STAR WARS : THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – The Final Word Review :)!

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STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – TO Set the stage for my thoughts on the rise of skywalker, to help you decide if my review is informative, it is helpful to know what informs my viewing experience.

I go into a film having avoided reviews, or special features, or tirades, or predictions, or pontifications or guesses on what it should be. Beyond the first teaser trailer, for a movie I know I am going to see, I avoid all subsequent trailers, there is no need for them, I know I am going to see the movie.

So I go into a film, as much as humanly possible, there to see the film the filmmaker decides to make, and not hoping to see the idea of a film I have made up in my head.

So off the bat, I liked THE RISE OF SKYWALER. My barometer always being at the end of the film… am I glad I saw this film in the theater? Answer? Yes.

And this is coming from someone who saw the film at a Cinebistro, with spacious selected/premium seating, and meals brought to you. For the two of us it came to about a $140 for movie, meals and drink, and tip. Now obviously for a cheapskate like me who prefers $4 matinees, this is not something I am going to indulge in more than 2 or 3 times a year, and only for special movies. At the end of the day, I liked the film and am glad I saw it in the theater, however I did not love the film.

I think a lot of times when people rail against a film, or say they dislike or hate a film ( not a word I would use for a film, hate is a word best left toward things that have raped and pillaged real things in a real world. First worlders using the word hate, for as innocuous a thing as film, have lived a very small life. Applying words out of proportion to the impetus); a lot of times what they are really saying is, that the film is not the film they were expecting, or hoped for, or wanted.

Whether a politician, or a group, or a show, or a book, or a movement, a lot of times, when we choose to dislike a thing it is  less about that thing being good or bad, than it is about that thing not being a reflection of our prejudices. Not wearing our colors, or speaking with our voice, or laughing to our jokes, or sharing our choices.

A lot of it is about something not meeting our expectations.

And in our current always on, and everything preanalyzied, and pontificated on, and second guessed and armchair quarterbacked before it ever comes out, we build up expectations, that fly in the face of actally enjoying the movie.

A lot of times enjoying the movie is about leaving what you want the film to be at the door, and going in just letting the filmmaker tell his story. Allowing them to not be a mindreader and a puppet, and do more than simply regurgitate the fanfiction in your head.

A lot of people confuse nostalgia with quality. “Oh comics today aren’t as good as they were when I was a kid, and movies, and books, and, food, and candy and cartoons”….and as someone who is older than most of you reading this, and have a fond feeling for a lot of things we have deified, the truth is that nostalgia, while comforting to look back on, the past is not necessarily better. I’ll go further, it is not usually better.

The present and the future builds on the past. The 6 minute mile gives way to the 5 minute mile gives way to the 4 minute mile.

We move, in all things, toward a more perfect union. Not all things surely, but as a median, the quality of things have improved in the hundred years from 1920 to 2020.

And in my lifetime, while I love the comic books of Stan and Jack, and Neal Adams and Denny ONeil and Keith Giffen and David Kraft, and some of those books remain masterpieces, as a whole we produce more great books in a month than they cranked out in a year. And yes, our share of bad, but I would argue the general level of craft, of art and storytelling and production is as a whole superior now to then.

And the same goes for film. Nostalgia is fine when we understand it for a feeling and not a formula or a fact, when we understand it is something that is not a barometer of quality, or a map to follow, or to necessarily always steer into.

RISE OF SKYWALKER almost from the first frame is a film that steers into nostalgia and sentiment, and those can be powerful and effective parts of a story when used sparingly, when earned. Here the early parts of the film, feel very… contrived. The humor, and the banter, and the reveal of the big bad, all feels…by the numbers,  and … yes contrived, rather than the natural outgrowth of the story.

You never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression, and RISE OF SKYWALKER starts off with a lot of telling, rather than showing. There is a lot of ‘we are going here because of this’, and ‘must do this because of that’. And while that is part of many films, it felt very obvious and clunky here, it felt like the one thing it should never feel like… it felt like exposition.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker theatrical poster upper portion with Rey, Kylo Ren, and others

I like JJ Abrams as a filmmaker. I loved his first STAR TREK, and while a huge fan of his 2nd STAR TREK film, concede that it was marred by his need to wink and steer into nostalgia, at expense of the story he is telling. Here in RISE OF SKYWALKER It feels like he is at times making fan fiction, playing to nostalgia, rather than actually having his own story to tell.

Rian Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI was met, I think, by a small but vocal group who wanted the film to be only nostalgia, and only their expectations, and only well trod ground, and Rian Johnson told a story that moved the needle, and was about change, and about the end of old things. I wholeheartedly think it is a masterpiece, that will stand the test of time. And people forget in all the social media bs, all the tornado in a teapot, that THE LAST JEDI was a box office success.

But we have become a very reactionary society, where the faceless mob, the agenda driven mob, and arguably the talentless mob, wants to be the tail that wags the dog.

RISE OF SKYWALKER to me, feels like JJ Abram to some extent capitulating and trying to appease the nostalgia crowd, as well as his own nostalgia tropes. I was and am a huge fan of the late Carrie Fisher, and that he wanted to honor her with this film, understandable. However for me, again it felt a lot of the scenes shoehorned in, at the expense of a more compelling story-line. To some extent, again to me, THE LAST JEDI used both those characters more compellingly than how they were used here.

RISE at times, besides feeling very long, feels like a list being checked off. I am not qualified and virtually no one reviewing this… is qualified to call this a bad film, any more than anyone is qualified to call any of the recent batch of STAR WARS films bad films.These are master filmmakers, all of them, and most of the people weighing in with opinions have not made a single film. It’s like someone who is not a painter, saying this painting is bad or this painting is good. You can say that a thing works for you, or does not work for you, but barometers about the quality of a product, from someone outside the industy, ill-informed at best.

So full disclosure, I like all the STAR WARS films, with the exception of the prequels. And even those I do not call bad, they just were not for me. Not everything is geared for everyone. For the intended audience of kids, those rightly may be their favorite films.

As someone who does not see the world with rose-colored glasses, or confuse nostalgia with quality, or have an agenda of hate to defend, I can say that the new films  I have enjoyed for the most part more than the original trilogy. With the exception of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, which is arguably right up there with THE LAST JEDI as my favorite STAR WARS films.

If you take Nostalgia away from the first STAR WARS film, and compare it warts and all to any of the recent films, the recent films are stronger. They are better shot, better paced, more exciting. And that goes for RISE OF SKYWALKER , which is my least enjoyed of the new films.

 

That said, while the story JJ Abrams ended up telling I found less compelling than the less formulaic story that Rian Johnson was embarking on, there were some things I greatly liked about  RISE OF SKYWALKER. I thought the visuals were stunning. Not as Elegiac and beautiful as THE LAST JEDI, but very close.The battles were stupendous, I liked some of the sentiment, and in moments… it wowed.

So ultimately it was not the movie I would have liked to see, but for what it was, there is a lot of good here, and misgivings about the story-line aside, I overall enjoyed watching it.

Grade: B-.

Movie / TV Trailer of the Day or First Netflix Show I have been excited for in a Long Time!

Dracula_Final_VARIANT.jpg

The poster above is by Jonathan Burton, commissioned by Universal Studios to honor the original 1931 Dracula film, but in spirit it seems perfect to capture this new Netflix distributed DRACULA that is on the horizon. The new trailer looks… AWESOME!!! View it at the link below.

Lets make no mistake Francis Ford Coppola, his questionable stance on current films aside, in his heyday made some phenomenal films. APOCALYPSE NOW, and GODFATHER on anybody’s shortlist of 100 best films.

However, some of his less celebrated movies, are the ones I love the most. TUCKER starring Jeff Bridges, is a masterful film. And his BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, is the last word in the vampire film. I love my Universal Films, I love my Hammer films, PENNY DREADFUL had its moments (a poor third season ruined it for me), but Coppola’s DRACULA has been the undisputed best take on the Dracula myth.

Based on the trailer alone, this new DRACULA, may be a worthy new take on Stoker’s most celebrated tale.

The trailer has me looking forward to it, and excited for it, which is something I have not been for a Netflix property in sometime. So yeah, this one goes on my must watch list. 🙂

 

 

DEALS OF THE DAY

Movie Posters of the Day!

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Call of the Wild

Harrison Ford is returning to film, to do a new adaptation of Jack London’s THE CALL OF THE WILD. Not a Jack London fan, and I can take or leave his most well known novel, so whether this adaptation works, will depend on the screenwriter and director. So FAR, the trailer looks charming enough, though i’m still not sold on the cg animals. particularly when you mix live action actors with cgi actors, yes it can be done well, and it is getting better, but you are still clearly aware of the artifice. whether the movie is strong enough to transcend that artifice is DEBATABLE. honestly if they were going to do this having a real dog there, at  for the non action scenes, would i think help have grounded the movie. just in the brief trailer i didn’t buy ford and the dog, in the same scene at the same time. but, hoping for the best.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Poster

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (#6 of 19)

End of the day, THE STAR WARS films have always (at heart) been fun, larger scale tributes to movie serials of old. They are supposed to be fun, people. And whether brilliant or ‘miss the mark’ for you, they all come from a place of filmmakers… trying to entertain.

If it is not for you, don’t go see them.

Stop bitching, stop whining, either shut the heck up and make your own movies,  or watch something else.  Or wait for the next one and hope it will be better. For those of you, virulently hating on the film because it is not the film your ‘no talent’ ass imagined it would be, and therefore all you have to do with your time… is spread bile on the livelihood of working people, and attack and hope the film fails… I with all sincerity think you are a tragic form of life.

It is space battles. Good guys against bad guys. And if you can’t hope for that film to be good, there is something ineffably broken with you.

For my own money. I hope every movie is going to be great. And if it doesn’t work for me, I move on to something else, and hope the next one they make will be better.

But hoping, and going thru all sorts of machinations to make a film be received poorly, again, it makes that person a particularly smarmy, unctuous and sad form of life.

Again, I’m not saying you have to love Star Wars, or any movie. I may not like the new Star Wars film, but honestly disliking , and having an Agenda against something, based on reasons outside the narrative scope of the film… well it is… classless.

Don’t be that person. Do not be subscribed to that person. 🙂 .

Whether they have a youtube channel, or blog or podcast, or website, do not be the one, spreading the mantra of hate and division and conflict. Let today be the day you speak to those people in the language they understand.

Make today the day, you unsubscribe from people who want to tear joyous things down, and try and embrace the sites and people… that want to hope for the great.

Looking forward to THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. I have to tell you, I have enjoyed all of the new STAR WARS films we have been getting; and THE RISE OF SKYWALKER looks like another one that I will enjoy. 

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Knives Out (#14 of 15)

And speaking of STAR WARS; Rian Johnson made one of my favorite STAR WARS  films, so looking forward to this Agatha Christiesque film, KNIVES OUT. The cast looks great. 

 

Hiram A. Murray in The Great War (2019)

 

I don’t love the first poster for THE GREAT WAR, it seems to overlook the strengths of the trailer, also it threw me since the name of the director was either Steven Luke or Luke Schuetzle. However a little research and it appears Steven Luke is the ‘acting name’ of Luke Schuetzle, who directs, produces, and stars in this WWI biopic. However, the trailer… I LOVED. This is a movie I am looking forward to checking out. When it makes it to streaming, or theatrical or bluray/DVD.

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for 1917 (#3 of 3)

I have not seen the trailer for 1917 (another WW1 film), but the pedigree of being directed by Sam Mendes of SKYFALL fame, makes me very interested in catching this one as well.

 

Well that is all for this installment, if you enjoyed please give a like, and check out this week’s other posts.

Till next time, be well!

Today’s STREAMING VOD TV Guide Roku Recommendations: Youtube Edition!

Today’s STREAMING VOD TV Guide RECOMMENDATIONS – Youtube EDITION!

 

YOUTUBE:

 

Movie Posters of the Day!

All these posters grabbed my eye this installment.

In terms of the order/interest I have for them it would go:

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s A WILD PEAR TREE (Istanbul) would probably be the first thing I tried to watch. If not in theaters, at least via streaming or DVD/Bluray. I am a HUGE fan of the Director’s 2006 film CLIMATES (if you have not seen that film, starring the director and his mesmerizing wife Ebru Ceylan, it is a stunning and amazingly beautiful film) and very interested in catching up with his newer, current work.

That would likely be followed up by Bong Joon Ho’s PARASITE (South Korea) given the praise the films is garnering, and my loving the Director’s previous films MEMORIES OF MURDER and THE HOST.

Next in order of my interest level, would be IP MAN 4, followed by BLACK WIDOW, followed by JUDY AND PUNCH, with a female take on (or answer to) the slasher genre film BLACK CHRISTMAS, being a bit of a wait and see for me. (Not really a fan of the slasher genre, so movies like that, if not done exceptionally well, will always be a hard sell for me.)

The remaining films, I need to see a trailer, or more info, to get me interested in seeing them.

 

That is this installment’s MOVIE POSTERS OF THE DAY.

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MOVIE POSTERS of the Day!

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Hobbs & Shaw (#7 of 7)

I have not gone to see a single one of the FAST AND FURIOUS movies in the theater, most I have done is catch a couple on streaming. This HOBBS & SHAW spin-off film I think I will catch in the theaters. The trailer is that much fun.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Luz (#2 of 2)

I have seen nothing on this film, but that poster… stunning. The use of the attention grabbing colors of Red, Black and Yellow, and the angling of the scene and the typography… simply wonderful poster design.

Anna Movie Poster

The trailer looks good. But not everyone is convincing as a fighter. Keanu Reeves, yes. Angelina Jolie, yes. This actress with her runway model build, looks like her bones would break with the first solid punch landed or received. It takes me right out of it, even watching the trailer. Not everyone is action star material. But I am open to being proven wrong, but I will not be seeing this in the theater. That said, the above poster is very good.

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home Movie Poster

Spider-Man: Far From Home Movie Poster

For these big blockbusters I find the foreign and specialty markets are producing far better and more interesting posters than the American market, which is usually just a big closeup of the star. These two poster for FAR FROM HOME are case in point. Both very well done.

The Good Liar Movie Poster

Another example of great poster design.

Annabelle Comes Home Movie Poster

Looking at the trailer, I do not think the movie will be of any interest to me, seems like a pretty underwhelming, by the numbers, horror film with stupid kids doing stupid things so we can have this sequel, but that aside the above is a CREEPY poster!

 

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dolor y gloria (#3 of 3)

Above poster does what it should. Makes me want to see the film.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Iron Sky: The Coming Race (#1 of 2)

I have no information on the above film, the last thing I remember having IRON SKY in the title, by all reports was awful,  but the poster alone makes me intrigued in finding out more.

 

The Current War Movie Poster

I do not love this poster for THE CURRENT WAR, it shows that unimaginative streak I mentioned regarding domestic posters. That said I did love the trailer, so it is on here more for the trailer than the poster.

 

If you liked this poster coverage, give a like, and support the links in my previous posts.

And let me know if there is a favorite poster of yours that should have been included on this list. Till next installment, be well!

 

 

On JESSICA JONES Trailer, Tom King’s BATMAN, and DCs SWAMP THING show!

Let us start in the middle Tom King’s BATMAN.

I listened to a recent podcast where they were bemoaning the news of Tom King stepping off the BATMAN comic. All kinds of speculation on him being removed, etc. That he was doing a brilliant run on Batman, etc, etc. And they couldn’t understand how DC could not see what a great, innovative job he was doing, and that DC execs must not like great stories, yada, yada.

This very minor and relatively harmless rant from this podcast I watched, illustrates perhaps a less wholesome issue with our culture in whole. This inability to see or look for, or acknowledge, viewpoints other than our own.

The truth is out there, to paraphrase a show I was never a fan of, beyond the odd ‘monster-of the week’ episode.

The truth is out there, but we have to look, and we have to do our homework.

It doesn’t have to be controversy when we get news we do not expect or agree with.

It doesn’t have to be DC executives are stupid.

It could be as simple, if Tom King was removed, as simple as the books were not moving in the numbers they liked, or meeting with across the board praise.

A simple look at reviews of Tom King’s BATMAN run, whether podcasts, or Youtube videos, or blogs or websites, when you extend the search beyond your circle, your chorus, you see a run, a body of work, that from the first trade on, was conflicted. And grew more uneven and conflicted, in terms of the writing, and the response to the writing with every trade/issue.

I think a lot of people make excuses for Tom King”s work when they do not love it. Like they refuse to admit they didn’t love it because of Tom King, so they blame the publisher, or the editor, etc.

A writer is a lot like a director, you get the praise when a product is great. You should also carry the blame when a product isn’t. A lot of people like to give King the former, and make excuses to keep him from the latter.

Stop making excuses or trying to blame Editorial if you do not like a Tom King story. You do not try to give them the praise if you love a Tom King story. So let’s not be hypocrites.

And I am not anti-Tom King, I am not one of these knuckle dragging anti social justice warrior, anti-woman, anti-diversity, psuedo neo nazi nuts. I judge the work, on the work, and wait to read it, before having an opinion on it.

Tom King can be a great writer.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2MAm9GC

His VISION series is one of the greatest things I have read in years. (And if you have not read it, I urge you to pick up the collected hardcover… it is that good.)

His OMEGA MEN very good.

https://amzn.to/2EZQGHG

His Batman, in pieces, standalone, I’m thinking specifically of ANNUAL 2, can be great. Annual 2 was great.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2MzJsk0

However, specifically to Batman, other than that standalone story,  his actual run on Batman, the first 4 or 5 trades, I found awful. I mean… awful. “I am suicide!”As his take-away on the character of Batman. Really???!!

Batman: I Am Suicide (The Complete Story) - YouTube

The great flaw of Tom King’ s BATMAN (for me), was always Tom King’s take of the character. He keeps writing the same broken, suicidal, and ineffective character, over and over again. And while it worked for the Vision and Mr. Miracle, shoehorning that Hamlet type protagonist and calling him Batman or Kid Flash, does not work at all.

He keeps trying to tailor these heroes and archetypes to his ptsd framework, and it increasingly does not work. He needs to start writing to the character, than simply shoehorning them into his rigid story.

We get it,

Tom King brings a military background, and a CIA background, and an espionage background, and a background of those places where we all break under stress and pressure. And again telling that story with certain characters can work, however retelling that story with every character does not work.

There are more stories than that. And another reason we look to these heroes is because they are our aspirations writ large, they should not all be stand-ins for the places where we fall down, they should be the standards of how to standup. They should be our hopes writ large, not our insecurities. The VISION type stories should be the exception, not the rule.

I do not want to read a comic with a Superman dealing with PTSD. It starts to become one note writing, rather than great writing, to make all the heroes analogs for the common man, or the Hamlet in us.

So yeah, while I will not be picking up the individual issues regardless of who writes BATMAN, because paying more than $2.99 for a single Marvel or DC comic is insanity (Marvel and DC should both be ashamed of themselves for charging more than $2.99 for scant pages of comics. Now, smaller Independent publishers I cut them slack on pricing, because their page count and quality is usually higher. However Marvel and DC has the economies of scale to keep prices low. To not do so comes down to mismarketing, mismanagement, and short term greed, over long term sustainability and growth) , I will, if the word of mouth is good, check out the books when they hit the $1 bins of the secondary market or in collected edition at the libraries.

I look forward to a new take on Batman, and a new writer.

Okay… next topic…

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JESSICA JONES Season III trailer. Here is the thing, I was not interested enough to watch the 2nd season of JESSICA JONES. And by all reviews I did not miss much. But I went into the the trailer for season III hoping it would be good. I have to tell you, I found it incredibly uninteresting.

I can only take so much of brooding, not quite likeable, characters so, just with the way the protagonist is played, with a listless, can’t be bothered attitude, the performance of Jessica Jones is typically the weakest part of the show JESSICA JONES.

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So that said, you need charismatic, interesting people surrounding her to make the show worth while. You need a Luke Cage, you need a Purple Man. You need dynamism to counteract the plodding, disaffected, and starting to get annoying, performance of the protagonist.  And unfortunately the trailer for Season III offered none of that. Offered an Antagonist, absolutely as uninteresting as the protagonist. A battle of who could bore me more.

 

So yeah the trailer to Season III of JESSICA JONES, a hard fail. That is not going to make my watch list, based on that trailer.

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Finally, the news that the DC Swamp Thing show has been cancelled before the 1st season really starts.

It has come out the reason DC/Warner Brothers pulled the plug is largely because North Carolina, an increasingly politically suspect state (excuses to my North Carolina Friends, but you are starting to be run by the pointy hat crowd. And I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. You know you need to start cleaning your house, much the same way the Nation needs to clean its house) basically bailed on their promise to help finance the production of SWAMP THING in their state.

It is a great shame, because I have to tell you, I absolutely loved the full trailer to SWAMP THING.

They looked like they had all the elements for a wonderful , long form story, worthy of the kind of eerie, brilliant, haunting storytelling that creators Alan Moore, Bissette, Totleben, Wein, and Wrightson laid the ground work for.

Such a shame.

Maybe someone else will add the additional funds so we get to see this vision of Swamp Thing, eventually played out.

Well that’s it guys.

Just wanted to put my 2 cents in on those 3 topics. Take two seconds and support today’s recommended comics.

You know when I was saying I cut Independent comics a slack, because of their quality of content and packaging. ALTERNA COMICS and AHOY COMICS are two cases in point. There are a lot of great writers/artists in comics, arguably one of the best of them is Eric Powell. I absolutely am enamored with his GOON and his HILLBILLY and his SPOOK SHOW. And ALTERNA comics addreses all the issues with price gouging that we are getting from the big two, Marvel and DC, while giving us quality products. So you can preorder comics from both publishers and get them direct mailed to you.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/subscriptionservice

 

Use the links above get great books, support these publishers, and earn a few pennies for this blog. A win-win!

 

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan