Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Image is property of Disney and Lucasfilm

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Film Review

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Joonas Suotamo

Director: Ron Howard

Synopsis: Charting the origins of a young Han Solo as he escapes a desolate planet and finds a calling as a pilot and a smuggler, which sends him on an adventure where he meets a few familiar faces…

Review: Whenever a discussion regarding the greatest characters to have graced the big screen get discussed, one name that is very likely to crop up is everyone’s favourite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder, AKA Han Solo. Right from his very first appearance in the franchise, he just charmed his way into the affection of legions of fans across the galaxy.  So in the wake of the extremely successful Rogue One, comes the latest chapter in the Anthology franchise, taking a look at a much younger Han, and how he came to be the cocky smuggler we know and love

It is no secret that the production of this film ran into a few problems somewhat when original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were given their marching orders, perhaps they made the mistake in shooting first? With the duo ejected off the project, Ron Howard was handed the keys to the ship. It is not known how much Lord and Miller had filmed before their exit, nor to what extent their efforts are what we see in the finished product. Given those well documented production problems, there were some concerns about how the film would turn out. Though Rogue One also had some well document production problems of its own, the finished product stayed on target to deliver the goods. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Solo.

The start of a beautiful furry friendship…

The adventure that Star Wars veteran writer Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan take us on explores the early stages of Han’s life, how he forged a friendship with a certain Wookie and the beginnings of his life as a smuggler as he gets dragged into a mission alongside said Wookie, and a group of fellow smugglers. However the film severely suffers with its pacing as the initial stages really drag. Furthermore, once the plot finally goes into lightspeed, it is just extremely bland and not memorable in the slightest.

Though it might take some time to adjust to him, Alden Ehrenreich does a solid job as the young Han. Though it has to be said, there are plenty of actors who could have assumed that role and done an equally splendid job. In spite of that, and the enormous shoes that he had to fill, he does do his best to capture that roguish streak that made him such a memorable presence in the original trilogy. There is certainly enjoyment to be had in looking at how this unlikely pair became the duo we know they come to be, as is exploring the early relationship between Han and Lando, who is perfectly portrayed by Donald Glover. Certain characters get introduced and the audience is barely given a chance to get to know them before the plot moves forward.

Apart from Han and Lando, there is severe lack of development on many of these characters. And for the ones that do get some development, like Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra, it is flimsy at best. One thing that has so often been a staple of Star Wars films of the past was the presence of a strong compelling villain. There is a villain here, but due to a severe lack of development, he does not get the chance to leave a solid impression. Ultimately, this is also applicable for much of the rest of the cast, which is a shame when you consider the real talent of the actors involved. On that note, some of the cinematography on show here is really murky and just looks awful, which is baffling when you realise that the DP is Bradford Young, the man who was behind the lenses to the superb Arrival. And while everything is competently made, the direction from Howard is solid if unspectacular.

Usually with every SW film, there is at least one shot or scene that sticks in the mind, but with Solo these are few and far between. Furthermore, the the generic nature of the plot and its by-the-numbers execution leaves a lot to be desired, particularly when it is compared to the recent Star Wars films, both of the main new trilogy and the first Anthology film. With Han Solo, a character who never likes to be told the odds, the odds were stacked against this film, and sadly despite a super talented cast and production crew, it fell short of those lofty expectations that many perhaps expect from a Star Wars adventure. Don’t punch it Chewie, where’s that escape pod?

There is fun to be had, but the presence of the Star Wars name cannot disguise the very bland and forgettable nature of the story, even with a super talented cast and director.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Image is property of LucasFilm and Walt Disney

Star Wars: The Last Jedi  – Film Review

Cast: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Domnhall Gleeson,

Director: Rian Johnson

Synopsis: Following on from the events of The Force AwakensThe First Order is hot on the trails of the Resistance, while Rey seeks out the guidance of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.

This review will be 100% spoiler free.

Review: Very few films manage to become such events that build anticipation and excitement among audiences quite like Star Wars does. Though for a long time (a decade to be exact) no new films were made in the Star Wars universe, it never lost that magic and majesty that it carries for so many people. Though that was unlikely to ever diminish, as 2015’s The Force Awakens came along, it was the film the franchise needed to revitalise itself and get the force flowing through it once more.

Picking up almost immediately after the events of Force Awakens, without divulging too much information, the First Order is now aggressively hunting The Resistance, which is to be expected after you blow up a significant asset, namely Starkiller Base. Meanwhile over on Ahch-To, Luke Skywalker has chosen to hide himself away, due to a horrible event that took place in the past, which doesn’t bode well for Rey, who is seeking Luke out to return a significant possession of his, and for help in honing her Jedi powers.

For many a big criticism of Abrams’s efforts was that it was just a rehash of A New Hope, and while it is not a shot for shot remake, it does undeniably heavily borrow elements of that film. The reception of the prequels and how different they were to the original trilogy meant that the decision to make the first chapter of the new trilogy feel like the film that started all this was a sound decision. However, taking over from Abrams, Rian Johnson continues on what Abrams built so successfully and gives another strong addition to the franchise that continues at the themes that almost every film before it has touched upon.

For many the greatest film in this celebrated franchise is The Empire Strikes Back, and justifiably so too. It took the characters and developed them in extremely unique ways, and it’s clear Johnson is going for a similar vibe, but this is not just a rehash of Empire, it crafts a story that needs to be told, taking the characters and taking them in certainly very intriguing directions. Conflicts are occurring both between the First Order and the Resistance and intense personal conflicts are raging inside some of the characters. Of the familiar faces, Daisy Ridley is once again superb as Rey, adding real intensity into her performance as she goes on a journey to discover the answers to the questions that we had about her last time out. John Boyega likewise as Finn, is certainly a very likeable presence, as is the roguish charm of Poe Dameron. Of the newcomers, Laura Dern has an authoritative presence alongside the late Carrie Fisher’s Leia.

On the flip side, there’s a lot going on with Kylo Ren too, which given the heinous crime he committed against his father is understandable. But even then, his character has a lot on his plate, just like many of the characters here. Though once again, the Skywalker siblings are key pieces in this puzzle. Having had a mere cameo last time around, Luke has a lot more to do this time around and given that so much has happened to him since he decided to adopt the hermit lifestyle, there’s much to be explored and Hamill is once again terrific in the role. Though there is an obvious element of sadness surrounding Leia and the passing of Carrie Fisher, in what will be her final turn in the role, she bows out tremendously. That being said there are some new characters who could have really done with more fleshing out, and some characters who were so frustratingly underutilised previously are still not given the time to shine.

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Though the story does move along at a steady pace, there are moments in particular around the second act that really slow the film down, and in some cases seem almost completely out of place and for some it might take them completely out of the film. That being said, that does not take away from the brilliant direction that Johnson puts into this. Sometimes a film can have the feel that it was almost directed by a committee, absolutely not the case here. The film looks immaculate and the action scenes are superbly well handled. There are some scenes that could have been omitted but there’s plenty of scenes that will get the adrenaline flowing.

A key task of any chapter two in a trilogy is to leave the audience desperately wanting more by the time the credits start to role, that criteria has been met. What Johnson crafts here is so well done it’s easy to see why Disney has given him the green light to make a new Star Wars trilogy unrelated to the current events of the saga, or so we are led to believe at this moment in time. The task of completing this story for these characters now reverts back to the man who introduced the world to them, and given that excitement and interest in this franchise is now likely to continue to the end of time, can we somehow make the jump into lightspeed to December 2019 already?

Continuing on the foundations laid by Force Awakens, The Last Jedi packs plenty of emotional punch, taking the characters in exciting directions and setting the stage for what should be an enthralling conclusion to this new trilogy.

Posted in Film Feature

Star Wars: Top 5 Imperial Officers of the Empire

Written by Dominic Evans

We all know the stories of the “Rebel scum” in a galaxy far, far away, but what of the achievements and accomplishments of the Imperial Officers of the Empire? The bad guys we love to hate! Who were the officers who fought those insurgents, maintained order to the galaxy through fear and helped stabilise the first Galactic Empire? It would have been impossible for Emperor Palpatine and Lord Vader alone to maintain control and security, and I don’t think you would see the Sith undertaking any of the admin work! Prepare the single reactor ignition… You may fire when ready!

5. Colonel Yularen

 

Blink while watching the first meeting of the high ranking Imperial personnel aboard the first Death Star in A New Hope and you will miss him. The old man of experience (donning a crisp white tunic) began his Star Wars story as an unnamed background character that first got his name through a customisable card game! Wulff Yularen has since been handed a rich backstory.

Beginning as an admiral in the Republic Navy, he served gallantly in the Clone Wars, commanding a Cruiser while serving General Anakin Skywalker. A man who respects command and an admirer of bravery and public duty, Yularen became Colonel of the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) at the rise of the Empire, exposing instances of sedition in the Imperial Senate and later identifying and rooting out rebel spies. One adventure (season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels) had him on board the Chimaera with a blue-faced, red-eyed Chiss, exposing the rebel spy known as “Fulcrum”, Agent Kallus.

His presence was demanded on the Death Star to allay concerns of the station’s security because those pesky Rogue One Rebels stole the battle station’s technical plans. Colonel Wulff Yularen perished on board the Death Star on its destruction at the Battle of Yavin.

4.Grand General Tagge

“If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical readout of this battle station it is possible –however unlikely – that they might find a weakness and exploit it”.

General Cassio Tagge, General and Chief of the Imperial Army, was the only Imperial that took the threat posed by the Rebels seriously, following the theft of the Death Star plans. How right he was! In A New Hope, during the joint chiefs meeting, Tagge’s concerns about the Rebels building support in the Imperial Senate were dismissed heavily by Admiral Motti (who was thereafter choked out by Darth Vader who found “his lack of faith disturbing”). Tagge was not aboard the Death Star upon its destruction (as he was investigating Princess Leia’s false claims of a Rebel base on Dantooine) and was later praised for his foresight by the Emperor himself. He was promoted to Grand General and placed in charge of the Imperial military, charged with the Imperial’s expansion of the Outer Rim.

After the Battle of Yavin, due to the increasing disappointment the Emperor had in Vader, the part-man, part-machine was placed under Tagge’s command. Tagge was an effective and methodical analyst who was very critical of “Tarkin’s Folly” (the Death Star). He pondered on the amount of Super Star Destroyers the Empire could have built instead. Frightening thought! Commander of the Annihilator, Tagge’s power and authority grew, but so did his overconfidence. Holding the well-known Imperial trait, his arrogance blinded his belief that he could wield Vader as his own personal attack dog. How wrong he was after being so right! Vader ultimately killed Tagge the second after he was demoted following an attempted coup.

3. Director Krennic

Cunning. Ambitious. Unpredictable. Volatile. Devoid of compassion, mercy and regard for innocent lives. A working-class man who rose through Imperial ranks thanks to his ruthlessness to earn respect, his determination to make a name for himself and his born-given talent of being a master manipulator. Orson Krennic, Director of the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Imperial militarily and think-tank behind the might of the Death Star, ultimately fell under his own arrogance and obsessions. He was also the only man in the Empire who insisted on wearing a white cape!

After rising to the fore within the Republic Corps of Engineers, following his education within the exclusive Galactic Republic’s Future Program (where he met Galen Erso, the man behind the exhaust port), Krennic manipulated Galen into advancing the research on weaponising kyber crystals for the Death Star’s energy weapon. Working beyond his command, Krennic single-handedly orchestrated the creation of the battle station, utilising smugglers across the galaxy to supply the precious resources, turning them over to the Empire once finished. He was well-known for possessing memorable sarcastic tones: “Oh, look! Here’s Lyra. Back from the dead. It’s a miracle” when Lyra Erso appears with a blaster after Galen had said she died, and “Are we blind?!” following explosions across Scarif.

However, his downfall begun and ended with his grand rival, Grand Moff Tarkin. Krennic cunningly sprung a long-fought battle on Tarkin in the Salient system while he advanced Project Celestial Power behind his back to gain more favour with the Emperor. It therefore came as a shock to him, following the successful test on Jedha City, that Tarkin now claimed responsibility of the Death Star: “We stand here amidst MY achievement! NOT yours!“. Director Krennic was summoned to Vader’s castle on Mustafar in Rogue One. Obsessed with retaining control, he used this as a last-ditch attempt to manipulate Vader into organising an audience with the Emperor so as to recognise his achievements, despite his great fear of the mysterious Dark Lord. Even after being choked by the Force, knowing that he was still in charge of the Death Star’s operations brought a beaming smile to his face. He met his end (choking on his own aspirations!) at the Battle of Scarif, where Tarkin deployed the Death Star to eliminate the Empire base before the plans were extracted by the Rogue One Rebels. Krennic was ultimately killed by his obsession; somewhat poetic! I guess you now know why there was an empty chair at the joint chief meeting in A New Hope.

2. Grand Admiral Thrawn

“To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art”.

His name is Mitth’raw’nuruodo. Who? More commonly known as Grand Admiral Thrawn (the blue-skinned, red-eyed Chiss who made his debut in season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels), ultimate commander of the Chimaera . He was the only alien within the Empire’s chain of command that was exclusively made up of humans. He is THE master of strategy, tactics and war through the deconstruction of his enemies’ art. Art?! Thrawn’s obsession was based on the notion that in order to truly defeat one’s enemy, one must be mindful of the importance of understanding an enemy’s culture, art and philosophy, allowing him to delve into the psyche of the people he wished to destroy. Being a brilliant military strategist earned him countless victories over smugglers, spies, pirates and that pesky Rebellion. Because of his successes in utterly wiping out his opponents, Thrawn was not known to the rebellion at large, something he used to his advantage: “I will start my operations […] and pull the rebels apart piece by piece. They will be the architects of their own destruction”.

To gain access to the Empire, Thrawn faked his exile and bamboozled Stormtroopers into taking him before the Emperor (although his true purpose was to deduce the Empire’s potential might as an ally in combating the impending doom emanating from the Unknown Regions –theorised to be the threat of Snoke!). Thrawn’s ingenuity and tactical prowess caught the attention of the Emperor as well as his knowledge of the Unknown Regions (a dangerous and unchartered area of space where the Emperor believed to be the location of secret discoveries of the dark side). Thrawn’s knowledge was in part used to travel there, where the Empire’s remnants re-organised into the First Order.

His calm and collected demeanour, as well as his suave and sophisticated mannerisms masked his ambition and ruthlessness: “I do not require glory, only results for the Emperor”. The obsession with total annihilation of his enemies makes him very dangerous and his ultimate future is yet to be determined (season 4 of Star Wars: Rebels will map that out). But, where he has efficient and effective tactical precision, brilliant military prowess and considerable skill in hand-to-hand combat in the bucket loads, he has a great gap: political astuteness (believing it not to necessary in his attempt of perfecting the art of war). He therefore lost out on #1 to someone who had the entire package…

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1. Grand Moff Tarkin

The measuring stick for all Imperial Officers to follow. The poster boy! The perfect blend of ambition, ruthlessness, tactical and military prowess and arrogance which allowed him to shape his legacy within the Galactic Empire. Born into a wealthy family on Eriadu, Wilhuff Tarkin from the age of 11 was sent on his own into the untamed Carrion Plateau at months at a time to hone his predatory skills. To Tarkin, respect, discipline and obedience were of the utmost importance, and he learnt that everything could be taken away from him in a blink of an eye, even if he had spent a lifetime trying to obtain it. Life to Tarkin was a constant struggle for survival.

As a young man, his devotion to service and loyalty meant that he (on the advice of his mentor, Naboo politician Sheev Palpatine) pursued a path in both law enforcement and government. During the Clone Wars, he served as a Republic Captain under Jedi Master Even Piell. He was captured by Separatists after the Battle of Murkhana and taken to Lola Sayu, home to the impenetrable prison known as the Citadel (designed to hold renegade Jedi), only to be rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Ashoka Tano. Tarkin was always sceptical about the Jedi fronting the Republic forces: “I find their tactics ineffective. The Jedi Code prevents them from going far enough to achieve victory, to do whatever it takes to win”.

At the birth of the Empire, Tarkin was one of its strongest supporters and helped consolidate control through the use of ruthless tactics, overseeing mass arrests and executions. Tarkin was elevated to Grand Moff (the Empire’s first) and became regional Governor of the Outer Rim after uncovering a conspiracy involving political dissidents in a “Route 66”-like team-up with Darth Vader. As Grand Moff, he did not tolerate failure and often had ineffectual officers executed. He also became one of the only people to have correctly deduced the identity of Vader.

After being suitably impressed with the successful demonstration of the destructive power of the Death Star as it devastated the Holy City of Jedha, Tarkin (with his chilling smirk) utilised his political astuteness and immediately assumed complete authority of the battle station, despite the boisterous protests of Director Krennic. He thereafter developed a simple and brutal philosophy: fear of the Death Star’s planet killing super-weapon would suppress all resistance to the Empire. Tarkin demonstrated his cold and calculating mannerisms by blowing up Alderaan to demonstrate its “full power”, despite learning the location of the Dantooine rebel base.

But, even with his brilliant military strategic mind and unparalleled devotion and ruthlessness to the Empire, Tarkin’s “Folly” ultimately blinded him: “Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you over-estimate their chances!” Convinced of the battle station’s invulnerability until his end, Tarkin died on the Death Star, not solely because an unknown farm boy from the back water planet of Tatooine made the impossible shot, but because of his own arrogance.

So, after learning of the “heroics” of the most influential officers of the Empire, it is now over to you! Who is your favourite Imperial, and how would you rank them? Comment below! If you enjoyed reading this, please give the Facebook page a like and follow @ThrSilverScreen on Twitter.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars story (2016)

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Image is property of Lucasfilm Ltd and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rogue One: A Star Wars story – Film Review

Cast:  Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmad, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whittaker

Director: Gareth Edwards

Synopsis: Telling the tale of the brave rebels who upon hearing about the Empire’s construction of a deadly weapon capable of destroying entire planets, set out on a brave mission to find and steal the weapon’s plans.

Review: “There will be no episode 7” the words of one George Lucas back in 2005, and for a long time that looked as though Lucas’s stance would not change. This is of course until Disney came calling to the tune of 4 billion dollars, and last year Episode 7 did arrive courtesy of JJ Abrams and Disney. Of course Disney had no plans to stop at Episode 7, with as well as two films to complete the new trilogy, there would be as of right now, three anthology films to come as well, giving Star Wars fans across the galaxy one new film every year until 2020.

Of course, as Lucas himself found out, making a prequel or three can be a risky endeavour, so the new creative faces behind the resurgence of Star Wars decided to pitch a story that would not touch the existing saga, but one that would sit nicely between say a couple. In the case of Rogue One, it sits between Episodes III and IV, the focus is on a rag-tag group of rebels led by Jyn Erso (Jones) who make a daring move for the plans to the lethal Death Star weapon. The franchise has boasted plenty of great action down the years, but rarely have they ever felt like it was truly Star WARS. Well enter director Gareth Edwards and writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy who really put the war in Star Wars and then some!

Edwards proved he could handle action well like he did in 2014’s Godzilla reboot, and here he demonstrates his considerable talents once again. The action particularly in the third act is utterly compelling and just brilliant to watch in all of its glory. It’s almost like Saving Private Ryan, but in Space! Much like what Abrams did with Awakens, the world Edwards has also created just looks and feels like Star Wars, with a few familiar faces in there brought incredibly to life by the wonder that is CGI but of course some new characters, all of whom are compelling to watch, but some are more developed than others. The cinematography too is tremendous, and much like Awakens, there is a great emphasis on the use of practical sets, and not relying on Green Screen, bonus points if you can spot the use of a London Underground station as an Imperial base!

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Image is property of Disney.

Jones is excellent as Jyn Erso, a character who has had a difficult past, but after a big discovery becomes personally connected with the story, she’s the lead and the most well developed, because she is a key part of the Imperial’s plans for reasons that will not be disclosed here, but there are others who absolutely shine as well. Cassian Andor (Luna) is excellent as the main support for Jyn, with Donnie Yen as a blind Rebel warrior at one with the force, and an absolute badass! Comic relief characters often come in droid shaped sizes, and this void is filled excellently by newbie K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. Beyond these guys, the rest of the crew are a little bit light on character development, but the aforementioned trio certainly aren’t. On the flip side there’s one key new villain in Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic, almost your typical pantomime villain, who sneers at just about everyone and anything. Of course one Darth Vader makes his presence known once again, largely thanks to James Earl Jones’s booming voice and it’s an absolute joy to see one of cinema’s best ever villains back on the big screen.

Many took aim at Awakens  for being too similar to A New Hope. For sure there are some obvious visual nods and throwbacks, to please the fans, but ultimately given the poor reception of the prequels it was the safe route to have taken to launch the new trilogy. Of course Rogue One does do something similar with neat little visual nods to certain characters but by the time the enthralling third act arrives, gone are the Star Wars familiarities, it’s all out war in every sense of the word, with reminiscent shots of World War II and epic battles occurring on the beaches of this planet, and the CGI remains at a very high standard, with Michael Giacchino stepping in as a late replacement for Alexandre Desplat, delivering another superb score, the first not composed by John Williams.

For Disney, their colossal investment to take control of this franchise is certainly looking to be a wise decision, and one that is looking set to pay off big time. The studio raked in the cash following the release of Force Awakens. Although it’s unlikely that Rogue One will make the 2 billion The Force Awakens made, there’s every chance that Rogue One will make some serious cash. Right now, The Force is strong with this franchise, and the all powerful Disney machine in many ways resembles the Galactic Empire in terms of its sheer power, but Disney certainly doesn’t seem to have any plans to build a giant planet killing weapon!

This is everything the prequels should have been but really weren’t. It manages to strike a great balance between everything you know and love about this franchise, whilst also going in some exciting new directions.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

Top 10 Best Films of 2015

2015, a year that broke box office records here, there and everywhere! A return to a galaxy far far away, more dinosaurs, more superheroes, a fair few spy movies, the revival of some long running franchises, and some original pieces of work thrown into the mix as well. It was a promising year for movies, and it some cases it delivered, some it did not. In any case, there were more than a handful of great movies that came out in 2015. With all that said it is time, now that some of those limited release films that came out at the end of the year have reached me here in the UK ( I am classing these as 2015 releases, as per IMDB) With that said, I now give you my picks for the 10 best movies of the year.

One thing to bear in mind, is that grades here do not matter, a film may get a high grade or the perfect grade, it will not necessarily mean that film will be the best film of the year, this is my list of my favourite movies that I had the most fun with or enjoyed the most.  Before I get into the body of my list I do have some honourable mentions, films that were awesome and that didn’t quite make the list with there being 10 spaces, but were still a lot of fun.

The first of these is Kingsman: The Secret Service, this movie knew it was a silly spy movie, but it was extremely entertaining and very violent in places, but the action was extremely exciting, and we got to see Colin Firth beat people up! Next up is Spectre, the 24th James Bond film. Now I know some people, including one very good friend of mine, did not like this movie at all but I thought it was a well directed film with some great action sequences, and a very sexy but badass Bond girl in Lea Seydoux. The villain played by Christoph Waltz was admittedly a little underutilised, and while it did revert to established Bond formula a bit too much, it was still a blast to watch, although it’s not on the same level as Skyfall or Casino Royale.  Third is The Walk, the new film by Robert Zemeckis, this was a gripping watch, telling the true story of Phillippe Petit, the man who strung a tightrope between the Twin Towers. While a little slow to get going, the scene where he walks the wire was among the most gripping scenes I saw all year.

10. Ant Man

Read my Ant-Man review

Image rights belong to Marvel Studios

When the year began and we had two new MCU films to look forward to, nearly everyone was more excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron than Ant Man, yet for many, the former was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps suffering from very large expectations. And while Ultron certainly was not a massive failure, it was not nearly as enjoyable as Ant Man. When Edgar Wright exited Ant Man, many thought it was a doomed project destined for failure, yet it came through in great style. Paul Rudd was tremendous as the titular character, Michael Douglas was fantastic as Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly was also in great form, it exceeded all expectations and ensured a sequel has been added into Phase 3 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

9. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Read my Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation review

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The fifth entry in this franchise that continues to pack awesome action and among the handful of spy movies that were released in 2015, Rogue Nation is arguably the best, and has a claim to be the best Mission Impossible movie to date. Tom Cruise as usual doing all of his owns stunts including actually hanging onto a moving plane, as well as the introduction of the awesome Ilsa Faust played by the amazing Rebecca Ferguson, as well more awesome humour providing by the great Simon Pegg. Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay and direction was excellent and it’s no surprise that he’s back on board to direct the sixth film in the franchise.

8.The Martian

Read my The Martian review

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A real return to form for director Ridley Scott, whose recent films were disappointments to many, so to see him come back with a truly great movie was awesome to see. Matt Damon was brilliant in the lead role as a man who is left behind on Mars. The screenplay was sharp and surprisingly very humorous given the dire nature of his circumstances, and the rest of the very large cast were also great with the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean all giving excellent performances, with amazing visuals and outstanding special effects that were almost a throwback to Scott’s early science fiction roots.

7. Mad Max Fury Road

Read my Mad Max Fury Road review

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The fourth film in this franchise, and the film that could and should rewrite the book on how to film action movies. It was an utterly thrilling film filled with practical effects and mind blowing action sequences, with cars, explosions and flaming guitars to boot, and not a shaky camera to be found anywhere. Tom Hardy didn’t have much dialogue but he was excellent in the title role, but the person who stole the show was undoubtedly that of Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, showing Hollywood writers how to write an awesome badass female character who doesn’t need a man to show what a strong character she can be. Take note please writers and directors!!!

6. The Hateful Eight

Read my The Hateful Eight review

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The eight film by Mr Quentin Tarantino, and another superb addition to his near flawless filmography. A brilliantly shot film with wonderful cinematography, a terrific score by Ennio Morricone, and a tremendously talented cast including Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L Jackson, it’s not quite on the same level as Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained, but it was still a well written and very entertaining film with a great mystery at its core that was just fascinating to witness on the big screen, of course with Tarantino’s signature dialogue and violence.

5. Creed

Read my Creed review

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The seventh instalment of this series, and it might just be the best the series has ever produced, certainly one of the best performances ever from Sly Stallone that has been ensuring he has received well deserved awards nominations and victories, but another top notch performance from Michael B Jordan. The fight scenes were tremendously well handled, and the story to boot, whilst taking many notes from the original, was an inspired decision as we have a new Rocky for a new generation.

4. Ex Machina

Read my Ex Machina review

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In this age of films when prequels, sequels and reboots dominate, it is always refreshing to see an original film be brought to the table and when they’re as thrilling, intriguing, and exciting as Ex Machina was, then that is a bonus. This was a mesmerising take on what is very familiar ground in the sci fi genre, artificial intelligence. The main trio of actors, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander were all magnificent in their roles in a beautifully directed film with a very sharp screenplay from Alex Garland which also marked his directorial debut.

3.  The Revenant

Read my The Revenant review

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Sixth time lucky in terms of landing that elusive golden statue for one Leonardo DiCaprio?  He bagged the Golden Globe so here’s hoping but if he doesn’t win it for his terrific performance in this film, I don’t know what will win him the honour. His dialogue is minimal but he threw everything into this role and it was a gripping and enthralling movie from beginning to end, with another great performance from Tom Hardy who has had quite an extraordinary twelve months. The action scenes, most notably with the bear did not make comfortable viewing, but the cinematography was perfect, it was a visual masterpiece and is being bestowed with some well deserved awards and cemented Alejandro G Iñárritu’s reputation as a truly formidable director.

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2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Read my Star Wars: The Force Awakens review

Image rights belong to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Bad Robot Productions

The anticipation for the return of Star Wars was off the charts, with real pressure on the shoulders of JJ Abrams to deliver a satisfying film after the disappointments that were the Prequels. However, Abrams pulled through and ensured this franchise returned to form. Like with Creed, it did borrow a lot from previous films, but with seven films now in the franchise, there is kind of an established formula to follow that all six films previously tried to follow, with some being more successful than others. However, the story was thrilling with exciting new characters like Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren, as well as the old cast all returning. It got the new trilogy off to a perfect start, and is still raking in the dough.

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1. Inside Out

Read my Inside Out review

inside out

The animation juggernaut that is Pixar has produced some of the most beloved animation films of all time. The likes of Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Incredibles all jump to mind. And after some sequels, they reverted back to the original ideas and produced what for me, might just be their best film yet, in Inside Out. This film, exploring the inner workings of a girl ‘s mind and her emotions after she moves home, was simply put, genius.  As human beings we all experience different emotions at significant moments in our lives, and to see this portrayed on screen was just a joy (see what I did there?) to witness. These animations do work on two levels that give lots for kids and adults to enjoy, but this film definitely panders more towards the adults with its story that will resonate with all who see it. Gorgeously animated with a mixture of great humour and some very emotional moments that will bring you to tears, and a tremendous cast of voice actors including Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black and Mindy Kaling. Inside Out is certainly one of the best animated films so far this decade, and my favourite film of 2015!

So there you have it, my best films of 2015. What were your picks? Comment below and tell me what were your favourite movies of 2015, or feel free to tweet me at @TTSilverScreen, and be sure to like me over on Facebook!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens (2015)

Image rights belong to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Bad Robot Productions
Image rights belong to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Bad Robot Productions

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens -Film Review

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker

Director: J.J. Abrams

This review is 100% spoiler free

Synopsis: Three decades have passed since the events of Return of the Jedi, from the ashes of the old Empire rises a new threat in the form of the First Order who threaten to unleash more tyranny on the galaxy. The key is the location of someone important who’s disappeared, with the Resistance, headed up by Leia Organa, also on the hunt for this vital information.

Review: It kind of goes without saying, that Star Wars is one of the biggest franchises the world of movies has ever seen, and when the announcement of three more films were coming to a galaxy near us, it was glorious news, and music to the ears of every fan of this franchise. With each little bit of information that was revealed, from the cast, to the director, to the trailers. Excitement and anticipation for this new Star Wars  film has been massive. So much so that some fans were afraid it would disappoint. Well fear not young padawans, because JJ Abrams and his writers, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, stayed on target to ensure this franchise has a much needed return to form.

The prequels, while they had some good points were ultimately a missed opportunity. The effects were there to make 3 more brilliant films in the wake of the original trilogy, but this opportunity was squandered. From the outset JJ Abrams wanted to return to practical effects, whilst obviously using CGI where necessary. What’s more the prequels suffered from a lack of an absorbing and engaging story.

ForceAwakens

With JJ being such a fan of the original, it is very apparent that he knew what the audience wanted, and the story, without straying into spoilers is very engaging and gripping to watch. There’s no nonsensical talks about treaties or whatever, it’s the sort of exciting driven plot that was so successful to create this beloved universe. From the off, it’s pulsating action that keeps the audience engaged from the first scene to the last scene. It’s everything we wanted from the prequels, which on the whole, the prequels failed to give us.

With the original trilogy, we got a great ensemble of characters that we liked and wanted to root for. Which somehow frittered away with the prequels, but once again there is a great batch of very interesting and developed characters. First of all we have Daisy Ridley as Rey, a scavenger on Jakku who through circumstances ends up being pursued by the villainous First Order along with John Boyega’s Finn, a stormtrooper gone rogue. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, the Resistance’s best pilot. Flying the flag for the dark side is Adam Driver’s ominous Kylo Ren, and the sinister General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Andy Serkis’s mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke.

All of the principle cast are electric in their roles but special mentions must go to Boyega and Ridley, especially Ridley. Almost an unknown prior to her casting, she gives such a powerful and real performance that her name will be remembered for a very long time to come. John Boyega, another relative unknown is another name that will reach into the stratosphere and beyond. Kylo Ren is an antagonist that definitely ranks as among the best the saga has seen, he’s very menacing and frightening, and his back story is very intriguing and dark in equal measure, with his motivations being very crystal clear.

The chemistry between new and old characters is also magnetic. You’d think that a newcomer like Ridley couldn’t stand up to someone like Harrison Ford, but she does and then some. Ford as Han Solo is his usual charming, arrogant self and even after all this time, he still absolutely owns the role, as does Carrie Fisher in her role as General Leia Organa, as she now calls herself. Throughout the film there are definite homages to the original trilogy, but they don’t come off as just downright rip offs at all. It’s all very well executed, from the direction to the effective use of practical effects. It’s no secret that the prequels were effects driven movies and the notion that these could drive the plot was one of their biggest mistakes, as such there were none of those mistakes repeated here. The effects help the story on but the core element of the story is very much driven by the characters and their journey.

With all that said, there is only really one major nitpick. For all the great characters that we got that were not downright infuriating to watch, some characters did not feel fully utilised and some were left somewhat underdeveloped. However, the mistakes of the past were not repeated, and Abrams has ensured that this new trilogy has got itself off to a near perfect start with an excellent cast, great screenplay, exciting action, solid use of practical and special effects where necessary. And of course Mr John Williams’s music is as brilliant as it always has been. The franchise is full light speed ahead now,  and all eyes will now be on Episode VIII, so it’s over to you Rian Johnson!

A return to form for Star Wars after the mishap of those prequelsexciting characters,  a terrific story with some truly compelling villains and a solid combination of practical and special effects. The new trilogy, off to a perfect start, it got!  Hmmmmmm.

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Posted in 1980-1989, Film Review

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

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Image rights belong to 20th Century Fox and LucasFilm Ltd

Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi – Film Review

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Frank Oz, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid

Director: Richard Marquand

Synopsis: With the Empire seemingly victorious, the small band of surviving rebels must retrieve Han Solo from Jabba the Hut, and prevent the Empire from claiming total victory over the Rebellion by destroying the Empire’s brand new Death Star battle station. While Luke is battling to try and restore his father to the good side.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Review: When the previous film in your franchise got pretty much everything right and made one of the best movies anyone has ever made ever, the sequel to said film was always going to have a very tough act to follow. Thus sadly for Richard Marquand’s Return of the Jedi, it doesn’t live up to either The Empires Strikes Backnor George Lucas’s original. It does have its shortcomings, yet despite this, it does have something to say for itself. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had and it does wrap up the original trilogy nicely.

The Empire struck back hard in the last film, and aims to move in for the kill with the construction of a brand new Death Star in a bid to defeat the Rebel Alliance once and for all. Similarly, the Rebels seek to make a last ditch effort to destroy the Empire’s brand new battle station. All the while, following the revelation at the end of Empire, Luke is determined that he can bring his father back to the good side.  With Empire, the tone was understandably a lot more darker with the Empire claiming a glorious win over the rebels, Han Solo trapped in carbonite, Luke’s hand chopped off, and while that tone is maintained in numerous parts, there is a return to a bit more jovial and upbeat moods, starting with the scene in Jabba’s Palace.

R2D2 as a waiter, ridiculous music by some sort of 80s style pop band, dancing, it’s all a bit ridiculous at times, but you cannot help but laugh and smile, for the most part, as there are some more annoying changes (we’ll get to more of that later.) Unnecessary CGI creatures but they’re thankfully not on show for very long. The true introduction of Jabba the Hutt and he’s this slimy nasty slug like being that you just detest every time you see him on screen, and cheer when he duly gets strangled by Princess Leia in her slave outfit, which quite possibly make some people lose their minds. Criticism has been aimed at the fact that she’s being totally devalued and reduced to a sex object, which is fair enough but ultimately that is the point, and it’s one of many reasons to dislike Jabba.

It’s here that we come to the crux of the story. We have seen Luke transition from a whiny brat (remind you of anyone?) to an awesome badass Jedi, courtesy of Yoda, who we see again briefly who has some more vital information to part before he goes to “forever sleep.” The scene with Yoda is enjoyable and there is more humour to be found, but it is ultimately a bit too short. There could and should have been more scenes with our little green friend before his passing. His training complete he goes off to try and turn his father back to the good side, enter Emperor Palpatine, the one who is truly pulling Vader’s strings and the one who has overseen all the death and destruction in the Galaxy. Ian McDiarmid plays him brilliantly, from his posture, to the make up to his voice. Like Jabba there is something just abhorrently grotesque about him, but he provides some fascinating viewing with some more memorable dialogue, and another very emotional ending with Vader redeeming himself by saving Luke from being fried by the Emperor’s Force Lightning.

While all this is happening, the Rebels are preparing their attack on the second Death Star: from space in the Battle of Endor, and down on Endor itself with Han, Leia, Chewie and co aiming to take down the shield that is protecting the Death Star. All these scenes are very well handled but mainly the Battle of Endor. It doesn’t quite reach Battle of Hoth levels of awesomeness but it isn’t far away. Similarly, the ensuing battle on Endor is also thrilling, albeit the presence of those fuzzy bears, otherwise known as Ewoks, does irritate some, and it is easy to see why. Although cute and fuzzy, these bears do feel somewhat out of place, and the fact that they helped to topple the evil Empire with sticks and stones, does leave some scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Empire was spared from a lot of changes, just because it was so damn good, but Jedi has had some rather grating changes. The aforementioned CGI creatures in Jabba’s Palace. The stupid “noo” Vader makes when throwing the Emperor to his doom. The brilliance of that scene is that even though he has a mask on, you can see from the camera work that Vader is conflicted as he watches his son seemingly die in front of him. The addition of the stupid “noo” just ruins the greatness of the scene. But by far the most infuriating change is the replacing of Sebastian Shaw as the ghost Anakin right at the end, with the actor who played him in the prequels  (I refuse to even say his name.) With Obi Wan and Yoda in their older bodies, the change to make Anakin his younger self just makes ZERO sense.

But with all that said, there is still much to be enjoyed with the closing chapter of the original trilogy. John Williams’s score remains as perfect as ever, and there’s plenty of action to keep the pulses up right to the end, and it closed the book on the trilogy that remains to many one of the best trilogies ever put to film, and for good reason, because it deserves to be.

Not as good as Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back, and with probably the most amount of annoying later edition changes, but there’s still plenty to enjoy with some solid thrilling action, and a good deal of heart and emotion too. 

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Posted in 1980-1989, Film Review

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

empire strikes back
Image rights belong to 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back –  Film Review

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Frank Oz, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams

Director: Irvin Kershner

Synopsis: With the Death Star being destroyed, the Empire and Darth Vader are out in pursuit of vengence against the Rebel Alliance. While Han and Leia fight the Empire, Luke goes off in search of a Jedi Master to become a Jedi. All the while Vader is in red hot pursuit of Luke.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!

Review: How on earth do you top a film that had a monumental impact on pop culture and changed cinema forever? That was the unenviable task facing the individuals on the production team of the sequel to George Lucas’s phenomenal film. Lucas himself opted not to direct the sequel and the role was passed down to Irvin Kershner. A daunting challenge, but one that he rose to in magnificent style as they helped to make what is, simply put, one of the greatest films of all time.

With Lucas’s first film, we got introduced to this glorious and vast world, as well as our group of fascinating and interesting characters that you came to care about deeply. With this second instalment of the original trilogy, it takes both of these and expands on both of them, giving even great depth and development to our protagonists as well as our antagonists, and all the while exploring whole new worlds within this already wide universe. It’s a sequel done right in just about every way imaginable from the script to the directing to the score. It is pure cinematic perfection.

As the film’s title may suggest, the tone of this instalment is considerably more darker right from the get go, with the Empire ruthlessly seeking out the Rebels after the Death Star’s destruction. Vader in particular, now with no more Grand Moff Tarkin to hold him back is mercilessly killing the generals who displease him or  if they make a grave error, then there is no hiding place. There is no patience nor compassion at all with Vader in his quest to hunt down Luke Skywalker, and this includes torturing Han just for the sake of luring Luke into a trap. It is this mercilessness and pure villainy, as well as his booming voice and his unique breathing, that makes him one of greatest villains in the history of cinema.

So many scenes in this film have since become iconic pieces of  film-making. For one the, Battle of Hoth with the iconic Imperial Walkers. The first film did boast some extraordinary special effects (before Lucas became obsessed with them) but here in Empire, the effects are just as good and in some cases better.  While there isn’t as much action as its predecessor, the action that is on show is as equally mesmerising as the first film. Effects that remain as solid today as they did upon the film’s release almost thirty-five years ago. For instance, the aforementioned Battle of Hoth, the asteroid field, the iconic battle between Luke and Vader, it’s all perfectly well executed. What’s more, this battle as well as boasting some very memorable dialogue, also includes what is quite possibly the greatest movie twist of all time,  in which Vader reveals himself to be Luke’s father.  It’s brilliant, it’s memorable and it’s one of many reasons why this is the best movie in the franchise, and one of the best movies ever made.

The first film introduced us to our awesome ensemble cast, but it is here and through Lawrence Kasdan’s and Leigh Brackett’s screenplay this next chapter goes in a very different direction and goes in some very dark directions, that some directors may have baulked at. The relationships are tested to the extreme and our heroes are indeed in some very perilous predicaments. What’s more, this chapter introduces us to a handful of new and awesome characters, namely Yoda and Lando, The former, undoubtedly one of the best characters ever written, with some absolutely brilliant such as “do or do not, there is no try.” This among others are examples of lines which can and should be used by everyone in their lives at some point.

Can we really encase one of our main heroes in frozen carbonite and leave the film on a massive cliffhanger? Yes, yes they could. Can another one of our heroes have his hand chopped off and choose to fall voluntarily to his possible death? Again yes we can. It is bold and brave storytelling, but it is one of the many reasons that makes Empire Strikes Back so memorable. The film is littered with iconic dialogue, but none more so than the scene just before Han is put into carbonite. “I love you,” says Leia, and what should have been ” I love you too” was changed by Harrison Ford to “I know.” A master stroke by Ford and credit to the director for agreeing with the change as it is one of the most emotional moments of the original trilogy. John Williams’s score is again just perfection, and some of the best music ever written and composed for the big screen.

It is also the film with the least amount of change in it when compared with the rest of the trilogy. The bar was set very high following our introduction to this world, but Kershner and his team knocked it out of the park and in some style. There are no two ways about it, The Empire Strikes Back is cinematic gold.

Perfect in just about every way, from characters, script, action, effects, score. The best film in the franchise without a shadow of a doubt. 

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Posted in 1970-1979, Film Review

Star Wars (1977)

star-wars-iv-a-new-hope-poster1
Image rights belong to Lucasfilm Ltd and 20th Century Fox

Star Wars – Film Review

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guiness, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew

Director: George Lucas

Synopsis: A young farmer gets recruited by an old Jedi along with two droids and a smuggler in a mission to stop the evil Galactic Empire from bringing death and destruction in the galaxy, and to rescue Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Darth Vader.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!

Review: If ever there was a debate on films that have left their marks on the film industry, and indeed the entertainment industry in general, you would be hard pressed to find a film that has had the extensive impact that a film that was released in 1977 did. This film is of course Star Wars, and its impact is almost immeasurable. From the revolutionary effects, to the wondrous score, to the exciting story and instantaneously memorable characters, not to mention knocking Spielberg’s Jaws out in terms of the box office. This film had everything a film fan could want, and it is easy to see why it is still loved by legions of fans across the world, and remains insanely popular, nearly forty years after it was first unleashed on the world.

Immediately, right from the off, the sheer scale of this universe is just mind blowing. With every hint of dialogue, the universe is grown and becomes more and more expansive. The iconic “In a galaxy far far away…” is fully realised as it is made to feel that this is a world in which you can go and visit, but ultimately you can’t (sob.) With the incredible world set up, we need our characters, and back when Lucas could write compelling and exciting characters and not have some whiny kid moaning about how much he hates something.

Although having said that our main hero, Luke does have this attitude to begin with, but through some tragic circumstances, he is changed and grows as a character.  Before long we meet a character who many (for good reason) see as one of the finest characters put to screen, Han Solo. A smuggler by trade, cocky, but awesome and a lot of fun to watch, and for the record, it has been said many times, but it’s worth saying again: Han DEFINITELY shot first! Of course, there are lots of other popular characters, the likes of Princess Leia,  Obi Wan Kenobi,  Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO,  and all are played brilliantly by their respective actors in what is one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled. The connection between the audience and these characters is very strong, much like the force!

Of course with all the good characters, there are the villains. We have a character many consider to be one of the greatest and most iconic villains the world of film has ever seen, Darth Vader. Ruthless, menacing and very frightening, with the booming voice of James Earl Jones. However initially he is not top of the tree of the Dark Side, that honour belongs to Grand Moff Tarkin, brilliantly played by the late Peter Cushing, the man keeps Vader in check, preventing him from force choking everyone. All the while, the Empire is making their mark with the colossal Death Star they have constructed, that has the ability to devastate planets with just one shot, and the Rebel Alliance and their attempts to destroy this space station of terror.

The film boasts plenty of memorable scenes and lines, from “that’s no moon! It’s a space station!” to “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” to “I find your lack of faith disturbing!” With these great lines of dialogue, there are more than a few great scenes: Han VS Greedo, The Mos Eisley Cantina scene, Vader VS Obi Wan,  and the final Rebel Assault on the Death Star to name but a few. Iconic and brilliant film-making all round, with effects that still hold up today and will do for a very very long time to come. What is also iconic is John Williams’ score, so recognisable and so loved by all. Like all great scores, it adds so much to the events on screen, giving certain events so much more impact and make them that more memorable and iconic in equal measure.

For sure, since its release, there has been much tampering with the original theatrical release, and a lot of those changes have irked fans. For good reasons, there are some changes that just don’t make much sense, namely the Han VS Greedo scene, and the addition of a bunch of unnecessary CGI creatures that just add nothing to the plot. Yet for all of the unnecessary changes, the core elements of the film remain unchanged, and the film remains one of the most iconic pieces of film making ever. Even more so considering the problems that were experienced in the production of the film, with many wondering if all of the efforts were even going to come to fruition. They did, and in terrific style. Star Wars remains timeless, and it will probably remain so for decades and decades to come, even more so with the planned trilogy and spin off films that audiences have got coming their way over the next decade.

A classic in every sense of the word, great characters, exciting story, terrific action and an iconic score will ensure this film will never escape the galaxy that is popular culture.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Star Wars Episode III:Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Revenge f the sith
Image rights belong to Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – Film Review

Cast: Hayden Christensen, Ewen McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Christopher Lee, Samuel L Jackson

Director: George Lucas

Synopsis: Set three years after Attack of the Clones,  after Chancellor Palpatine is abducted by the sinister General Greivous, Anakin and Obi-Wan set out on  a mission to rescue him. All the while, feelings of doubt and darkness are creeping into Anakin’s consciousness.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!

Review: It was the big selling point of the whole Prequel trilogy when it was first announced that three new films were going to be made. The selling point being the transformation of one character’s turn from good to really REALLY bad. Therefore, after two really poor first chapters that were almost devoid of the action and drama that made the original trilogy the much beloved films they are. Fans must have wondered if there was any hope for this final instalment and thankfully it wasn’t a hat-trick of complete disasters, although it could have gone that way.

Immediately, the film certainly offers A LOT more than the previous two almost put together, with the CGI being much improved, and the action and light sabre scenes in particular being much more efficiently handled. It is engaging and interesting to watch and for a change, there is a coherent plot and story for the viewer to absorb and watch with interest, as we watch one man transform himself into arguably the greatest villain cinema has ever seen. Although the process getting there is a little bumpy and is in some ways a bit rushed, one minute he’s Anakin and then bang it’s “Arise, Lord Vader!” It was an extremely sudden change although it’s clear it had been building in him for a long time.

One of the main problems with the prequel trilogy is a lack of a compelling villain. With Darth Vader it was demonstrated how to make a villain effective across a trilogy but here with three individual villains for each movie, something is missing. General Grievous, while he is arguably the best of the villains in the prequel trilogy with his sinister voice and presence, he is again horrendously underutilised before being abruptly killed off, although the fight leading up to his demise was some of the best scenes we got in the prequels. Indeed there are many action scenes packed throughout the film that certainly provide a lot more enjoyment than the previous two films, with the opening battle scene actually boasting some incredible CGI, or the battle with the Wookies and the Droids on the awesome sounding planet of Kashyyyk.

Yet unfortunately like its predecessors, this film is again bogged down by some poor dialogue/acting/ screen-writing (delete where appropriate.) The most guilty offender here is once again Hayden Christensen. His performance is much better than the previous film, and there are no nonsensical lines about sand or whatever, but there are still some horrifically bad moments that make you wonder how they even ended up in the finished film. In addition, while the final battle between Obi Wan and Anakin/Vader is undeniably cool, it is a little overlong and choreographed to a ridiculous amount of detail. The film isn’t completetely devoid of acting ability, but the likes of Ewan McGregor and Samuel L Jackson are the best of a bad bunch, with Natalie Portman again being a bit stilted in terms of her acting.

Overall the prequel trilogy, even though there are those who defend them rigorously will go down in history as such a missed opportunity. With the advancement in effects, there was a chance to create more excellence, but overall they really missed the mark. Yet for all their faults, they made a lot of money and ensured the franchise survived, although it could have been very different. But Revenge of the Sith is without a doubt the best of the trilogy, a compelling story, much more interesting action sequences and we get to see the birth of one of cinema’s most iconic villains, even if we now know what a stroppy little brat he was in parts before his turn. Thank you very much Mr Lucas (!)

Much improved from Episode 2 with a considerably more interesting plot and some more developed characters, but poor writing, acting and dialogue, once again bogs down this from reaching the soaring heights of the original trilogy. 

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