I’m done m8
I don’t know why i keep waiting for good things to come from Stars Wars, but they got me i guess
Not sure if that means you think it is good, or you’ve been had.
People who don’t like The Last Jedi are bad people.
The only good thing about it is the Kotor 2 story
Star Wars: Episode VIII | Rian Johnson | 2017 | USA | 152 min | Action | Adventure | Fantasy
To say that expectations were space-high for Star Wars: The Last Jedi would be putting it mildly; as the 2nd episode of the new trilogy, everyone seemed to wonder, would director Rian Johnson continue with the fun but fundamentally play-it-safe nature of Force Awakens that was oh-so JJ, and be content to just trace over the outline of the ultimate trilogy middle chapters of all trilogy middle chapters, The Empire Strikes Back, and doom this particular trilogy to never truly outgrowing the original’s iconic shadow, or would Johnson try for something more challenging, more daring, like Empire did back in its day? Well, while Last Jedi will inevitably draw comparisons to its equivalent in the OT (granted, sometimes to its detriment), I’m happy to say that, like its new generation of heroes and villains, it finds a way to honor and respect what its legendary predecessors created, while also forging more of its own path forward.
The Last Jedi follows parallel story threads, with the forces of The First Order launching an initially devastating assault on the vulnerable New Republic, and then pursuing the surviving forces for the rest of the film, a plot that’s intercut with a young Jedi apprentice training with an old, sometimes-reluctant teacher in the mysterious, sometimes-frightening ways of The Force, just like in, well, Empire. However, Jedi distinguishes itself both from the often derivative elements of Force Awakens by telling a more subversive, surprising story, less reliant on pure nostalgia, as well as distinguishing itself from the overall Star Wars saga through its greater sense of moral ambiguity, especially through its demythologization of the last Jedi himself, Luke Skywalker.
When Rey (and we) first see him, Luke is a weary, grey-bearded, grizzled old man, living as a hermit near an ancient Jedi temple in the middle of space-nowhere, his only company being the local wildlife, and the aliens who look like a cross between a nun and giant toads that maintain the ancient structures there. He is a far cry from the beaming, triumphant hero we last saw onscreen 34 years ago, and when Rey finally hands him the lightsaber that belonged to his father, in the hopes of being trained as the first of a new generation of Jedi, Luke immediately throws it away like its yesterday’s garbage, and tells her to leave his island immediately. And, while such reluctance is somewhat to be expected, as it would be narratively dull if Luke just immediately acquiesced to every one of Rey’s wishes (and Yoda behaved similarly when he first met Luke in Empire), what I didn’t expect was just how defeated and downtrodden Luke turned out here, as, even after he agrees to teach Rey, he only does it to try to show her why the Jedi must die as a way of life, which, combined with rather disturbing revelation that arises from his past here, really surprised (and pleased) me, just how dark Rion was willing to go with his arc.
It’s a daring spin on a classic, iconic hero, one that seems to be splitting the Star Wars fanbase so far, but one that I appreciate for its unwillingness to coddle us as viewers, and let us not forget, Empire itself received a mixed reception from both fans critics upon its initial release, and now almost everyone agrees that it’s the greatest Star Wars, so let’s just wait and see the verdict that film history ends up passing on TLJ, shall we? Anyway, besides that, Rion Johnson continues the trend of Force Awakens in making The Force itself a more mysterious and ethereal, well, force, than the disappointingly literal treatment Lucas gave it in the Prequels, through a series of intriguing psychic conversations that occur between two certain characters here, as well as actually making The Force seem more accessible to the random “nobodies” of the galaxy, as you’ll see, and that’s all the detail I’ll go into on those points, lest I spoil the film even further for you.
And, outside of the Force-related shenanigans here, the film’s other main plot thread of the scant remnants of The New Republic in constant pursuit by The New Order, their numbers steadily dwindling as the film goes on, is, for the most part, tense, desperate, and above all exciting, with some of the better scenes of combat seen in any Star Wars to date, with a certain subplot involving a new, seemingly cowardly Rebel Admiral taking an unexpected turn, further reenforcing the film’s overall ambiguity when it comes to its various characterizations. I mean, don’t get me wrong or anything, as The Last Jedi is hardly a perfect film; it’s overlong by at least 15 minutes, with one too many climactic battles, some of its comedic relief moments feel a bit forced and unnecessary, and its story doesn’t always unfold as smoothly, as it should’ve, with a particular side-story during the middle act that could’ve easily been altered, or better yet, erased from the film entirely. However, all that being said, this still a very rousing, borderline mythic piece of pop-storytelling, a vital new continuation of what is surely the defining film series of all time, and a work that leaves me more hopeful than ever before for the future of these films; may The Force be with it, indeed.
Strange to read the conversation around this movie being about how it has some hidden meaning behind it when I came out of the theatre disappointed by how obvious it was.
saw black panther this afternoon, going to see three billboards tonight what a day
Black Panther | Ryan Coogler | 2018 | USA | 134 min | Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
The issue of minority representation in popular culture is more important than ever before in this particularly divisive moment in American history, but it remains just as much of a double-edged sword as ever as well; on one hand, while it is important to have high-profile blockbusters made with someone besides yet another Caucasian protagonist as the star, it’s still just as essential for the film in question to actually live up to its full potential as a work of cinema, and not just try to coast through on the strength of some mindless notion of Hollywood tokenism. Diversity’s important, but it doesn’t matter much if all you do with it is just make the same basic thing everyone else was already making, y’know (coughWonder) Fortunately, while it’s still a shame that it took the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the undisputed preeminent film franchise of our time, a full decade before they finally gave one of their black heroes a solo starring outting of his own, it’s finally arrived to us in the form of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, a spectacular work that manages to be reverent love letter to the rich, historical culture of Africa, an unabashed expression of explicit black pride and perspective, and and a riveting, rousing comic book tale, all in one.
The titular “Panther” of the film is the hero of Wakanda, a fictional country in the heart of Africa where, centuries ago, a meteorite composed of the alien super-metal “vibranium” landed, and enabled the Wakandan people to develop wondrous technologies far, far in advance of the rest of the world, which has allowed the tiny nation to remain isolated from the problems faced by the rest of the continent (and indeed, the entire world) underneath the (holographic) front of being just some 3rd-World African country. However, just as Prince T’Challa, son of T’Chaka, takes up the mantle of King of Wakanda, in addition to becoming the new Black Panther following the tragic death of his father (as seen a couple of years ago in Captain America: Civil War), a new challenger to his throne arises, one created from a lifetime of hatred and bloodshed, and born from a long-buried sin of the father, and who will set the stage for a conflict that will not only rock the long-stable, vibranium-infused foundations of Wakanda to their very core, but those of the entire world as well.
But, those fearing that the jaws of Panther might try to bite off more than it can chew need not fear, as Coogler keeps the focus here on clear, engaging plotting and intimate, relatable personal drama, and not messy battle scenes or noisy, CGI-laden visuals (although there’s still plenty of special effects trickery here, naturally). There is some James Bond-ian globetrotting in Black Panther, especially during a sequence that takes place in an underground, high-rollers casino in South Korea, which culminates in a pretty sweet fight/shootout which transitions into an even cooler car chase throughout the streets of Busan, but most of the film’s strength derives from the palace intrigue that arises from the surprisingly Shakespearean power struggle amongst the royal family of Wakanda, sparked by Michael B Jordan’s psychotically arrogant antagonist “The Killmonger”, a kill-crazy villain with a long, long-buried personal beef with T’Challa himself, a plot to start a bloody worldwide uprising by arming the African diaspora with the impossibly advanced weaponry of Wakanda, and who receives a refreshingly large amount of character development and sympathy from Coogler here (at least, he gets as much sympathy as such an blatantly evil character could, but that actually just adds more drama in the film’s favor anyway, and doesn’t detract from it in the slightest).
In addition to that, I have to note that, while this may sound weird, Black Panther on a whole is just really refreshingly, er… black, even by the standards of a black superhero film (not that there’s many more of those out there to compare this to, unfortunately). Of course, it stars a black actor in the form of Chadwick Boseman, and was both written and directed by black men, but in addition to that, at least half of the film takes place within the borders of Wakanda, which is, admittedly, a fictional country in Africa, but one whose creation takes undeniable inspiration from the various cultures, languages, and customs of the entire continent as a whole, in an affectionate cinematic love letter to pan-African culture in general, and whose inhabitants are portrayed by an absolute murderer’s row of talent of African descent, including Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, and Danai Gurira, who makes a strong impression here as the leader of Wakanda’s special forces, the Dora Milaje, a unit of bald, vibranium spear-wielding female warriors, adding some more great representation of strong female characters to a film that was already packed to the teeth with them.
And, finally, Black Panther excels through one of the least likely things for a superhero film to be good at, which is its unflinchingly political social commentary, which addresses the long, traumatic history of discrimination and oppression the African people have faced for centuries from more powerful countries elsewhere in the world. I mean, Killmonger’s entire master plan here is to overthrow the white powers-that-be worldwide by arming local people of African descent, which is some incredibly on-the-nose commentary, yes, but its rendered all the more effective for its bluntness, which is something that you have to applaud Marvel Studios for letting Coogler include in their $200 million, four-quadrants superhero blockbuster. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a perfect film; the pacing is occasionally sluggish, the action scenes are sometimes fairly incoherently filmed, and the effects during some of the more superpowered moments are rather weightless, especially during the climatic battle. All that being said, however, Black Panther still excels in the end as a rousing tale of African superheroics, an unabashed cinematic statement of black pride at a time when we need it more than ever.
I watched the first two episodes of the Jessica Jones season two yesterday. Half of the time felt like filler material. I hope the pacing picks up soon.
A Quiet Place | John Krasinski | 2018 | USA | 90 min | Drama | Horror | Thriller
Imagine, if you will, a post-apocalyptic world, one of what is literally deathly silence, where making any kind of noise that is even just remotely loud immediately causes your quick and grisly death. Imagine that you have to live the entire rest of your life this way, while also having to care for and protect your entire family, which of course, means living with four other people (including a couple of very young children) who can potentially produce an unintentional noise, and get every single one of you killed in the blink of an eye. Now imagine that your wife will soon give birth to a squirming, screaming baby, with only a couple of weeks left for you to to find a way for her to safely (which, in this case, means silently) give birth, all while keeping everyone involved, above all things, quiet. Well, John Krasinski has imagined such a world for us in the superb A Quiet Place, a movie that expertly blends an irresistable, high-concept gimmick with a consistently tense and thrilling execution, resulting in a combination of visceral, B-movie thrills with A-movie craft that is disappointingly rare to encounter in modern film.
When it comes to the film’s story, I already described pretty much everything you need to know about the film’s plot, and, while there are a few important specifics that haven’t been mentioned yet (the most important of which being the daughter’s hearing impairment, which justifies the entire family being proficient in sign language, a skill that, of course, helps explain how they’ve improbably survived so long), for the most part, A Quiet Place is a very simple, straightforward film, one that’s mostly distinguished by its central gimmick of mysterious, hideous monsters that hunt people exclusively by sound, both in its (literally) quieter first half, and its relentlessly escalating, unbearably intense finale. Whereas it’s easy to imagine a less dedicated filmmaker merely using the idea for an occasionally cheap jump scare, and forget about it completely the rest of the time, Krasinksi goes all the way here with Place’s “silence is survival” conceit, placing a refreshingly restrained and mature emphasis on almost completely non-verbal storytelling, carefully focusing every single scene and moment around a constant awareness of every potentially life-ending noise the characters are making,
Krasinski retains a certain, strong discipline around his practical executions of the idea, showing us how the family gets around their farmland in silence by walking barefoot ontop of paths of freshly laid sand, or a moment when the son lets out a long pent-in yell of joy when he’s led to a cacophonous, noise-masking waterfall in the woods, or when the mother and father (portrayed by Krasinski and his real-life spouse Emily Blunt) use a pair of shared earbuds to enjoy a romantic dance while listening to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”, a lovely moment of sound in world that’s turned into one big silent Hell. Of course, that isn’t to suggest that such pathos are one of A Quiet Place’s main strengths on the whole, as a few of the more personal, emotional moments among the family here either feel a bit like shoehorned afterthoughts, or are simply just not developed at all (the ending in particular finishes on a rather sudden, “cutesy” little audience-pleaser note, rather than with a more thoughtful, reverent direction I feel would’ve suited the film better).
That being said, the film still finishes strong with its 2nd half, which is basically a non-stop domino effect of narrow escapes and unabashed creature feature scares, delivering the kind of guttural, horrifically tense thrills that were mostly (and smartly) denied to us during the film’s almost completely silent opening act, as we marvel in fear at just how the family can possibly escape whatever latest, horrible situation they find themselves trapped in. One horrific turn just leads to another which inevitably leads to another, with the final 45 minutes of a Place containing FAR more sheer terror and excitement than the vast majority of other Horrors can deliver in 2 hours and some change. Some occasionally sloppy details aside (so how and when did that water main get busted, anyway?), A Quiet Place was a great time at the theater, and already a strong contender for best Horror movie in a year that isn’t even halfway over yet; unlike the characters here, don’t be afraid to spread the word.
Avengers: Infinity War | Anthony Russo, Joe Russo | 2018 | USA | 149 min | Action | Adventure | Fantasy
After nearly 20 films, over 14 billion dollars (and counting) in worldwide box office totals, and a full decade of existence, the “MCU” (or in full, the Marvel Cinematic Universe) certainly has very little to prove to anyone anymore (at least, not to any Disney shareholders); it’s the highest-grossing film franchise in history by a magnitude of billions, the first (and still only) modern example of a consistently successful “cinematic universe” coming out of Hollywood, and with multiple, in-development projects slated until 2020 (and surely far beyond that), this universe shows no earthly or astrological sign of slowing down. So, with the release of the latest entry of the MCU’s flagship, mega team-up franchise Avengers: Infinity War, the question isn’t whether or not it will be successful beyond our wildest dreams (because it’s already had the biggest opening weekend of all time), or even really whether or not it’s worth seeing, but rather, just how good is it? Well, my answer to that all-important query would be “pretty good”, and actually better than the other Avenger films.
You see, despite the sensible decision on the part of Marvel Studios to replace a recently scandalized, franchise-weary Joss Whedon with the directorial team of the Russo brothers, who saw significant success with their grittier, more action-oriented takes on the last two Captain America outings, the talented duo still struggle to fit every single character, side quest, and MCU easter egg properly into Infinity War, even with the luxury of a runtime that stretches on for over 2 & 1/2 hours. The scene-to-scene pacing is often rather nonexistent here, going mindlessly from one moment to the next without ever slowing down and giving the film (and us) a chance to breathe, certain characters completely disappear from the plot for what felt like (and possibly was) hours, and the overall tone of the film wavers uncomfortably between the sort of quippy, rapid-fire, light-hearted goofiness that has come to be expected of a typical Marvel film and feels somewhat studio-mandated here, and the sort of momentous, larger-than-life gravistas that this particular story practically begs for, and the two sensibilities often grapple with each other here to the detriment of the other.
That being said, despite the overall inconsistency of Infinity War in certain regards, the Russos do often deliver the sky-high sense of danger and drama that is necessary here, which is a particular relief to me, as the lack of a sense of actual stakes was always my #1 problem with the other Avenger films (yes, even in the much-vaunted original). When all of humanity (along with the rest of the universe) is threatened, when the film’s big bad baddies come one step closer to completing their evil schemes, it feels like it actually matters, like the threat is actually real this time around, especially when the threat is being delivered by Josh Brolin’s Thanos, who continues the refreshing trend that Black Panther started earlier this year of MCU movies having a main villain who isn’t simply evil “just cuz”. Rather, IW devotes an actual good deal of screentime and energy to developing his character, giving him some sort of dimension beyond just the film’s designated Bad Guy., and, despite his undeniably horrific masterplan of a sort of galaxy-wide genocide, it’s a testament to Thanos’s unexpectedly rich, almost sympathetic characterization here that we understand how he could view himself as a tragic hero only doing what’s necessary, what no one else will do, even while completely, vehemently opposing it at the same time.
And, of course, Infinity War’s overall sense of spectacle and entertainment can’t be understated, not just when it comes to its gargantuan, planet-hopping, universe-spanning scope, or in its epic final battle that rivals anything from the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, but in the sheer number of audience-applauding, fanboy wish-fulfillment moments it packs from having so many iconic, diverse figures of the MCU finally cross paths here; ever wanted to see how the collective arrogance of Iron Man and Doctor Strange would bounce off each other in the same place? Or watch Thor, pompous God Of Thunder pal around the stars alongside the Guardians Of The Galaxy? How about seeing the Winter Soldier fight side-by-machine-gun-holding-side with Rocket himself? Well, all this and much, much more lies in wait for you within Infinity War, and, for my aforementioned reasons, while it is definitely too much to fit easily into one film (even one this long), Infinity War is still a captivating and entertaining culmination of the first decade of the Marvelverse
I bought an exercise bike with a tablet stand and now I’m catching up on my backlog. The new Ghostbusters movie was not as bad as I thought it would be. I liked half of the cast and half of the jokes. I could do without the cameos though. I still remember the 80s. You don’t have to put the original cast in every modern take on a classic movie.
My wife and I are almost done with Made in Abyss. Just made it through “That Scene” last night…
I’ve never been so physically affected by a show before, let alone an anime. I thought I was going to lose my dinner.
We’re both super invested in the show/world/characters. It’s really surreal and very well done, I just don’t know why they need to be 12 goddam years old.
That’s the main reason I’m staying away.
It wouldn’t be as weird if it didn’t have such gross sexual undertones. There’s a running joke where adults in this world punish kids by stringing them up naked, and the main girl pisses all the time and they make sure to talk about it a lot every time, and just… why does it have to be that way? I just can’t help but think what a creep the author must be.
Minor plot spoiler:
And it just doesn’t make any fucking sense that she passes through a series of adults all who have the chance to talk some sense into this fucking child about not going into the abyss, but instead each and every one just pushes her forward with little to no help. Wishing her the best. Feeling totally justified in their choices…
But the world is really inspired, the mystery is enthralling, and it’s a wild fucking ride. So we stick with it and pine for S2 after we finish the first tonight.
God, Thunderbolt Fantasy is such my shit
Halloween | David Gordon Green | 2018 | USA | 1h 46min | Horror | Thriller
Set 40 years after the original Halloween, this latest film in the series positions itself as a direct sequel to original and in some ways is a conversation with that film, the franchise and the horror genre at large. It finds Laurie Strode still psychologically battered by the events of that night, dreading the inevitable return of Michael Myers. But unlike in H20, which covered similar material (and which this one erases from continuity), Strode is not trying to hide from Myers but has instead spent those forty years preparing, turning her house into a fortress and committing to a rigorous self-defense training regime. This preparation has come at the cost of alienating her family, and along with the total commitment of Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance (this is a character she knows like the back of her hand), the movie uses her age to suggest deeply ingrained emotional wounds in a more impactful way than I’ve seen in most horror movies. (The closest comparison might actually be the mileage Paris, Texas gets out of Harry Dean Stanton’s face, although this movie isn’t quite on the same level.) But of course, this being a Halloween movie, Strode ends up being right and Myers breaks out while being transported between mental institutions and resumes killing again.
The movie’s fundamental worldview is that evil can’t be rationalized away or reasoned with and must be met head-on, and it manifests in interesting ways that I think might make this a good one to revisit and chew over. We reunite with Myers in this movie as he’s approached by two true crime podcasters, one of whom produces his mask in an attempt to trigger a reaction, and I wonder if this is the movie’s jab at what it feels are the exploitation and cheapening of real life horrors by the kind of true crime media that’s flourished in recent years. The movie also seems like a rebuke of Rob Zombie’s Halloween films, whose attempts to psychoanalyze Myers backfired when they coughed up his childhood in a trailer as the motivation behind his killings, a lesson Zombie himself learned and wisely exaggerated the psychobabble into total nonsense in his superior second entry. (This movie also throws in a psychiatrist character that doesn’t play too differently from Zombie’s take on Loomis, so perhaps their differences are more in terms of goals than strategy.)
Between the movie’s refusal to sympathize with its killer’s condition and its prominent gun usage, one can probably read a greater political stance into it, but I think they’re more direct responses to common genre elements, and the gunplay and DIY self-defense climax actually plays like a riff on Wes Craven’s oeuvre. David Gordon Green’s direction is probably stronger than anything the series has seen since John Carpenter held the reins, and he doesn’t shy away from restaging iconic images from the original. The attempts at giving depth to Strode play better than in H20, which couldn’t rise above its slick ‘90s horror pedigree, and even the deployment of shakycam plays more assuredly than Zombie’s use of the same flourish. But in trying to interrogate and wring meaning from the material, it reaches a conclusion similar to its lessons about Myers the character, that sometimes simpler is better. For all its sophistication, this new Halloween can’t match the ruthless elegance of the original.
I believed that The Dark Tower would be based on the first book in the series, which I’ve read twice and still haven’t gotten the appeal of. I’m a fan of most of Stephen King’s other work. This movie was a lot more interesting than The Gunslinger and now I feel more motivated to go through the other 8 novels.