Movie Review: The Last Jedi

Note:  I haven’t written anything for a while due to being extremely busy with my day job, and various illnesses.  Starting next week I hope to get back on a regular schedule. Now to the post

Title: Star Wars:  Episode VIII The Last Jedi (Or as I call it, Empire Strikes Back Anakinized)
Released:  December 2017
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy
Grade:  C

I saw this several weeks ago, but held off reviewing it because I was a bit confused by my own reaction.  I loved the movie, yet at the same time was oddly disappointed.  It took me awhile to figure a few things out.

I love Star Wars.  I’ve enjoyed the films, and the books and eventually plan on watching the animated TV shows.  I’ve seen each one in theaters since Attack of the Clones came out.  So seeing this movie was important as a lifetime fan.

Yet, after the awesomeness that was Rogue One, this movie failed to really impress me.  While it wasn’t as direct in its channeling of Empire Strikes back as the Force Awakens was with A New Hope, you kind of could see it following the same basic plotline. Our heroes are separated, the Jedi apprentice seeks a mentor, while the rebel members of the trio deal with gamblers and the bad guys while trying to save the alliance.  The characters were rather flat, which surprised me.  Even Leia, who I expected more from, was a bit flat.  Snoke was a disappointment because for a villain he’s rather flat.  Palpatine had more character in his scenes in the original trilogy and he barely had any scenes.

Also, Luke for all intents seems out of character for the man we saw in the last trilogy.  The only characters with any real sort of development was Luke (meh quality) and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo.  And even then it seems rather a let down.

I feel like JJ Abrams & Company are trying to recreate the Original Trilogy, yet with some of the Prequel style effects and characterization.  Kylo/Ben comes off as whiny as Anakin does in the prequels.

I have a few more specific problems with it, but I’m trying to make this as spoiler free as possible.  So my thoughts basically are this:  Enjoy the movie, but don’t expect something amazing.

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Christmas Movies Edition 2017

Last year I wrote a post about my favorite Christmas movies.  This year I’ve decided to search through my streaming accounts and find various christmas movies to watch/review over the next two weeks.  So consider this an introductory post (or warning).

  1.  White Christmas (via Netflix or DVD)
    This is a traditional christmas movie.  I’ve seen it, but I’ll be looking at it more analytically this time around.
  2.  Christmas Prince (Netflix)
    Netflix has released its own christmas movie about a News Reporter who goes to investigate a Prince who is supposed to be crowned on Christmas but may abdicate.  I’ve watched in bits so I kind of have an idea of whats going on but haven’t watched it in full.  Looks like it will be cute.
  3. Home Alone 3 (Amazon/Starz)
    Ok, so I’ve grown up with the first two but never watched the third movie.  So hopefully I will be finally watching this weird sequel (Where’s Kevin?).   THere are actually 5, which surprises me.
  4. Die Hard.  (rental from Amazon)
    For Alan Rickman.  And I’ve got to see what’s so good about this movie that they’ve made half a dozen sequels.
  5. Love Actually (Netflix)
    Its tradition.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Movie Review: Sinister (2012)

Title: Sinister
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Rating: R (NOT FOR KIDS; while not as gory as some horror movies, this film focuses on murder and psychological horor, so not for the kids)
Release Date: 2012
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writing Credits:  Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill

At a Halloween party over the weekend, a friend decided that everyone should watch Sinister, which he greatly recommended (and horror is his favorite genre).  So we agreed.  Although I’m sure some of my friends regret watching movies with me because I am a commentator. This movie was no exception.

The movie starts out with Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) and his family moving into a home that (unknown to the rest of his family) is at the center of a murder mystery he is investigating for his new book.  He finds a bunch of 8mm home videos and decides to watch them.  Only he finds out that the films cover 50 years and all end with the family dying in various different ways.  Things continue to go south in many ways for him as he continues his investigation. It begins to affect his children and wife.  (The effects on the kids is another reason why this movie is not for kids).

It is your standard horror movie, with the psychological elements that come with it.  Writing wise, its well written. I think the idea of tying into a fictional pagan deity was a bit much, but it worked within the film.  The minor characters seem to have a lot more sense than I usually see in a horror film which was also a nice change.

The cast, other than Ethan Hawke, was pretty new to me.  However they all did an excellent job. The girl who played Ashley Oswalt (Clare Foley) might be familiar to some as she played a recurring character on Gotham (Ivy Pepper).

The soundtrack was amazing though, and perhaps the best part of the film.

My overall enjoyment of the film was so-so because Horror films don’t seem to appeal to me.  I spend too much time mocking the characters. But this movie overall if taken analytically was a well put together movie.  My only criticism is some of the lighting in some of the scenes  could have been better.

Deputy So-and-So (who I see as the most sensible person in this movie) returned for the sequel, which came out in 2015.  It has Shannyn Sossamon in it, which intriqued me but I don’t think I’ll be watching the sequel.

Final Grade: A

Trailer:

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Title: Beauty and the Beast
Release Date: 2017
Director:Bill Condon
Genre:  Disney; Live-Action Animation remake; Musical
Method of Watching:  Stream (Netflix)

Today I finally sat down and watched Beauty and the Beast.  I expected to enjoy it and was not disappointed.  However, It actually was better than I expected.  Beauty and the Beast’s original Disney film came out in 1991 when I was 5 years old.  So basically at the time I was obsessed with Disney films like ever other toddler in existence.  So there is a lot of sentimentality to get through when watching a remake.  I expected to enjoy it because of other reviews I read, but also expected to be disappointed in ways because it would no doubt not match the animated version. Continue reading

Scarlet O’Hara (Bubblews Repost)

Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind trailer-9

EDIT NOTES:  This post was made several years ago on Bubblews, a site that is no longer online.  I found it while cleaning out some folders on my google drive, and decided to repost it, with some minor grammatical corrections.  According to my file, I wrote this on October 9, 2014, 11:55 AM.  I plan on eventually reading the novel, and rewatching the movie to see if my views still hold true. Also this post doesn’t focus on GWTW portrayal of slavery, which is at times very awkward because of its avoidance of the reality.  This just focuses on their main plot around Scarlet.

On Sunday, I saw Gone With the Wind in Theaters.  It was a great experience, although I hate to tell the movie people that 5 minutes is not enough to allow people to get to the bathroom and/or go to the concession stand to refill their drinks.  Should have been fifteen, but that is not the point of this post. Continue reading

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

Film: Wonder Woman  (PG-13)
Director:  Patty Jenkins
Release Date:  June 2 2017/September 1 2017
Grade: A

I really enjoyed this movie.  I will admit that one of the reasons I wanted to see it is because I like Chris Pine, but honestly he was only one element of a good film.  The background of the Amazonians was well-developed, and Robin Wright did an amazing job as the general.  I wish we had seen more of her in the film then we did.

The secondary characters were great as well, and they didn’t ignore the idea of PTSD from the war.  They also didn’t make the superhero always right. I’m also glad they made it be WWI, and not WWII.  While the Germans are still the guys following the bad guy, It gets tiring after a while to see it always be the Nazi’s (although if there is a Nazi, they should be fought).  This movie didn’t shy away from the fact that at the time there was many disadvantages to not being white and male without making it seem like a lecture.  It didn’t glorify war, but it wasn’t heavy-handed with the opposite.  It had an even tone through out.  There were plenty of female characters that had names and lines none of them were seen in awkward near nudity scenes. Diana’s uniform is reveling, but functional rather than just something that makes her look ‘sexy’ which has long been a comic book flaw.  I was surprised that they reversed the trend of seeing women in surprise nudity to seeing the guy in surprise nudity.  Although he was taking a bath, so it is a little more understanding then say what happened in Star Trek where Carol Marcus just starts changing in front of the man who is technically her boss.

I also give them credit for an amazing plot twist at the end which didn’t stick to all the conventions either.

It was a good origin film, connecting well into the general DC universe.  I have to admit that out of the DC films I have seen, this has been the only one I have enjoyed.  I can only hope that DC  takes note from this and the movies will improve in quality of writing.

Besides Chris Pine, Gal Gadot, and Robin Wright, it has a lot of familiar faces.  Danny Houston plays the German General, who perhaps is not unlike his edition of Stryker from the X-men movies. David Thewlis, known for his portrayal of Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films plays Sir Patrick, one of the leaders of Great Britain attempting to make an armistice with the German forces.

Women of History: Boudica

When I decided to start a blog series about women from history, Boudica jumped out at me.  Not because she was my favorite historical woman, or because she had some major play in history.  She just did.  So for no reason whatsoever other than ‘because’, she’ll be my first post subject.

Boudica was a British Queen, back during the Roman Empire.  At that point England (And Great Britian as a whole) was made up of different tribes.  She was part of the Iceni Tribe which lived in what is now modern day Norfolk.

Boudica (also spelled Boadicea, Boudicea, and called Budding in Welsh) was born around 25 AD  She was married to Prasutagus, who was the elected ruler or King of the Iceni.  Prasutagus had a agreeable relationship with the Roman Empire, enough so that when he died he left his kingdom to both his daughters and the Empire.  This of course caused problems.

The Romans had left the Iceni and the other British tribes for the most part alone since Ceaser visited a century before.  However, around 43 AD, Emperor Claudius decided to invade, and this time take control.  The Tribes eventually had to submit, but instead of leaving them alone for the most part, Claudius left behind his soldiers on the island.  Some of the native population continued to rebel, but successive governors of the island sent by rome made things more and more difficult for the Iceni and their neighbors. At one point they no longer had the ability to have any weapons that could be used for rebellion (hunting weapons were still allowed to a point).  When Claudius died, his successor Nero had them build a temple in Camulodunum for him, which required the Celtic Icenic to worship their invader. They were also forced to pay for it.  Not having the funds to do so, they ended up borrowing money from rich Romans.  

Boudica’s eventual rebellion was motivated by different things, depending on what source you were told.  Most of the tales of Boudica were Roman, as there was no written celtic history at the time.  However, the Romans who wrote about the Queen of the Iceni had different ideas of what motivated her.  According to some, her motivations were due to oppression.  The Romans, such as Seneca, who had leant money to the Britions called those loans in with force. The Governers took more and more of the freedoms the Celtic populations enjoyed to keep them under control.  THis included destruction of their holy lands, which sadly would not be the last time this would happen in history. This got worse when her husband, who had on friendly terms with the Roman Empire, died.  Rome decided to take complete control rather then share with the man’s daughters.

Other accounts have more dramatic reasons.  According to Tacitus, Boudica was flogged for resisting her estate being taken over by the local leader and her daughters raped.  Given that there is no account from the side of the Celtics, or Boudica herself, its hard to know for sure what really happened to her or her people that caused her to decide to seize leadership and rebel.

In around 60-61 AD, Boudica lead Celtic rebels in full rebellion against the Roman invaders.  She attacked, and destroyed several cities.  One of which was the City of London, which still bears traces of the attack where Boudica’s army burned the city down. Other cities included Verulamium, and Camulodunum (Colchester). According to Dio, she was vicious in her retribution, killing those who remained in the cities.  She had a larger army, with an estimate of 230 thousand.   However in the end the Roman leader Suetonius was victorious and returned Britain to Roman control.  His troops were better trained and better armed, and in the end that seemed to win the day.

Boudica died soon afterwards, with even her death in dispute.  In some accounts she ended it by poison, others she died of an illness.  She was given a costly funeral by her tribesman.  Despite the loss, she was still greatly respected by most accounts.  I suppose in a way its amazing that she managed to not only gain the respect of her fellow celts, but enough respect from the Romans that they told stories about her.  They won, they could have told any story they wanted.  Made her out to be some demon, but they didn’t.

I suppose it confused them.  The Romans weren’t particularly equalitarian when it came to gender. Most of the heroines of their tales were either godesses or foriegn Queens.  Boudica, Dido, Cleopatra.    Women who defyed the Roman idea of Womanhood.

Today it doesn’t seem that far fetched that a group of fighters would go into battle for their Queen.  Its happened many times before.  Boudica left in imprint on the history of Great Britain, not just as a Queen.  She became a symbol of resistance.  She became a subject of Art, and inspiration during the Victorian Age.







Further Reading:

Boudica – Wikipedia

Boudica: Celtic War Queen who challenged Rome

Boudica: