Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review: The Last Jedi

I just got home from seeing an early screening of Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, and if I could sum up my thoughts and feelings in a single word, it would have to be… unsatisfied.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie, with stunning visuals, good pace, spot-on comedy, and of course John Williams’ classic handiwork on the score, but while I enjoyed it during the act of viewing, when the end credits began to roll, I found myself staring at the screen and wondering what was missing.  There won’t be any spoilers in this review, so don’t worry on that front. I’ll be discussing this in a more abstract way, and arguing with people who have seen the movie about the fine details.

One of the biggest criticisms of The Force Awakens I heard from people is that Rey is a ‘Mary Sue’.  A character who can do no wrong and excels at everything she attempts. As one might have already gathered from the trailers, The Last Jedi disabuses us of this notion. She remains the same character, but circumstances change and she finds herself in scenarios that show us her flaws and weaknesses. This is a positive thing for her development arc, and yet I find myself more disappointed by the choices she makes now, as a more fully-fleshed character, than I did in The Force Awakens.

The other big attack on VII was that it was nothing more than a retread of IV: A New Hope. If you’re in that camp, I’m afraid you’re in for more of the same; The Last Jedi covered a lot of ground that had already been covered in both V: The Empire Strikes Back and VI: Return of the Jedi. I defended The Force Awakens because I felt that a little retreading and fanservice was useful, even needed, to reboot the Star Wars universe. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and said I would render a more final judgement after Episode VIII. Well, VIII has come and gone, and I’m left feeling the fool. Again, there was a great deal to like about this movie, but the plot beats, and even some of the scenes and shot choices, were ripped directly from Episodes V and VI.

It wasn’t so far gone as to make me lose my hope for the series. After all, they’ve run out of old movies to copy, since they de-canonized the prequels, so anything they make now must be new material, new ground. This movie did, however, suffer from being the middle of a new trilogy. Unlike The Empire Strikes Back, held in many circles as the greatest of the original trilogy, The Last Jedi fails to offer us anything concrete to carry into the next movie. The plot twists and character arcs were either deliberately unresolved or simply not well fleshed-out, so the entire movie ends up building a sense of anticipation that never really pays off.

Despite all this, I would give The Last Jedi an 8/10. There were enough moments with emotional impact to keep me invested, and the humor knew exactly when and where it should be, and showed itself in those places and only those places. Once again, I find myself in the position of saying, “Well, we’ll see if it all pays off with the next movie,” and tenuously defending Disney’s choices while hoping they know where they’re headed; sadly, with Carrie Fisher’s passing, and the subsequent rewrite of Episode IX that that forced, I’m beginning to question whether they can pull it off. They cleaned up some of the questions surrounding the first movie, only to generate another batch, and personally disappointing me in a few specific ways.

See you in two years, when I decide whether or not Disney was able to pull together a trilogy that matched or even outshone the original.

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Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

I’m sure you’ve all seen the commercials for Edge of Tomorrow.  If you haven’t, watch it right now.

When I saw trailers, I expected it to be fairly good, but I was skeptical that it would be done well.  As it turns out, my skepticism was unfounded.

I saw a pre-screening of Edge of Tomorrow, and it more than lived up to the trailers.  The exo-suits were awesome, the ‘Live, Die, Repeat’ theme was used expertly, both for comedic and dramatic purposes, and the acting was (surprisingly) very good.  Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt put on an excellent performance with well-written dialog, in a world full of amusing characters.

One big problems a lot of science-fiction has is over-explaining things.  No, I don’t want to spend twenty minutes listening to you explain the backstory of the aliens and how we’ve developed weapons to stop them.  Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t have that problem.  It drops you into the story and lets you figure things out alongside Tom Cruise’s character.

The movie has a few holes in it (though to be fair, what movie doesn’t?), but it manages to maintain the suspension of disbelief and immersion throughout.  I also avoids the sort of deus ex machina that these movies tend to end with.  It was close to two hours of non-stop entertainment, with action and comedy and sheer sci-fi awesomeness.

I would recommend everyone go see Edge of Tomorrow.  95/100

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Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

“Fee. Fi. Fo. Fum.

Ask not whence the thunder comes.”

So begins Jack the Giant Slayer, a movie coming out on March 1st, which I was fortunate enough to pre-view tonight.

First thing I’ll say is, this is not the Jack your parents read you nursery stories about.  As the name might imply, this movie is the big-brother version of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and should be treated accordingly. No profanity that I remembered, and no sexuality (the two of which would make me recommend this movie even if it had only been mediocre).  What makes this movie mature is the violence.

Now, it’s not overly gory (though there is some small amount of squick factor), but, as we all know, giants ‘grind your bones for their bread’ and the like. That’s a part of this movie, though not ever explicitly shown on screen.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I will say that Jack the Giant Slayer is one of the best movies I’ve seen recently, certainly far better than the commercials made it out to be.  It built up to an initial conflict about half an hour into the movie, while giving back story and character exposition, and the action doesn’t let down until the end.  Surprisingly, it manages to hold the thrill all the way through and even escalate it for the final confrontation.

I’d also like to recognize Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan in Star Wars II and III, the only decent actor in those movies), for his excellent supporting role in this movie.  He made me laugh and cheer at all the right times.

I won’t go into too much more detail without spoiling it, but suffice it to say that this children’s bedtime story has been retold as an epic fantasy adventure that would rank high on any list I make.  10/10

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