James King, Correspondent
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the most divisive film in the main canon of the franchise. To say that it split the fan base would almost be an understatement. Ever since this movie came out fans have been arguing whether it’s the best or the worst the franchise has put out. Now personally I do have my problems with it, but I feel that it’s a bit overzealous to say that this is a bad movie by any metric. Though, I feel that this movie is all about subverting your expectations as a Star Wars fan, taking what you know about the franchise and flipping it on its head.
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James King, Arts & Entertainment Correspondent
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars movie that has ever come out of the franchise. I know that may sound like an exaggeration, but after catching up with the franchise so far, it has become my favorite entry in the franchise.
Continue reading “Hot Take: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” … the best movie ever?”
James King, A&E Writer
This is the Star Wars movie I’ve been wanting to see since beginning this look at Star Wars movies. It’s not the strongest movie in the Star Wars canon, but after the wasteland of boredom that was the first two movies in the prequel trilogy, it’s definitely the strongest of the three. The movie does have a few big flaws, but its enjoyable enough that I wasn’t as bored by it as I was with the other two prequels. The movie basically is one big action flick, but it was a welcome turn after the first two movies focused on the politics of the characters. This was honestly the only prequel movie I would recommend actually watching, because other than character introductions and set up, it’s the only prequel that really gives any of the characters something to do.
The story in this movie has problems with pacing. Some parts of the movie feel like they skipped over way too fast; like Anakin’s ultimate turn to the dark side or the deaths of the villains. These parts should have held a lot of emotion, but are not set up enough for the audience to really care. The movie also doesn’t give you much time to breathe in between scenes of war and scenes of dialogue. The fast pace does help strengthen the movie, though as it keeps the movie from dragging which has been a major problem in the last couple of movies.
This movie was also one of the better-looking Star Wars, it’s a CGI fest, but it never is as distracting as it was in the Phantom Menace and it has aged pretty well. The beginning war scene is a visual feast with tons of robots flying through space and giant space ships exploding. The dialogue isn’t as strong as it has been in some of the previous Star Wars films. I have problems remembering anything the characters said beyond a few lines from Obi-Wan towards the end of the movie. It’s not enough to drag the movie down, but worth mentioning since the dialogue has been the best part of Star Wars.
It’s not one of the strongest movies, I feel like that honor goes to The Empire Strikes Back. Revenge of the Sith does have some of the strongest acting of the prequels. I wasn’t begging the actors to emote like I was with the first movie or just bored with the acting like in the second. I actually was actually much more engaged with the story this time. It makes me really looking forward to watching the modern Star Wars movies to see how they stack up to the other movies.
I am still not quite caught up with all the movies I still need to watch The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens for that, but it has been fun catching up on the various trilogies. These movies mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Much like the way they describe the force in these movies, they connect people and brings them together.
James King, A&E Writer
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is a better kind of mess than Phantom Menace. With Phantom Menace, I was begging to see characters emote. I wanted something memorable and the movie just left me frustrated. Attack of the Clones is definitely a step up from its predecessor, but not much of one. I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but I wouldn’t call it bad either. It’s just kind of generic and forgettable.
The story is much better involving a duel plot of a who-done-it mystery and Anakin’s turn to the dark side. Though that in and of itself is one of the movie’s problems, as we as the audience know who the bad guy is already so that takes away much of the interest in following the mystery. Anakin’s story doesn’t fare much better as he comes off creepy and even sometimes whiney. The movie does eventually introduce many of the villains, but they come off completely ineffectual because neither are really given enough time on screen to flesh them out. Obi-Wan and the other Jedi felt a lot more fleshed out in this movie though and their dialogue was some of the better in the movie.
This movie also felt like it had a little more of a graphical upgrade. The backgrounds look a lot less bare and the actual war scenes in this movie are fun to watch. You can still see the seams though, especially in the final third of the movie, where most of the movie, is completely CGI. There are a few places here and there where the CGI doesn’t mesh well with the real actors in the case for some aliens and animals. They tend to look videogame-y and lack a lot of detail.
The problems that the movie had though were much less pronounced then they were in the Phantom Menace. I actually had a lot more fun sitting through this, though the movie does drag a bit in certain areas. The love story felt completely basic and felt really unromantic as actors would sprout awkward lines, give one another creepy looks, and just completely lacked any form of chemistry. There was just not much that really wowed me though. The fun dialogue from the previous movies is there, but few and far between. The action scenes in this movie are great, but it’s not enough to keep the movie afloat.
Movies like this are extremely hard to talk about in review form especially when you can’t really drum up any strong emotions tied to the movie. If a movie is bad you can tear it down, you can talk about its story flaws or talk about its visual faults. If a movie is great you can sing its praises and celebrate its visual and story mastery. Movies that fall in the middle of the road just become forgettable. Even writing this review right now, I’m struggling to remember parts of the movie beyond basic beats. That’s where this movie falls, good moments, but ultimately forgettable.
James King, A&E Writer
The Phantom Menace is the most boring movie I have ever seen. I don’t feel like it deserves the hate it gets as a bad movie, but I can certainly see where it comes from. The previous Star Wars movies have had their boring parts, but it made up with it with an interesting world and fun dialogue, but this movie doesn’t do either right. The visuals run the gambit between somewhat interesting and completely boring. Its dialogue had me begging for characters to emote and it’s a chore to sit through and watch.
I’ll start with what I liked about the movie, it isn’t much though. All the familiar things I and most people love in the star wars movies are in it. The costume design is on point especially for Queen Padme who wears amazingly elaborate costumes in every scene that she’s in. The world is colorful with almost every piece of tech, and every alien having interesting and fun designs. The callbacks to earlier (or later since this is the prequel trilogy) characters are fun and nostalgic. The pod racing was a lot of fun and the battles at the end are pretty fun.
Though that’s where my positivity ends for this movie. My biggest complaint about this movie is that the acting is extremely wooden. Every flesh and blood character in this movie feels like their reading their lines just off-screen. The CGI characters actually feel like better actors, because they’re allowed to emote, but some of the CGI hasn’t really aged well, particularly some of the Naboo scenes the backgrounds look blank. The characters have no growth in the movie they end pretty much where they begin for the entirety of the movie, it almost feels like filler. The kind of thing studios put out because they need a tax write off or a movie they need to make to fulfil a contract.
This movie gives me nothing interesting to ponder as an audience member. I wasn’t wowed by the visuals. There are no interesting lines for me to mull over. The action isn’t well choreographed or animated depending on the scene. There is little to no growth for any of the characters and worst of all there is nothing I would say even looked all that cool. It is a wasteland of half-baked ideas, poor writing, and acting.
There are many minor things that fans of the franchise tend to be annoyed by, but didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would. Jar Jar Binks was grating, but I never was all that bothered by the character. The retcon of the force being tied to a person’s cells even made some sense within the universe as not everyone is or can be a Jedi. The Jedi did feel a bit overpowered in this movie though compared to the older movies. None of the droids felt like a threat and even the Sith characters felt completely underdeveloped.
This is one of the few Star Wars movies I have actually seen before, and I honestly remember liking this movie more back then, then I do now. I might be spoiled by superhero movies and more modern CGI, but it came out the same year as the Matrix and Galaxy Quest, movies with CGI that has more or less stood the test of time. It’s a real shame that this movie hasn’t considering the movies made in the late 70s have aged better than the one from the late 90s.