‘Fear of death is illogical…’
‘I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me.’
A stellar ending covers the first chinks in Stranger Things armour…
Stranger Things is the latest Netflix production to have taken the world by storm. As a new feature I will be reviewing a new episode every day for the next 8 days. I am watching the episodes in real time so please no spoilers from future episodes. With that in mind, please only continue reading if you have already seen the episode and you don’t mind spoilers yourself. Enjoy!
Coen Brothers love letter to the golden age of Hollywood is far too pleased with itself…
Documentary about how awesome George Lucas is… erm I mean Star Wars.
Empire of Dreams is an exhaustive, two and a half hour documentary chronicling the making of the first three Star Wars films. All the main cast members are featured with Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill both great value and underused. It is nice to see people like Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Kenny Baker (R2D2) and James Earl Jones (Vadar) speaking with such warmth and affection for a film franchise that changed all of their lives and the mix of interviews with archive footage makes for a compelling watch.
Unfortunately the bulk of the interviews are taken up by George Lucas who as always, is almost unbearably smug. Lucas’ tale of taking on Hollywood and winning should be inspirational but when accompanied by the gushing narration and Lucas’ constant sneer it becomes cloying rather quickly. Much more interesting is Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner who is very illuminating and of course the great Harrison Ford who cant hide his own reverence for the project behind his trademark cynicism.
Whilst Empire of Dreams is more propaganda than a candid peek behind the curtain, it is still an entertaining and well made documentary that is vital viewing for any Star Wars fan.
The world can relax. Phantom Menace this ain’t…
People have become so wary and tired of the constant streams of reboots, remakes and sequels. I am a fan of the Marvel universe but it is so ubiquitous that no Marvel release feels like an event any more. Harry Potter has come and gone. The Lord of the Rings franchise was let down by the sub standard Hobbit entries. Sometimes it is tempting to think that none of that film magic remains. There is a strong argument that The Phantom Menace is partly responsible for all of the above.
Phantom Menace was as successful commercially as it was reviled by it’s fan base. This set a dangerous precedent of Hollywood looking for anything with a pre existing audience and just feeding them dog shit because Phantom Menace showed this was possible and profitable. After walking out of the midnight showing of The Force Awakens at 2:41am I am fucking delighted to confirm that some of that old movie magic still exists.
All the things that made Star Wars fans wince from the prequels are pretty much gone. JJ Abrams has made a film as if the first three episodes barely existed. Gone is the dodgy CGI and the convoluted, incomprehensible plot. Gone is the shoddy acting and rushed dialogue. In it’s place are thrilling new characters for a whole different generation to fall in love with.
In Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Domhnall Gleeson, Abrams has assembled the most exciting up and coming cast he possibly could have and all three are a revelation. Boyega is funny and warm and believable. Isaac is probably the most sought after actor in the world at the moment and you can see why on this showing and Gleeson is unrecognisable as the slimy General Hux. Newcomer Daisy Ridley more than holds her own and Adam Driver does an excellent job as Kylo Ren.
I wont say much about the old guard as I don’t want to spoil too much but I am happy to confirm the characters from the original trilogy are utilized and realized brilliantly. Never did I think anything was out of character for them. Never did I think they were over or underused.
The Force Awakens is not without it’s flaws but then neither is A New Hope or even The Empire Strikes Back for that matter. The sometimes clunky and cheesy dialogue and the derivative plot are not burdens. The cute new droid clearly designed to sell shit loads of toys is not off putting. These are franchise trademarks as much as the crawling intro and the theme music.
I guess what I am trying to say is that The Force Awakens feels like a fucking Star Wars movie and that is all we ever wanted from the prequels. JJ Abrams and his astounding cast, with a little help from some old, no good nerf herder’s, have given us back everything that the disappointing sequels took away – the magic and excitement of the most beloved movies ever made.
Let your cynicism be washed away as mine was. The Force Awakens is about as good as it possibly could be.
Star Wars is back.
Reboot Chicken? Nope business as usual…
It may have been tempting for Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich to make something a bit more linear for the new audience these Star Wars specials were likely to attract. Instead of being more focused however, the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials continue the animated sketch show format and the zany humour. Unfortunately the hit and miss nature of Robot Chicken remains as well.
That being said the Star Wars specials are probably Robot Chicken‘s finest hour. It has always been a niche show so it is no surprise that they chose to shine a light on some of Star Wars more minor but still beloved cast members.
The main recurring characters here are Admiral Ackbar, Boba Fett and Emperor Palpatine and nearly every sketch involving that trio lands. A lot of the other stuff is forgettable but the musical numbers surprisingly work really well in a show that has had mixed levels of success in that area.
Robot Chicken has always been a bit of an acquired taste but there is no doubt they are passionate and knowledgeable about all areas of pop culture and it is this warmth for the subject matter that makes the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials a success.