Thursday, September 29, 2016

Star Wars Comics Review/Recap (Spoilers!) – Star Wars #23


Issue number twenty-three of the main Star Wars comic is the third part in the current story arc. We last saw Luke, Han, and Leia on the bridge of the Star Destroyer they stole. In the last issue we didn’t get why they stole the Star Destroyer or even how they survived the reactor blast. This was all explained in non-linear storytelling during this issue. The crew went on the mission to steal the Destroyer to help break up a blockade around Tureen VII, and they survived the blast by jumping to hyperspace as they jettisoned the reactor.

I like this story. I like the setup and the adventure the crew is going on. The execution of some of the interactions between Han and Leia and Luke and Sana seemed forced. Jason Aarron has been fantastic at writing the Star Wars main line, but for this issue there was too much force feeding of the story. I don’t need a line from Sana telling me how much Han and Leia love each other and their fighting is a show of this. If you are reading this comic you know this, just let the interactions speak for themselves. I liked the race Han and Leia had to the bridge to claim being captain of the ship, it was cute and flirtatious, and it should have stood on its own. I’m also not sure if they are trying to set Sana and Luke up as a possible love story or he is just trying to get her to sign up with the Rebellion. I’m thinking tragedy may strike for her though with the arrival of the elite Stormtrooper crew.

The best parts of the issue were some of its humor. The race between Han and Leia was cute, but it seemed out of place when the crew is trying to save themselves and others. It was still nice to see, and there were a few other times I laughed out loud. Chewie and Han and one fantastic interaction. The overall setup for what is to come was also well done. This was mainly a setup issue, and it tried to give us some good moments between Han and Leia. I’m just not sure they were in the right place for the situation the crew found themselves in. I guess one could argue Han trying to make moves on Leia in the belly of an alien on an asteroid wasn’t great timing either. That didn’t seem as forced in like this did though.

Overall this issue didn’t live up to some that have come before it. I’m not sure if it was the non-linear storytelling which gave too much exposition or some of the character interactions. It just didn’t work as well as some of the other issues. With this issue being mostly setup and the arrival of the elite Stormtroopers I expect the next issue to be a return to form, and for a few extremely exciting issues over the next few months.

What did you think of this issue? Did you think the character moments where forced or did you like them? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Star Wars Rebels S3E1 - Steps Into Shadow Recap/Review (Spoilers): Solid...




The first episode of the third season of Star Wars Rebels had about everything a fan of the show or of Star Wars could hope for in a premier. The show started off with a bang and didn’t let up for the entire hour. The introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn as the main villain of the season was handled perfectly. The change in the characters was also handled well for a transition to a new season. Rebels opened overall to a solid effort which leaves me excited for where the show will go during season three.

The best parts of the episode where the action and seeing how much Ezra has progressed with his force powers. Seeing him easily handle anything the Empire threw at him was the perfect way to open up the season. It then transitioned to show the dangerous path he is walking. He controlled the Imperial Walker pilot’s mind and forced the pilot to kill the other Stormtroopers and then sent the Walker over a ledge. It was a great sequence to watch for the action, but also to highlight how Ezra is starting to use the dark side to get jobs done.

One reason Ezra has been able to progress down this path is due to Kanan dealing with the loss of his eyesight. Anyone would be shaken by the loss of their eyesight and Kanan at the start of the season has stopped going on missions and has become reclusive from the other crew. Ezra is shown to be resentful of this fact, and Hera points out that he feels partially at fault for Kanan’s loss of eyesight. Kanan goes on his own journey of discovery and talks to a new interesting force sensitive creature. The new creature, Bendu, tries to show him another way of looking at the force to balance Kanan’s perspective. I’m not sure I completely like the addition of Bendu. The character does fit the overall universe, I’m just not sure it is needed. We know Yoda has reached out to Ezra and Kanan before, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have been used in this scenario instead of Bendu. I guess Yoda has only been able to communicate with them when they have been near a Jedi structure. However, having a strong force sensitive creature living on the world the Rebels set their base up on seems a little to coincidental.

I still liked the interaction Kanan had with Bendu, and it introduces even more grey area for us as fans to consider when it comes to the ways of the force. Everything can be colored and balanced from a certain point of view. The best lines from Bendu were the words of wisdom he imparted about the Sith Holocron. He stated that an object cannot change a person. It is the person who has to change themselves because they want the forbidden knowledge for power or maybe even to try and do good. This was some great Star Wars wisdom to impart and very Yoda like, and also great to include in a show aimed at kids. The idea is a good one. The actions you decide to take throughout life define the person you become. Bendu is a good character, I am just not sure he is needed when you have Yoda lurking around and who has already been used in the show. I also would have preferred Kanan actually going off world in search of peace and balance instead of finding Bendu on the same planet he was on.

The only other small gripe I had from the episode was how whiney Ezra became after the first mission and while he was leading the second mission. He was fantastic during the actual action, but the whiny teen act is a little tiresome for the third season. Granted Ezra is a teenager and this is still a good reflection of how most teenagers might feel and how conflicted they are overall. I just would have preferred it scaled back a bit for this episode.  This was the only part of the episode however which seemed out of place, everything else flowed well and was perfectly paced and explored.

One of the things handled the most deftly is the introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Too much in the first episode and it he might seem incompetent, too little and it ruins the buildup to the season premier. Filoni and team found the perfect balance in the first episode. We saw how cold and calculating he is, and how he plans to draw the Rebels in and bring down their destruction. The crew had to expend a bunch of firepower to recover only a handful used Y-wings, and it might not have been worth the effort. My hope is we get more of Thrawn than we did of the inquisitors last season. He needs to be a constant presence felt the entire season to drive the crew into making mistakes.

Star Wars Rebels hasn’t disappointed in the first two seasons, and the start of the third was more of the same. The introduction of Thrawn was as perfect as it could be, and showing how the two Jedi are handling their current situations was well done. The first episode was simply everything a season opener should be. It gave us reminders as to why we love the show to begin with along with what to look forward to in the future.

What did you think of the season premiere of Rebels? Did you like Bendu? What were some of your favorite moments or least favorite parts? Comment and let me know

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Star Wars Rebels Season 3: Thoughts and Predictions


The first episode of season three of Disney XD’s and Lucasfilm’s hit animated television show Star Wars Rebels drops on September 23. I am nearly as excited for Rebels as I am for Rogue One. This is largely due to the return of one of my favorite characters from the Legends books, Grand Admiral Thrawn. I was a big fan of the old Legend books and own every one book published up until 2001. That may be bit of a dubious honor to admit. Having Grand Admiral Thrawn become cannon again is fantastic fan service for loyal fans of the old books.

Thrawn is one of the biggest draws to the season and I’m excited to see how he’s used. I don’t think Dave Filoni and the story group will use him frivolously, and I don’t think he will be a single season villain. He will be the main villain for the season, and probably defeated, but not killed. I have hopes he may fail to complete his task and the Rebels ultimately succeed in the season, but he is just sent to the outer rim or unexplored space to patrol so he can be used again. The story group might even have Thrawn succeed to a degree against our team of Rebels and end this season on a darker note as Empire Strikes Backs does. This would take guts for a show still primarily aimed at kids, but it still could be done. The possibilities with Thrawn are immense and I am beyond excited he is being introduced to a larger audience who may have never read the legends books.

Besides Thrawn one other major story to follow is Ezra’s path and if he will turn to the dark side. All last season I thought he wasn’t going to turn, but it’s hard to dispute him turning now. The only thing I will offer is that Filoni may be setting us up to think he is going to go dark, and instead have him reject the turn and stay on the light side as Luke does. He is going to flirt with it greatly this season, without a doubt, and be pushed by Maul to embrace dark elements. We have already seen a glimpse of this in a clip from the season where Ezra takes control of a Stormtrooper’s mind who is driving an AT-ST (or an AT-ST like vehicle) and starts killing other troopers while controlling the trooper and the vehicle. While Obi-Wan and other Jedi have influenced the weak minded, they never did anything like this. It may still be a grey area, but it borders on the darker side of the force. I’m still not one hundred percent certain he is going to turn, but it is certainly setup for him too.

Kanan’s loss of eyesight and the struggles he will have to go through will only add to Ezra’s chances of turning. Kanan will have to go on his own journey of discovery after losing his eyesight and won’t be able to help Ezra with his training. I had entertained the theory last year that Kanan would be the Jedi to fall to the dark side after a loss, and the loss of his eyesight might send him down this path. I doubt it, but if Hera were to be killed as well he could be pushed over the edge and Ezra may be the only one to prevent his fall. It would be an interesting twist and one many people would not expect, but I doubt they go down this path with a show whose primary audience is again for kids.

Rogue One could also have an impact on this season of Rebels. I think the first half of the season could focus on the team discovering the Death Star. They set this up last season when they went to Geonosis and found the system devoid of life. They questioned why the system had been eradicated, but it didn’t go any farther than that episode. I think since the team has set up a base they could now start to investigate what the Empire is up to and why they need so many resources. It would be a great tie in for fans of the show if the crew of the Ghost are the ones to discover the building of the Death Star. They don’t have to discover what it does, but just that it exists and know more must be found out about it. The discovery could play right up until the mid-season break and then Rogue One would be released.

The season would still continue, and still take place before the events of Rogue One and Episode Four. The team would just be pulled away from finding more about the Death Star. The last half of the season would be where Thrawn would have the greatest impact, and start to close around the crew of the Ghost. Thrawn could use the crew’s discovery of the Death Star against them and lure them into a trap when they are eager to learn more about the new secret space station. They can go almost anywhere with Thrawn and from the small amount I’ve seen of him it seems they are on the perfect tract for the character.


This season of Rebels has the potential to be the best of the previous two, and that is more because of how well they have built the first two seasons of the show. Filoni has a plan for where the show is going, and he has built the narrative extremely well. The show is simply for Star Wars fans even if it is found on Disney XD. People who haven’t jumped on bored the bandwagon there is plenty of room, and there isn’t a better time to get caught up and enjoy the new season. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Seven Samurai - Movie Review: Still Holds Up




The genesis for the team up movie.

Seven Samurai, the epic film released in 1954, directed by Akira Kurosawa, and starring a host of very talented Japanese actors whose names I don’t feel like butchering. There really isn’t a bad performance from anyone in this sprawling epic. Seven Samurai tells the story of seven roaming samurai who come together to protect a town against a band of raiders. The raiders want to steal the villages food for the winter. The villagers go in search of Samurai to protect their village, but only can offer food for service and not money which many Samurai require to take the job. The seven who end up taking the job have varying degrees of experience, but do their best to ensure the survival of the town.

I’ll admit watching a three hour subtitled black and white film from the 1950’s isn’t for everyone. It takes some commitment to sit down to watch this type of film. There is nothing wrong if someone has no desire to do this, but if you have any curiosity to see where the team-up movie genre came from then this is worth the time and effort. By the end of the film I wasn’t even noticing the subtitles, and was just engaged with the story. The characters and plot maybe standard for some films today, but they get their ques from this movie. I loved all of the characters in the movie, and each one gets their moment to shine within the film. Kurosawa was a masterful director and was able to give each character depth and a purpose within the movie.

I don’t know exactly what I expected the first time I watched Seven Samurai, but it wasn’t the touching and reflective story found within the film. This movie was released nine years after the end of World War 2 and I would be surprised if it didn’t draw some influence from veterans from the war, and what they struggled with. The characters in the film want to help the people, but they feel separated and cannot fully integrate with them. Throughout the story the villagers are both terrified and happy the Samurai are helping them. When they first come to the village they hide the women and children because they are worried how the Samurai will treat them. They are quick to run and ask for their help when a fake alarm is sounded and they think the raiders are on the attack. The warriors are out of place and while they feel the need to be honorable, in the end they are the ones who suffer and lose so the villagers can go on living.

The pacing of the movie is something I was also surprised by. The film didn’t feel like it was three hours long. The only part of the movie which felt to drag just a bit was at the start when the villagers were looking to recruit the first Samurai. This was still interesting and I enjoyed the setup, but it does take some patience since it requires you to read all the dialogue. After this the story is paced in a way that you are never bored while watching. I was invested in each character’s story and wanted to know what would happen when the raiders eventually show up.

The action is of course dated for when the movie was made, but I still found myself on the edge of my seat when the action ramped up. This is accomplished by how well the film built to the ending climax. The Samurai carefully plan their defense and you are invested in seeing if their plan will work out. Each Samurai has their own specific skill set and is put to use during the final battle. I also wasn’t expecting the comedic moments throughout the movie and laughed quite a bit while watching. Toshiro Mifune, arguable the most iconic of the actors to come out of Seven Samurai, has most of the comedic moments and plays them brilliantly. He also is one of the more tragic figures in the film and is able to pull both off throughout the movie.

Seven Samurai is simply just an excellent movie. I understand those who don’t want to watch a movie over three hours with subtitles, but if you are at all curious about the movie give it a chance. If you allow yourself to become engaged in the story the subtitles will disappear and the runtime will go by without notice. It is this good of a movie, and I would watch it again. I freely admit I was hesitant to give the movie a try because of the language, and runtime, but I’m glad I did and I think most will after watching.

Let me know if you have watched Seven Samurai and what you thought. If you haven’t would you consider watching the classic? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekly Trailer Recap: Hodgepodge



There wasn't any real theme to the trailers released this week. We got some Oscar contenders, some January dumps, a few kids movies, and the one millions of women will want to see.

Fifty Shades Darker: 


Well I'll say this, it's popular. The trailer had the most views in one day and broke the previous record held by Star Wars set last year. I didn't see the first movie and haven't read the books. My wife has read the series, but has no desire to see the films, so I won't be watching.

Miss Sloane:



A serious Thank You for Smoking vibe is what I got from watching this trailer. The film is obviously shooting for Oscar buzz, and it could be a great movie. I like Jessica Chastain and if the buzz is good I will probably check this one out. 

Trolls (Trailer #2): 



Hmmm I don't know what to think about Trolls. On the one hand it looks like complete kid nonsense, but then it's from Dreamworks and this could be another Shrek like franchise. The first trailer didn't impress me, but I'll admit I'm a little intrigued. If they can infuse some adult humor throughout the film it could be worth checking out. Who am I kidding my four year old is going to love this and I'll see it regardless. 

Moana:


Moana feels like a classic Disney movie using new animation techniques. I am excited to take the family to see the film, and I might be even more excited to get my hands on the soundtrack which has songs composed by Lin Manuel Miranda. 

Nocturnal Animals: 



I'm intrigued. The cast is fantastic and the story has me interested. Just from the trailer I want to know what Amy Adams' character did to Jake Gyllenhaal's character.  I want to know how much of what was shown was the story he wrote or real life. Guess I'll have to go watch and find out. 

The Bye Bye Man: 



Well it's a horror film being released in January, so It won't be one I'll be seeing. The trailer was trope after trope and nothing original. I understand horror films are easy to make and easy to turn a profit. I hope the people involved make their money back from the film, but I won't be giving any money to it. 

Annabelle 2: 


I didn't know there was an Annabelle film, so the fact that there is an Annabelle 2 is surprising to me. Another horror film, and the first wasn't well received. It isn't getting dumped in January so maybe there's hope for it to be good. I still probably won't see it. 

Bastards: 



Well if there is a runner up to dumping a horror film in January it is dumping a comedy in the month. Maybe this will be a great buddy road trip type comedy, but I don't like that they already anointed it this during the trailer.  Who knows maybe it will be a surprise hit, but if the studio had faith in it they would be releasing it later in the year. 

Flock of Dudes: 


Haven't heard of this film, and it is coming out on September 30th. It looks like a standard buddy film in the eyes of Old School. It looks to have a somewhat funny premise, and has some funny comedians, but I'll still probably pass unless it gets great buzz. 

Ordinary World: 



Well this was an unexpected trailer to see. Billie Joe Armstrong in a movie. It looks like a Bachelor Party like movie, but with a mid-life crisis twist. The best thing about this movie is that Billie Joe is making music for the film. It looks like a fairly typical mid-life crisis family movie, but I'll at least check out the music. 









Thursday, September 15, 2016

Should Independent Movies Release in Theaters and to Rent Simultaneously?




Over the past two weeks I have rented and watched two movies, Blood Father and Imperium, which had limited releases in theaters and are now available to rent on demand. Since there weren’t any movies that looked great in theaters I checked these out instead. I enjoy watching new independent movies this way since they were not playing in my area. Should more Independent movies release on demand while they are still in theaters? Would theaters even allow them to do this and still be played in theaters?

Theaters are not going to want a film to play on their screens if they don’t think people are going to come out to see it. If an independent film releases online at the same time they release to theaters, and theaters turn them down, then they run the risk of not getting the exposure of being in the theaters. I don’t know if this is really a bad thing. Smaller independent movies don’t make much money in the theater and it might be more advantageous to release films digitally and try and promote through those services.  This also has a downside. There are so many movies which come out every week the new independent films which don’t have much buzz can get lost in the shuffle. I can spend an exorbitant amount of time browsing Netflix and Amazon Prime and may not land on an independent film because they don’t get pop up on my suggestions. This could an issue with online stores which allow you to rent movies digitally.

I recently heard a great idea on Collider Movie talk which might make releasing films at the same time doable. If a film is having a limited release in LA and New York let it also be released online for rental. Film nuts like me are going to search out and know about bigger independent releases. If I lived in a bigger city I would go, see them in the theater. Since I don’t and some limited releases never make it to my mid-west city it would be nice if these films were released to be rented digitally at the same time. Doing this would make the film more money and spread word of mouth. I have talked about Blood Father to almost everyone I know recommending they check it out because of Gibson’s performance.

I also think it would be easy for theaters to establish a blackout area. If a movie is playing in a theater within a certain distance from where the person lives, then it could be blacked out from renting it online. If major league sports leagues can do this, so can movie theaters and online stores. Fandango would be perfect to pioneer this type of project. They acquired a movie streaming service where you can rent and buy movies, and they already are a leader in online ticketing. It could work both ways for them. If a movie is not playing in your area, here go rent it from our streaming store. If it is playing, instead of renting these are the show times in your area.

I think the way we currently consume movies is changing. Netflix and Amazon Prime are starting to acquire the rights and produce movies on their own. Beast of no Nation was a fantastic movie to come out last year and it was produced by Netflix. Many theaters wouldn’t show it because it was released online at the same time as it was released to theaters. If Netflix would have tried the blackout idea, then it might have been played in more theaters and maybe more people would have gone out to see it. I think it is great that independent films are getting these opportunities from the streaming services and I hope it continues to give more freedom to artists to create the stories they want to tell.

People say Hollywood only makes remakes or sequels, but there is a vibrant independent film community which is producing original content all the time. I think allowing streaming services to release the films at the same time as they are in theaters could grow the popularity of the films. There were a few times this summer where I wanted to see a movie, but it wasn’t playing in my area. I would have gladly given them my money if it was only available for me to watch. The landscape of streaming and the way movies are viewed and consumed is constantly changing, and I hope it leads to more good films being made.


Let me know your thoughts and if you be more likely to rent a film in limited release on a streaming service or wait for it to come to your area. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weekly Trailer Recap: Oscar Season Starts to Take Shape



This was a great week for trailers, as Oscar contenders are starting to be revealed:

Goat (Red Band):


This one looks interesting. I wasn't in a frat, and never cared to be, but hazing when I was in college was looked upon as harmless fun. With many news stories coming out about college kids losing their lives to hazing incidents there has been a  crackdown. In the trailer the frat looks down upon the new rules imposed. For the new pledges either they participate or not make the frat. I'm interested to see how dark this movie goes and how much it looks at the issue of hazing. 

Collateral Beauty:



Will Smith is going to try anything and everything to get his Oscar.  I admit I was moved by this trailer. Having two children and thinking about losing one is a devastating thought. Writing to the universe for answers doesn't seem like a bad idea to help cope with the loss of a child. The universe actually answering back is where either this movie will succeed or fail. You couldn't have picked a better actress to play death, and if Helen Mirren came to take me to the after life I probably wouldn't mind. I am interested to see a new Christmas Carol type story. It can go either way, too campy or the right amount of emotion. Hopefully it is the latter and Smith gets an Oscar nod if he is deserving. 

Underworld: Blood Wars: 



I have never been a big fan of the Underworld series. This trailer does little to get me excited to see a new one. I loved the concept and was excited to go see the first movie. I was extremely disappointed in the movie. I think my expectations were to high for the Underworld, but I've tried to go back and watch again and I can't get into it. I even tried the second film and couldn't stand it. I won't be seeing this installment, but more power to the fans of the series that keep getting sequels green lit. 

Mr. Church: 



This seems like a cheesy sappy heartfelt movie. There is nothing wrong with these types of films if they are executed well. I want Eddie Murphy to do more work, and actually get back to doing more edgy films than this.  Mr. Church has been getting some early reviews and they aren't positive. I was hoping this would be the good kind of heartfelt story, but early signs point to no. Maybe it still will be worth seeing, but I didn't get that feeling from the trailer. 

Gold: 



This, just all of it. From Matthew McConaughey with a come over and in whitey tighties, to Dallas Howard with 80's hair. This trailer was fantastic and a movie which wasn't on my radar is now a must watch. This trailer did everything right and gave me just enough of the true life tale to get me interested in the story. I'm not sure I will see this on Christmas Day, but I'll be seeing it close to then. 

Live by Night: 


Ben Affleck has turned into a fantastic director and Live by Night looks to be another great film. This is one of my favorite periods of history and I'm excited to see Affleck's take on it. I did think Affleck looked a little out of place as the character in the trailer, but I won't judge until I see the final result. The fact that this movie is going to get a limited release in December and then a wide release in January speaks highly to Warner Brothers faith in the movie. They think it has a big chance for the Oscars and are probably going to push for its consideration. Affleck's first three directorial films have made his movies must watches. 

Free Fire (Red Band): 



This movie debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival this week and was met with a decent reception. It is being called a extremely dark comedy, and I'm all for it. This looks like my type of dark humor and I'll enjoy going to see this film when it is released to a wide audience. Brie Larson was fantastic last year in Room, and I look forward to seeing her in this. 

The Free World: 


I'm not sure about this one. I like Elisabeth Moss as an actress because of Mad Men, but I haven't seen many of her movies. I can't decide from this trailer if this is a film I would want to see. If the film gets some Oscar attention I might check it out, but the trailer did little to get me interested in seeing the movie. 

The Promise: 



Another Oscar Bait type movie. Historical period piece about an oppressed people during World War 2. This doesn't mean the movie will be bad or good, it is just setting itself up for an Oscar push with the talent and the subject matter. I hope it is amazing, because it deals with a part of the world that is looked over during many historical movies set during the time period. It has great talent and a good director, so the film has promise. I am a sucker for historical war movies, and if the reviews are good I'll probably see it. 





Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Wars Comics Review/Recap (Spoilers): Poe Dameron #6


The sixth issue for the Star Wars Poe Dameron comic ends the second story arc for the series. We see the resolution of how Black Squadron escapes the prison with Grakkus the Hut. I’ve have enjoyed the last three issues of the Dameron comic, but this issue makes me a little worried about the series going forward. One of the main reason I didn’t care for the first three issues of the series was it seemed too campy for a Star Wars comic, and the sixth issue had this same feel. This story arc was more entertaining than the first three issues, but maybe I am warming to the tone of the comic.  

The Poe Dameron comic is starting to feel like a Saturday morning cartoon adventure series. This isn’t a bad thing if executed well, and while this issue is still a little rough it is getting better. Maybe I am just realizing what type of story they are trying to tell with this group of characters. I would prefer more of a serious tone, but I have the books and other comics for this. If the writers and the story group think it is a good idea for this comic to be light hearted and fun, then I can get behind it. For the most part this three issue arc is fun, but at times it doesn’t seem to fit into Star Wars.

The main issue I had with this installment was how the droids save the day. I don’t really have an issue with the droid and BB-8 in particular helping save the day, just make it plausible within the overall Star Wars universe. Having BB-8 fight another giant droid just didn’t seem to fit. It was the same issue I had with the first three issue run and having a giant lizard creature hatch out of the egg. It just doesn’t feel like Star Wars. I am all for having fun campy action adventures, but it still needs to connect to all of the other stories.

I did enjoy how Black Squadron escaped. Turning off the gravity field for a high gravity planet was cool to see, and funny. This is what prompted me thinking about the overall tone the comic is shooting for. They want to make it a fun adventure series. This was interesting and I enjoyed how different the escape was from anything we have seen before. This event to counter the lizard and robot still felt like something that could happen within the Star Wars universe.

The ending of the issue was also a little out of place for me. I didn’t understand why Agent Terex would have made the decision to stick around if he knew he couldn’t stand up to X-Wings. He purposefully drew them in for an attack and then didn’t have a plan to actually defeat them. For the character they have been setting him up to be, it was an odd choice. From the first few issues he seems like a planner and someone who is always is in control, and the last part of the issue was a departure from the person portrayed. They seemed to be making him a nuanced villain, but changed to more mustache twirling one for the last part of the comic.

I still have high hopes for this comic. We don’t have much material coming out between Jedi and Force Awakens and I want this to be good. I do think expecting a different tone from now on will help my enjoyment. I do hope they drop some of the outlandish story concepts, and focus more on the team dynamic of Black Squadron. This should be one way to grow and expand on characters in the new cannon. Black Squadron should and could take the place of the old Rogue Squadron from legends. Hopefully it starts to move more towards this.


Let me know if you are enjoying the Poe Dameron comic and the tone or think it is a bit too campy. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

When Should Kids Watch... Blazing Saddles?? - Movie Review




The king of spoof movies first attempt was a grand slam.
Blazing Saddles starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens and Mel Brooks who of course also directed the spoof. Blazing Saddles makes fun of one of the biggest genres of film during the time it was made. Westerns were on their way out in the 70’s as the predominant type of film, and the genre was ripe for a spoof.  Does the comedy still hold up to an audience today? Can kids or at least people of a latter generation appreciate the social commentary the movie provides? What age should kids be introduced to the language and story told in the film?

Blazing Saddles if released today would have gotten a PG-13 rating rather than an R, or maybe not with its use of one word in particular. The movie if made today probably wouldn’t have been able to use the word, but I think the way it is used in the film makes a point. Mel Brooks recently talked about writing the script and getting Richard Pryor’s opinion on its use. He asked Pryor if it was okay for him to say it, and Pryor’s response was you aren’t using it Mel, the bad guys are. Pryor has a credit for the screenplay on the film and was originally cast as the sheriff, but the Warner Brothers was wary of using him in the role. There is little other language to be concerned about in movie other than the word I’m being so cryptic about. I think the use of the word is a good conversation starter with older children about its history, and all the baggage behind it. When kids are introduced to the movie it should be discussed why people shouldn’t use the word, or at least why my particular skin pigment shouldn’t. I think Blazing Saddles uses it to great affect and uses it in a way to highlight why it shouldn’t be used. It is played for jokes in the film, but in a biting satirical way, to highlight how hurtful it can be. The scene with the old women using it and then apologizing is a fantastic example of how it is used well.

Little else in the movie garners a nod as problematic for children. The action and violence are not a factor for letting younger kids watch. The ending fight sequence does have fist fighting, but it is so over the top it is no worse than any Saturday morning cartoon, or at least Saturday morning cartoons from my childhood. I love the looney tunes gag Bart uses against the Mongrel, and it makes me laugh every time I watch the movie. At every turn Bart figures out a way to overcome his situation and make the best out of it. He beats the Mongrel not by strength but by smarts, and continually does this throughout the movie. He disproves many stereotypes along the way, or at least stereotypes during the time the movie was made.

My biggest worry about introducing anyone to Blazing Saddles is them not understanding many of the jokes found in the film. The movie is a spoof on the Western Genre, and the entire story is a gag on the typical plot told in the classic Westerns of the fifties and sixties. Since Westerns are not a popular genre of film today many of the jokes poking fun at the clich├ęs may fall flat on a modern audience. It might be worthwhile to introduce kids to other classic Western films, and then have them see Blazing Saddles to get more of the jokes.  It could be a barrier for enjoyment for people who have not watched many Westerns. I do still think there is enough in the movie to be enjoyed by all. People of any age can laugh at the iconic campfire scene.

What shouldn’t be lost on any generation, and is still prevalent today, is the commentary the film has on social issues. I don’t want to get political, but I’ll simply say the country has come a long way even since this film was made with racial issues. To deny this is to deny facts. We have an African American president and many things have improved with racial issues since the 70’s. On the flip side to say there aren’t still prevailing problems which need to be addressed is also to deny facts. This is one reason why this film should still be watched.  The biting social commentary the movie pokes fun at should be examined. Even when this film was made it would have been odd to see a black sheriff in some communities. It probably would even be odd in a few still today. This is the one aspect of the movie which holds up and will continue to hold up. Hopefully though this social commentary will eventually be lost on later generations and have to be explained and researched to be understood.

With all of this being said, I think kids should be introduced to Blazing Saddles at an older age to fully grasp everything going on in the film. An older audience is needed to properly understand its historical context, and apply it to current events. Yes it is a silly western spoof, but the film does have things to say. The fact that many of the western jokes may be lost on a current audience is one reason I think older kids or people in general will get more out of the film. I think a person could be introduced Blazing Saddles anywhere from 13-16 years old depending on the kid. A fan of history or a fan of the Western genre may have more fun with the movie before others would. I love this movie, and it gets better with every viewing. The performances are great and I’m excited to eventually introduce my boys to the movie.

When would you introduce your kids to Blazing Saddles? Do you think the spoof jokes would be lost on a modern audience? If you don’t have kids when was the first time you remember watching Blazing Saddles? Did you like it the first time you watched? Comment and let me know.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Blood Father - Movie Review: Can Gibson Still Draw an Audience?




Did Gibson try to make some sort of apology for his actions with his character in the opening monolog?

Blood Father starring Mel Gibson, Erin Moriarty, Diego Luna, and directed by Jean-Francois Richet. The story is about an estranged father, played by Gibson, who tries to protect his daughter from the Mexican drug cartel. It is a fairly simply story, but executed very well. I understand not wanting to see a new Mel Gibson movie because of what he has said and done, but for me I’m okay with watching a new film. I still can watch and not agree with what he has done. Maybe some will think letting him come back from Hollywood obscurity as acceptance of his action, but I don’t. He does good work, and Blood Father is another example of how talented the man is.

Gibson makes this movie. He holds the film together with his strong performance. The story is standard and so is most are most of the other performances. Gibson portrayal as the former biker John Link is nuanced and believable. Gibson makes you believe he is a down on his luck recovering alcoholic who wants nothing more than to find his daughter. Gibson has always had expressive eyes, and he conveys the loss he feels for not knowing his daughter simply by his expressions. It also doesn’t hurt that Gibson can play a character just on the edge of sanity, with only a slight push sending him over the edge. There isn’t much on the surface of the character, and there probably wasn’t much in the script, but Gibson adds layers with his performance.

Erin Moriarty does a good job playing the distressed daughter. I’m not sure I liked her portrayal as someone coming down off a high. I can’t honestly say if her portrayal is accurate. I’ve never been around people coming off of Meth or people on Meth, so she could have done a good job. She was manic, and I’m guessing that might be partially accurate. I’m also not sure about the development of her character. At certain points of the film they hint at her being very intelligent, but then follow this up with her making stupid decisions. Her story arc is predictable, but I’m not sure it is fully earned with the script. I needed more development of her being an intelligent person with some more backstory. I also wouldn’t have minded some more story with her and the boyfriend played by Diego Luna.

Blood Father knows what type of movie it is though, and it sticks to its story and takes you on a fun ride. The movie isn’t action packed, but builds tension well and does develop a good relationship between Link and his daughter.  When the action does happen it pays off well. The pacing of the movie is really well done and I never felt bored while watching. At one point I had to pause my rental and I didn’t want to. The movie holds your attention and you want to know what happens next. Blood Father while still billed as an action movie, really doesn’t have over the top sequences, but the scenes it does have are fun and well done. This small contained story does exactly what it’s supposed to, keep you entertained and invested in the main characters.

The only minor story or character complaint I have is the sequence at the biker ranch. I don’t think the sequence fit into the overall flow of the movie, and it seemed to be just another sequence to let Gibson go a little crazy. Michael Perks character, The Preacher, just doesn’t fit into the movie. The scenes at this point in the movie just didn’t make much sense in the overall storyline. Maybe there are scenes missing with Perks and Gibson which would have made this sequence fit. The scenes weren’t bad, but it just didn’t mesh well with the other parts of the story. I don’t think the events which happen at the ranch were needed for the main story.

Blood Father is simply a well-made enjoyable action film If you are okay with watching Mel Gibson in a movie again, then I would suggest checking it out. It does try to hit on remorse and loss, but not enough to really be noticeable. The film overall just looks good. Richet did a great job of capturing the film and creating a great tone from the surroundings and action he captured. This one is worth seeing and it might actually be worth buying when it is available. At the moment you can only rent it digitally, but I can see it growing legs if it gets picked up by a streaming service. It’s worth checking out if none of the current releases in the theaters look entertaining.

If you have seen Blood Father let me know what you thought. Do you think this is the start of a Gibson come back? Comment and let me know. If you haven’t seen it, let me know what your favorite Gibson film is. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Weekly Trailer Recap: Come on, You know you want to watch Max Steel.



This week was a little light on trailers. There wasn't any major new blockbusters or indie darlings trailers released. Just minor independent films or a studio production which don't look worth the time.

Cardboard Boxer: 


This is a small independent movie which is getting a theatrical and video on demand release at the same time. The story presented in the trailer didn't catch my interest, but I do like the actors. It seems to be a fairly standard homeless person redemption story, but those are worthy stories to tell. I might at some point check it out if there is some positive buzz around it.

31: 


I think people fall into two camps with Rob Zombie films, you either like them or hate them. I liked House of 1000 corpses and The Devil's Rejects. This is a little odd since I'm not a huge horror fan, but I found the gory crazy movies interesting to watch. I never saw his version of Halloween, but it probably wasn't a smart decision to bring his brand of filmmaking to the main stream. I probably will eventually check 31 out just because I enjoyed his other work, and this looks to be a return to form. 

Shut In: 


The only reason I am somewhat intrigued by this horror film is due to Jacob Tremblay. He was outstanding in Room, and I almost want to see this film simply because he is in it. It looks like a fairly simply horror film, and not one which usually catches my interest. I probably won't end up seeing this one for this fact, but if the reviews are good I might check it out because Tremblay is in it. 

Max Steel: 


This film looks like it belongs on the CW as a television show and not a feature film. Maybe comparing it to the CW superhero shows isn't fair, because those shows are actually well done, and this looks horrible all the way around. The only reason I would watch Max Steel is for the "It's so bad it's good factor." The line delivery in the trailer is horrible even from established actors like Andy Garcia. There was major exposition dumps in the short trailer, so I can't imagine what the film will be like. Maybe this will have an audience and fans of the show will go see it, but this has major bomb all over it. 

Certain Women: 



Certain Women looks like a typical Oscar Bait movie. It has good talent, and a story which looks to contiplaint relationships and life in general. I like movies in this genre, but I'm not sure this one will be a hit or one I would watch. The trailer didn't give me enough of what the driving story was going to be or if any of the characters were going to interact. I will probably wait for more reviews and see if it the film gets some Oscar buzz before I decide to check it out. 


USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage




I like war films and I like Nicholas Cage, so this should be a can't miss right? After watching the extremely long three minute trailer I can say I don't want to see this film. The trailer seemed to drag, which makes me worry about the the movie as well. Maybe the film will be edited well and the pace will move quickly, but then they should have put together a better trailer. The movie looks slow and plodding and other than the men surviving against shark attacks not very exciting.
The trailer starts out by showing the atomic bomb being loaded on the boat. Then it transforms into a survival story, and then they throw in something about honor among enemies. There was too much going on in this trailer, and it lost me. Maybe the film will get some good buzz and I'll reconsider, but this trailer turned me off from wanting to see the movie.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Streaming Spotlight: Hush - Movie Review




Well it is an interesting concept for a thriller.
Hush starring Kate Siegal, John Gallagher Jr. and directed by Mike Flanagan. Hush was released earlier this year as a Netflix original film. The movie is a standard suspense thriller with a unique twist. The main heroine is deaf. This adds more suspense to many of the scenarios of the film. With another suspense thriller, Don’t Breathe, being released, which has a blind man as the main villain, I thought checking out this movie would be timely. Hush is a simple movie, but effective in the story it wants to tell.

The movie starts with a basic setup. We learn the layout of the house the main character Maddie lives in. We see many of the callbacks which will be used later in the film for Maddie’s protection and survival. The initial reveal of Maddie being deaf is handled well within the film. The opening shot sequence is well done and brings you into the movie. We get some basic information about Maddie and her neighbor. The film quickly progresses past the opening and builds tension and suspense.
The antagonist is quickly introduced and he is for the first part of the film frightening. You never do find out his motivations, other than he is a psychopath who wants to kill people. This works for these types of movies, but I do wish he would have left the mask on the entire movie. They tried at first it seemed to establish him as a Michael Myers or Jason. I think the film would have been even more terrifying without him ever saying a word. We didn’t get this and John Gallagher Jr. did a good job of playing the demented villain for the film. I believed he was crazy and capable of the things he did in the movie.

Kate Siegal also does a good job in the movie playing a person trapped in her house. She plays every emotion well and you do believe the terror she feels throughout the film. I liked most of the ideas she had to escape and they felt natural to the story. There were a few times where Maddie decides on a course of action which doesn’t make sense. This is one reason I don’t usually like this types of films. I don’t understand when characters make ludicrous decisions just to further a plot or scenario. Hush only did this with Maddie to a minor degree, and one could equate some of the poor decisions to the character’s stress.

The main issue I did have with the film was the generic way the second half of the story developed. The setup with Maddie was great, and the added element of her being deaf built on the tension and plot. Flanagan seemed to go away from the concept during the second half of film and fell into standard suspense tropes. I was hoping Maddie would turn the situation on its head and start terrorizing the attacker. This might have been wishful thinking, but it’s what I was hoping for.

The ending still had me guessing at the conclusion. I wasn’t sure which way they were going to go with. For a fairly standard second half of a movie the ending execution was well done to still have me guessing. I don’t want to say too much more than this other than it did have me wondering what the overall ending of the film would be. The scenarios they set up during the movie were done so you didn’t know the eventual conclusion.

Hush is a very competently made suspense horror thriller. The tension ramps up when it’s supposed too, and the bad guy is sufficiently creepy to evoke terror. The added setup of the main character being deaf was good for the start of the movie, but doesn’t play as much into the ending. The movie is worth watching if you enjoy a suspenseful movie, just don’t expect anything too out of the ordinary in the story. For a movie released on Netflix I feel it has a higher quality than many of the films released in theaters today. It’s worth checking out if you have ninety minutes to kill and want to be entertained.

Have you checked out Hush on Netflix? If you have what did you think? What is your favorite Netflix original content? They have a bunch to choose from. Comment and let me know. Mine probably would have to be Stranger Things after binging that series. 
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