, he’s made it stupidly convoluted for Rey to find her way there without Kylo. Apparently, the Emperor has Alzheimers, as he forgot what happened the last time he took a Sith Skywalker and a Jedi into his inner chambers for nefarious purposes. Even if he could somehow keep Kylo loyal, Kylo isn’t a bloody idiot and showed up wanting to gank Palpy anyway. Better to get rid of him and lure Rey in nice and easy.

4. Rey is Palpy’s granddaughter. Excuse me, fuck what? So, the Emperor had a kid, who we’ve never heard of but that he knew about. Somehow this kid is not on the Imperial payroll, and manages to stay hidden until he’s got a six year old, and further somehow manages to hide that six year old from a Jedi hunter. You know, those guys who are frequently force sensitive, trained to track and kill people, and who had the full backing of the Empire? Yeah, them. Somehow missed a six year old (who’s so super Force powerful she learns all the tricks within seconds of being exposed to it, adopts a rare lightsaber form from instinct, and scares the piss out of Luke she’s so strong) just because she’s hanging with a junk trader. Bullshit.

5. Leia being Rey’s trainer. Okay, Luke’s “dead” (not that it stops him), Yoda’s a ghost (who doesn’t bother saying “hey, my presence might be helpful), Obi-Wan, Qui-Gonn, Ezra, Asokha and god knows how many other force ghosts don’t care. She’s got the bloody texts, and what does she need training for anyway? She knows all the tricks and is better at them than anyone else anyway. But Leia, who trained a little under Luke (that we never heard about until now) is now Jedi Master enough to train the next Jedi Messiah? Bullshit.

6. Anakin’s lightsaber. Maybe I missed something, but I could have sworn Kylo and Rey blew it up while playing tug-o-war with it at the end of Last Jedi, and I don’t remember Rey stopping to pick up the pieces before she booked it. But don’t worry, it’s fine, now.

7. The ATVs the stormtroopers use during the chase scene. Why treads? Useless and causing more trouble than they’re worth (both with potential for mechanical failure, and the added cost of having to repair that AND the antigravity thrusters, since it looks like they still float in the back.) Plus the little “launch” hiccup when they have the jetpack troopers take off looks dumb and is unnecessary.

8. “They can fly, now?” Not because I have a problem with jetpack troopers, because that tech has already been shown in Star Wars (Boba/Jango Fett, and I could swear I had a jetpack trooper action figure back in the 80s, though I might be wrong.) But because Finn and Poe are surprised by it.

9. Healing the snake. That was flat out retarded. “Hey, lookit this cool new Force power which has never been indicated to exist in any way previously that I just know how to do, and lookit how I show it off for no bloody reason when I could just cut this obviously hostile – and probably responsible for the death of the Jedi hunter – monster in half and move along! And lookit how it shows gratitude and wanders off!” Stupid.

10. The multi-layer MagGuffins. “I need to get this thing. But to get this thing, I have to find this other thing. Which means hunting for a third thing. Luke and Lando were looking for the thing (and never mind how they knew to look for the thing or what they were doing or why they just gave up) so there’s a clue trail, let’s go!” Further, since Palpy wants her to come, you think he’d make it easier to get there, instead of giving her more chances to show off, learn new Jedi tricks, or harden herself.

11. The magic captain’s coin. I don’t give a crap if you have a magic coin or not (the Empire has previously been shown to be very lax on security, so it not being deactivated or reported stolen I’m willing to overlook), if you fly in there in the friggin’ Millenium Falcon – you know, that ship that was present for two of your greatest defeats, that is the known vessel of several of your Most Wanted targets, that has the Hutts looking for it – general protocol should be to just blow the sucker up. The odds of it showing up and actually having a Sith/Imperial/First Order guy on board who just forgot to phone ahead and submit to screening is essentially 0.

12. Chewbacca’s “death.” Aside from it being a cheap fake-out, you’re telling me Rey and Kylo couldn’t still sense him being alive? Bullshit.

13. C3P0’s memory wipe. “Here, have a touching moment. Have some actual stakes. We’ll make a couple jokes about it. Oh, you thought that would stick? Nope. He’s fixed, back to himself. No worries.”

14. I hate them, but what happened to the Porgs on the Millenium Falcon? They tore the whole thing up and turned it into a giant nest, and one of them acted like it was Chewbacca’s new pet. Now they’re just gone.

15. Palpatine’s Death Star Destroyers. Whether he conjured them with the Force or had a secret factory under Exegal, why sit on them for 30+ years? If you want the galaxy, the time to use them would have been right after you got back from your double explosion. Luke’s the only known Jedi, the Republic is still trying to put itself back together. Nuke a few planets and announce “You thought I was gone, bitches? Nah ah ah!” Alternatively, should have just sent Snoke with a few of those instead of the Starkiller base bullshit. In fact, Palpy being alive and having his Death Star Destroyers makes the whole Snoke ploy utterly pointless.

16. Palpatine’s plan. When not yet up to full strength and planning to eat a couple of uber-Jedi to get there, let’s tell everyone you’re there and about to start killin’ folks. No, idiot. Wait until you’re going to do it, then do it and wait a little longer for whatever terrorist act you commit to sink in, then tell them you’re there. Bragging about how you’re coming is just going to rile up potential resistance, which has never gone well for him in the past.

17. Palpy’s plan, part two. Announce you’re back and ready to blow shit up, lure in your wayward children, eat them. Except, no, that’s not the plan; the plan is to die and possess Rey and make her Empress. This is very stupid. If Reypatine turns up and demands subservience, people are probably not going to obey (at least at first) because Palpy told everyone he’s coming. They’re more likely to be scared of him, and assume that supporting – or accepting – Rey as Empress is just going to make the Emperor mad. Again, don’t tell them you’re coming until you’re actually doing it, dipshit!

18. Palpy’s a dumbass, mark… 208, I imagine. Try to force lightning your granddaughter? Okay; but when the granddaughter starts reflecting the lightning back at you, turn that shit off, yo! Just… stop. Don’t keep firing and disintegrate yourself, you idiot.

19. Kylo magically learns the healing trick, uses it on Rey, dies. Just dumb all around, though at this point I guess Rey fans should be glad she’s not a Skywalker; every Skywalker who uses a cool Force trick dies right after, so…

There’s more. So many more. I could go on for ages about it, but I’m not MauLer, so I’ll stop there. All in all? I hated it, thought it was the stupidest Star Wars media ever made, and want to die.

Your opinions? Did I miss something? Did some of these make more sense to you than me? Let me know down below!


The Last Jedi – A Few Thoughts

I finally caved and gave Disney another chance to hurt me inside. They did not disappoint.

There’s plenty of complaints regarding the story, and in most instances I agree with them, but I’m not going to cover that, here; for one, I’m trying to be nice with my spoilers and for another, everyone’s already ranted about them at length, typically since about 3 AM on the 15th of December.

But there are some definite problems with the film in terms of its basic structure and concepts, and that’s what I’m going to discuss here.

First, for the sake of all that is holy, stop trying to be funny! I mean it. There are moments in the original trilogy (and even a couple in the prequel trilogy and Rogue One) that were genuinely funny. Typically they were of the dry sort, natural sounding snark (the best example I can think of is K2S0 asking “Did you know that wasn’t me?” after Jyn blasts some random Imperial droid), but flowed naturally from the character’s natures and the situation. The Last Jedi is full of forced attempts at humor, and what’s worse, they don’t even tend to be that funny if you take them as just jokes rather than part of the narrative. There’s exactly one of those moments that made me laugh, and I was angry at it for making me do it because it was so against the grain of the character as presented thus far and the scene in general. (For those wondering, it’s Hux’s “Do you think you got him?” comment.)

Second, there are so many plot holes and gaps in the logic used that you might as well just watch the pretty lights and ignore anything that’s going on. That’s before you get to the issues with the overall story itself, mind. Just the setup and execution is awful if you stop to think about it, let alone what it’s trying to sell you.

Third, much like Revenge of the Sith, it feels like a whole lot of buildup for things that should be bloody awesome, and just fall flat. It’s not quite on the scale of Obi-Wan vs. Sithbot turning into a lame bike race and ending in blaster fire, but despite plenty of opportunities for epic lightsaber duels or awesome displays of Force witchery, we get one battle royale that feels slow, forced and honestly dull (it makes the fight scene in the arena during Attack of the Clones look awesome in comparison), and some more whinging from Emo Ren and that’s about it.

Last, there’s the Leia problem. Now, admittedly, she died after they were done shooting from my understanding, so perhaps they didn’t see a way to patch this one over… but given their insistence that they will not be using any kind of stock footage or CGI wizardry to have Leia appear in Episode IX, I have to wonder what they think they’re going to do about her. Just kill her off-screen, perhaps mentioned in the title crawl? Have her vanish into Force ghostiness without comment? There are at least two points in Last Jedi where they could have done a quick pickup reshoot and give her a proper sendoff that wouldn’t leave the only remaining option to be “Leia fell into a plothole and isn’t coming back.”

I may not be the audience Star Wars is aiming at anymore. I can accept that. But I still had a small sliver of hope. The Force Awakens, while not amazing in my eyes, was still the best thing to come out of Star Wars since Return of the Jedi.

I kind of agree with Luke’s line from the trailer, here. “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”


Film Review: They’re Watching

Was casting the net about on Netflix, looking for something interesting to watch, when the suggestions coughed up a little flick called They’re Watching; from the description, it sounded like a sort of updated Blair Witch; camera crew heads out and finds more than they bargained for, this footage being their last testament to the world.

Sounded alright, so I clicked. One thing to note, it’s rather long. Just a hair over two hours, I believe. Which is pretty lengthy for a horror flick, especially one that is essentially the work of unknowns. Not an instant “Nope,” but something that bears mentioning, as usually 90 minutes is about as long of a welcome as this sort of material has with most folks.

For the first hour and 45 minutes, I was actually reasonably entertained. The camera work is done well, and because the crew – in this case, employees of a network producing a reality show about worldwide house-hunters and renovators – seem to actually know how to use their toys, we’re treated to far less of the “shaky cam” that usually permeates such fare. When it does happen, it’s because something interesting or exciting is happening, so it actually accentuates the film instead of just leaving you nauseated the entire time. The cast and characters, while being a little stereotypical, are all well done and fit nicely into their roles, and the mystery of just what’s going on is doled out in properly suspenseful nuggets. Perhaps a little slowly – the viewer will likely get to the punchline long before the characters do – but all in all it was done well. It had humor, suspense and a dash of mystery without beating you over the head with any of it.

Then the last fifteen minutes happen, and pretty much crap all over the rest of the movie. It felt like an art-focused director or writer had come to a studio, hat in hand, with an almost finished movie that was pretty good, and asked for some help getting it out there, and the studio execs smiled and nodded and told our little artists that they had a fine movie, one everyone should see… But there’s just this one, really tiny, change they’d like to make. Kay? Then they hired Michael Bay and Paul W.S. Anderson to scribble in an ending to appeal to the mass market and cackled while the original artists recoiled in terror at the abomination that was the result.

I prefer to believe that. It makes it easier. Otherwise I have to think that the same folks who made the first 7/8ths of the movie, the well-done and amusing hour and forty-five minutes that was set to a slow burn with a dramatic reveal that would probably leave all our characters dead and nothing but a black screen to show for it, actually intended for fifteen minutes of massive, badly CG’d explosions of gore that kept making me think of Mortal Kombat fatalities. That those same people who had done such an interesting job with the scene of the stupid Americans defiling a somber funeral, who had perfectly conveyed a party-gone-wrong when the Americans almost bond with the natives and then spoil it by throwing around the wrong word at just the wrong (or right?) time, who had managed to keep a delicious twist properly hinted at and yet not completely blasted out or spoiled before the final reveal, had actually intended for this low-rent, ill-fitting and utterly retarded ending to their masterpiece.

Yeah. I want to believe outside meddling and a second crew tacked that on at the last minute. Because it hurts too much inside otherwise.

Had the movie gone it’s course as the majority of the film seemed to be setting up, I’d easily give it three, edging into four stars. As it is, leaving such a nasty taste in my mouth, it gets two. Barely. And that mainly on the strengths of the first portion, a bitter nostalgia for the film we could have had.

The real thing to consider: Is it worth watching? Well, that depends. How good are you at pausing, pretending something else happened, and skipping the last fifteen minutes? If that’s something you feel you can do in good conscience, then by all means, give it a watch. When the power goes out, just assume our villain dispatches the remainder of the crew while the camera sits on the floor records it all, then snap to black or our villain’s face as they heft the device and cackle into it. You’ll be satisfied.

For those of us who had to be exposed to the telportation, lightning bolts, dudes getting turned into acid-spewing piles of frogs and all the rest, however… No. A million “nopes.” Do not engage.

What about you folks? Have you seen it? What did you think? Let us know in the box below!


Film Review: Lights Out

It’s out! It’s out! Hooray!

But first, watch this:

Pretty freaky, eh? Well, if you enjoy that and enjoy something resembling “purer” horror, that goes back to the plain old fear of what may be lurking in the dark, you might want to give Lights Out a try. The plot bay bludgeon you over the head with simplicity, and the acting won’t be winning any awards, but the straightforward simplicity and easy-to-grasp presentation makes it quite a joy to watch. The fact that it’s mostly done via practical effects instead of digital while still looking suitably disturbing is just a bonus.

Overall high points? Diana is creepy. The actors are, while a little bland, doing at least a passable job, and the interrelationships between them work well enough. The ghost has rules and abides properly by them at all times with no noticeable “But how come it worked that time moments?” that I could detect.

The downsides? The plot is sometimes a little heavy handed. The characters are just plain stupid at certain points. (Notably regarding the absence of a father figure and the use of a UV lamp.) At least one character (we’ll call her Cop #2) falls into a plot hole and never returns. There were a lot of unanswered questions at the end (though, to be fair, that sort of may be the point.) And I want more. I would love to see a prequel centered around Diana and Sophie’s interactions as children. A sequel’s not out of the question, though I don’t know how one would do it without violating some of the rules set forth in this film. Still, I’d probably go see it anyway.

Final word? Best horror film I’ve seen come up in a while. Really the first I’ve been able to enjoy since the Poltergeist reboot. Infinitely better than It Follows, which showed such promise. So go check it out, if horror is your thing. Let me know what you think about it down below.

Until next time, kids.

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