So, it’s official. Solo is the first ever Star Wars flop. It’s got a fairly good critical reaction but people just aren’t exactly flocking to see it. And I can kind of see why. It’s only been about 6 months since the last Star Wars film was released and it all seems a bit unnecessary. Out of all the people in the Star Wars universe who fans may have wanted to make a standalone film about, Han Solo may not have been the top of everyone’ list. Yes, we all loved the scruffy looking nerf herder in the original trilogy but did we need to see his life pre-Princess Leia? He was a fan favourite but, as a character, he was so tied up with Harrison Ford that it didn’t make sense to recast him. But, clearly the good people at Disney believed differently and started making an origin story for the ultimate anti-hero. And it turned into a huge fucking disaster. There were so many issues with this film that it’s impressive it was even made at all. But, as we’re seeing, there was clearly some sort of curse on this film. Maybe Harrison Ford has been dabbling in black magic or maybe Star Wars fans are just being more judgemental and stubborn than usual? Because let’s be honest, they have a history of not tolerating new things. So how bad could Solo really be?
Thanks to my impromptu holiday over Christmas I didn’t get to upload my review of Star Wars Episode 8 on time. It’s been about 10 days since I saw the film and I’ve loads of time to acquaint myself with the general reactions to the film. The critical stuff has, mostly, been very positive with people praising Rian Johnson for taking some risks whilst also remaining faithful to the original trilogy. However, as you’d expect from the Star Wars franchise, the fanboys be pissed. Even before I’d seen the film I’d glanced at an article claiming fans were starting a petition to get the film removed from the canon. I mean, for fuck’s sake guys. This is why we can’t have nice things. Fans were up in arms about the film because it was too different from the previous films. First they complain that The Force Awakens is too similar to A New Hope and now The Last Jedi is too different. Well, how the fuck is anyone supposed to make a film within those parameters? Before I went to see the film, a girl I work with complained that it was underwhelming. She’s also the person who described Rogue One as the worst Star Wars film of all time. She typifies the view of the old fanboys who can’t see a Star Wars film that is centred around the Skywalker family. There’s more to the force and this universe than Luke Skywalker and, I for one, am ready to find out more. I can’t promise that my hatred of the reactions out there won’t have an influence on my review but it’s not like it’s going to be a problem. I’m not influencing anyone to change their mind about this film. It’s far too divisive.
- TUESDAY’S REVIEWS – A Christmas Prince (2017)
I’ve been feeling super Christmassy of late so I made the decision to watch as many Christmas films as possible. I started with this new Netflix classic that I’ve not been able to avoid of late. Is it the new must-see festive flick? Find out here.
- BOOK POST – 12 Days of Christmas Book Tag
I didn’t have a book to review this week so I had to pick a random book tag to do. It seemed appropriate considering my Christmas theme. Want to know more about me? Click here.
- TBT – Angel of Christmas (2015)
After trawling through Netflix for another random Christmas film I came across this gem. It’s very similar to A Christmas Prince but with added angels. What could go wrong? Find out here.
- Autumn by Ali Smith
- Women & Power by Mary Beard – Mary Beard writing a feminist manifesto? I mean as if I could say no to this?! This sounds perfect and I just couldn’t resist anymore. It wasn’t very expensive and isn’t very long. I can’t wait to read this.
- Nutshell by Ian McEwan – I’ve wanted to buy this for ages because it sounds amazing. I mean it’s like Hamlet but with a fetus instead of a Danish prince. I love it. I’m already looking forward to reading it.
- Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn – I’m in a bit of a Star Wars mindset at the moment that when this turned up for Kindle for 99p I couldn’t say no. I’m not even sure when I’m going to read this.
- Netflix Binges: Miranda, Luther, Parks and Rec
Gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason Why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot!
As I write, I’m surrounded by the sound of fireworks going off in every direction. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about Bonfire Night. I enjoy fireworks as much as the next person but, as someone who loves being indoors, I am slightly apposed to the idea of being stood in the dark and cold for a long period of time. Still, despite having only had about 4 hours sleep on Friday night, I dragged myself out of the house to watch our local display. It was pretty fun and I’m glad I went. Even if I still find it weird that we all happily celebrate the attempted murder and subsequent torture of a load of people in 1605. Like, “oh yeah, Catholics had it so bad that they were driven to try to blow people up before they were found and violently killed. Let’s all stand around having a great time.” Anyway, I’ve discussed this issue enough today so let’s get on with the rundown.
Weekly Bookish Post
- TBR? More like WTF!
I may have veered away from helpful slightly in last week’s bookish post but I just needed a quick rant about how little I appreciate the Bookstagram obsession with the TBR. Read more about it here.
- Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Treason by James Jackson
This week I was a bit inspired by the time of year and having just watched the BBC show Gunpowder. When I saw this on Amazon I couldn’t resist. It’s a fictional account of the Gunpowder plot of 1605 and it looks really exciting. I’m a bit of a lover of history: I definitely would have studied it at university if I hadn’t loved books quite so bloody much. As such, I adore novels that base themselves in specific historical events and take a fictional slant on it. If it’s done well then it can be magical.
- Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
This is one of those books that I’ve had my eye on for a while but never got because I was a bit scared. As you may be aware by now, I’m not a big lover of the majority of YA fiction. I tend to avoid authors that are primarily YA writers because I know the likelihood of me enjoying it is small. However, I enjoyed this year’s Wonder Woman film so much that I just wanted to check this out. I so hope it’s worth it.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
This is another one of those books that I’ve been contemplating for a while. I think Rogue One is the best Star Wars film to be released after the original trilogy and was really interested to read the novelisation. I’ve heard it really adds to the story and gives some much needed development to each character. However, I did quite enjoy the fact that we know very little about each character in the film because, really, it didn’t matter who they were. That’s just the fact of war I guess.
- Netflix Binges: Stranger Things
I know that it’s a very subjective thing but I think we mostly all agree that, when it comes to Star Wars films, the second ever film in the franchise is the best. I know over the years I’ve changed my mind on the matter many times and can still switch whenever I’m a bit hungry or my mood changes slightly. However, The Empire Strikes Back, ended up being a far better film than A New Hope and it was certainly not surpassed by Return of the Jedi. If you were to ask me, Empire is up there with a limited number of sequels that were better than the original film. This fact may have given fans a glimmer of hope after the disappointing prequel The Phantom Menace by suggesting that lightening could strike twice. We all madly hoped that Attack of the Clones would show us how great Star Wars could be with lashings of CGI and plenty of stupid characters to keep the kids entertained. Unfortunately, it did the opposite and managed to make the first film look like fucking Shakespeare. Just as we can pretty much all agree that the original sequel is the best film in the franchise, I think we all know that the worst is the prequel sequel. So, in honour of this great day, I decided to re-watch it and rip it to shreds.
As you may remember, back in 2015 I wrote a blog post in which I defended the prequels and offered several examples that I believe were genuinely good about them. There are a fair few good things about Revenge of the Sith and some aspects of The Phantom Menace that really worked well. The only things I could think of for Attack of the Clones? The Jedi battle on Geonosis and Obi Wan’s face. Now Ewan McGregor’s face has got me to watch many questionable films over the years and definitely will do again. His casting was the best thing about the prequel films and has caused me to re-watch specific scenes in all of the prequels way too many times. He’s bloody beautiful and super talented despite the god awful lines he’s continually forced to spout. Still, there is only so much that his good looks can cover up.
For the most part, Attack of the Clones is just a long and slow continuation of Anakin’s story where very little happens until the final half hour or so. The tale picks up 10 years after the end of Phantom and Anakin is still Obi Wan’s padawan. He is cocky and still unable to control his emotions. Even if you weren’t aware of the future events in his story, it’s super obvious that he shouldn’t have been allowed into the Jedi order and I spend most of the film wondering why people didn’t realise the outcome sooner. I mean he just comes across as a fucking creep the entire time and looks as though he could kill at any minute. It’s insane that Yoda let him just wander around the galaxy freely carrying a weapon.
Unlike it’s counterpart for the original films, The Empire Strikes Back, there is no dramatic and exciting opening to this film. Instead of a great battle on Hoth, we have an introduction to space politics and a really boring assassination plot. A plot which only serves the purpose of messily putting Anakin and Padme together to allow them to fall in love. Which is basically all this film cares about. It pushes the romance angle way more than it should, especially because it’s two stars have absolutely no chemistry. Hayden Christensen is incredibly wooden and unemotional throughout his 2 Star Wars films but when he is attempting to woo Natalie Portman there is just nothing there. It doesn’t help that the lines are the worst kind of cliches imaginable but you can’t really tell from the on-screen talent that these two characters are falling in love. It just kind of sneaks up on you and doesn’t make sense. Remember how, the more you think about it, the love story in Beauty and the Beast is super questionable and weird. This one makes that look like fucking relationship goals. It’s just not good.
Thankfully, there is Obi Wan’s side-plot to keep people interested but even that veers off into dull territory from time to time. We see some new worlds and meet some interesting new characters but it isn’t until way down the line that the excitement really kicks in. He goes on a rather tame Space tour and follows bounty hunter Jango Fett to Geonosis. It’s not much to write home about. Until he, and in a painfully laboured way, Anakin and Padme get captured by Separatists and forced to fight in a massive death arena. It is here that the fucking awesome Jedi battle I mentioned as the main positive takes place. It’s a great sequence that really, for the first time in the franchise, shows us the real scope of the Jedi Order. We see why they are considered the Space Police of the whole Galaxy and understand why they were remembered as great warriors.
Still, that’s only 1 scene. We have to wade through an immense amount of shit to get there. We all wanted to love Attack of the Clones and, if it’s sequel brother was anything to go by, it should have been great. Instead it featured and some really boring narrative points and some of the worst writing in cinematic history. The lead couple never really gels enough to sell the only part of the film that George Lucas gives a fuck about and there just isn’t enough of Obi Wan’s face. This film, even more than Phantom, is just a mess of CGI backdrops and awful cartoon characters for the kids. There are moments when I start to feel embarrassed for the people involved in making it. I mean the scene between Obi Wan and Dex the Diner owner is just pure children’s cartoon. Then there’s the moment that could fit in any B movie or soap opera when the director attempts to trick us into thinking Padme is about to be melted. Or, finally, the laughable moment when Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku is speeding along on a CGI space scooter. Who the fuck signed off on that visual? Lee looks super uncomfortable and the end result looks so shitty.
Ultimately though, the problem with Attack of the Clones is that nobody really gave a shit about it. It was just a placeholder. It didn’t matter to the story and was just the inevitable 3rd movie to let the whole double trilogy thing come to life. Phantom was about introducing us to Anakin and explaining how he became a Jedi. Revenge would show us the moment Anakin became Darth Vader. Attack? Nobody really knew what that needed to be about so it was just about nothing really. It was let down by lack of plot and sense of direction. It’s aimless so there is nothing it can do to make up for any shortfalls. If it weren’t for a couple of great moments and some decent acting from the likes of Ewan McGregor, Christopher Lee and Samuel L Jackson then it would have completely crumbled. Also, CGI Yoda is the fucking bomb!
Tomorrow is the biggest day in any Star Wars fan’s diary. Yes, May the 4th is upon us all again and, as we started last year, it’s time for our yearly Star Wars Top 10. I have to be honest, I’ve only done 1 of these so far and I was already struggling to find a decent idea here. It didn’t help that I got back late from the cinema. I’ve just watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and I have too many feelings to be able to process this top 10. Still, I’m soldiering on and am ready to right a list of my top moments in the Star Wars films. All the Star Wars films that it. Even the newer ones were up for grabs. That’s probably controversial but, as I’ve said before, all of the newer films have their positives.
The great moments in the second prequel film were definitely few and far between. However, the huge Jedi battle on Geonosis is just amazing. It’s the first time we really see the sheer force and size of the Jedis before Order 66 destroys them. They are a force to be reckoned with and you can see how they are able to keep the Galaxy in order.
Nine: The Pod Race – The Phantom Menace
The Pod Race gave so much hope early on in this film. It’s such a fantastic sequence that uses CGI in a really good way. You know, unlike the other scenes in the prequels. Ignoring the rest of the film, this sequence is exciting and exhilarating. We see Anakin as the great pilot that Obi Wan always claimed he was. It looks great and it adds a lot to the opening of the new film.
Eight: The Battle of Hoth – The Empire Strikes Back
This opening battle is bloody brilliant, right? It picks up off straight away after the dramatic tension of A New Hope and takes it to a new ice planet. I mean if nothing else, Hoth is a fucking great place for the series’ first land battle. Then look at the huge AT-ATs against the tiny rebel ships. It’s a great battle with a great background. It showed us that this sequel was ready to start with a bang and keep on going. It is chaotic, energetic and brilliantly set out. A great sequence.
Seven: The asteroid field – The Empire Strikes Back
Never tell me the odds of this scene ending up in this top 10. This scene is, quite frankly, a roller-coaster ride. We follow Han Solo as he tries to escape in the Millennium Falcon from the Imperial fleet in the middle of an asteroid field. There’s near misses, snappy dialogue and some great visuals. This scene just works so well and is helped along by John William’s great score. It’s a dramatic moment where you genuinely fear for the safety of our heroes.
Six: The trash compactor – A New Hope
Not exactly something you’d see as a key moment but this scene is the first to feature out main foursome together for the first time. It’s the moment when we really see the relationships develop and see how the character’s bounce off each other. Add to that the tension and fear. The dialogue is great and the sense of danger is always present. Then we have things popping up all over the place and random trash monsters. It’s a great little scene.
Five: “I love you” “I know” – The Empire Strikes Back
Another memorable and quotable moment. The history of the behind the scenes are now as famous as the words themselves. When Harrison Ford decided he wanted to change the line from “I love you to” to “I know” he really cemented his character’s attitude. Han Solo is the egotistical, frustrating, scruffy-looking Nerf-herder. Yes, he’s lovable but he’s still a rogue. More than any other line in the trilogy, these 3 words sum up exactly who he is. It’s why we all love it so much.
Four: Duel of the Fates – The Phantom Menace
Before the prequels came along the lightsabre fights we, if we’re honest, really fucking lame. The new films introduced us to what a Jedi battle could really be with this showdown and, boy, did it rewrite the rules. First, we have Darth Maul and his double-ended sword and then we have the Jedi twosome working together. It’s a brilliantly choreographed sequence and is full of tension, excitement and offers an emotional punch in the middle. It’s the best thing about the first film and the prequels. It’s just mesmerising.
Three: The Death Star Attack – A New Hope
Another super iconic scene and such a memorable moment. At the basic level, without this scene the original films wouldn’t have it’s story. I mean if the Death Star hadn’t been destroyed then there wouldn’t be a rebel alliance any more. At the same time, this is the moment when we really see the potential of the force and Luke’s Jedi abilities. There are also the fantastic illusions to WW2 and the aerial dogfights. It feels real yet completely sci-fi at the same time. It’s a game changer.
Two: Darth Vader unleashed – Rogue One
I’m not sure if it’s cheating having this moment in my top 10 because it’s from one of the newer films. However, this is the Darth Vader scene we’ve all been waiting for. Darth is one of the greatest villains in cinema history but, when you think about it, there’s little reason for this to be true. In the originals we never see him do anything that terrifying and the Anakin in the prequels doesn’t get beyond killing a few annoying younglings. We needed this scene to show us exactly why the rebels were so fucking afraid of him. It’s a breathtaking scene.
One: The Big Reveal – The Empire Strikes Back
As if there could be any other moment in the number 1 spot. We all remember that moment we first watched the films and saw this moment. It’s number 1 simply because of how iconic it is. Without this, the original films don’t have their emotional core. It’s one of the best lines in the series and it’s one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history. How could I possibly pick anything else?
So last week I released my list of books that I’m most looking forward to (probably not) reading this year. So I decided, as it’s that time of the month when I need to create a list of 10 random things, that it was only fair that I put down on e-paper the films that I’m most excited to see this year. It turns out that was really fucking hard. There are a lot of great films coming out and I’m super excited about all of them. Even really surprising ones. I mean, had you asked me this time last year, that I’d be quite looking forward to seeing Michael Keaton star in the story of the founder of McDonalds I’d have thought you were mad. Now, however, I think it looks pretty good. I mean I love Keaton and it stars the internet’s favourite man’s man Nick Offerman. Plus, there was a point when I didn’t think I wanted to see The Social Network but that turned out better than expect. I also, even more shockingly, became fairly interested in the Justice League film. I’m still not ecstatic about the release because the last two films in DC’s arsenal were utter dogshit. I think it’s basically just down to Jason Momoa though. And Batfleck. But, before I get distracted by sexy superheroes, I should present the list… with more than enough sexy superheroes.
Ten: War for the Planet of the Apes
I really enjoyed 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes back in 2011. The rebooted franchise has created some fantastic pequels so I’m incredibly keen to see what’s coming next.
Nine: Blade Runner 2049
Of course I’m excited about the prospect of Harrison Ford returning to the role of Rick Deckard but there is still a part of me that worries. It’s been a long time. Still, everything we’ve seen so far looks good and gives a positive feeling. Plus, director Denis Villeneuve directed last year’s Arrival which everyone seemed to fucking love. So it’s probably in safe hands.
Eight: Murder on the Orient Express
Probably not going to be top of too many people’s lists but I think I’m going to enjoy this one. It’s Kenneth Branagh directing himself and a shitload of really famous actors to retell the classic Hercule Poirot tale. Yes, we all know who did it but that’s not the point. It’s about watching our favourite Belgian detective work out those “leetle grey cells” to figure it out. And, at this point, I think I’d allow Branagh to play anybody.
Seven: Alien: Covenant
I know it received mixed reviews but I kinda liked Prometheus. I mean it was a bit of a fucking mess but, for the most part, I think it was a decent film. I get why people were upset though. It was billed as the epic prequel to one of the best films ever made but it didn’t even feature the titular alien creature. So, this year’s follow up should make amends for that if the poster is anything to go by. Really, this could be a retelling of the first Alien film and this would fair better than Prometheus. Plus, you know, Michael Fassbender is fucking weird in this role.
Six: Logan Lucky
I’m kinda getting sick of Steven Soderbergh telling us he’s retiring and then making another film. Or at least I would be sick of it if it wasn’t for the idea of another Soderbergh film. It’s been 4 years since he made the announcement and now he’s back making a comedy about a robbery duing a NASCAR race. It’s got an interesting and star-studded line-up. What we know about the plot sounds kinda ropey but it’s fucking Soderbergh. How can you ignore it?
Five: Thor: Ragnorak
I know Thor isn’t everyone’s favourite part of the MCU but I’m a massive fan of his first film. I think the second was kind of dodgy but I still have faith in this series. The huge-armed Norse God is back for his third film and, for anyone that knows anything about Norse mythology will know, Ragnorok can only mean trouble. Thankfully, Thor is helped by his pal the Hulk and Marvel’s newest sign-up Doctor Strange. We’ve lost the unnecessary and bland Jane but I’m sure nobody, Natalie Portman included, is crying about that.
Four: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy was a sort of surprisingly huge hit when it came out 3 years ago. It introduced us to the ragtag bunch of people who accidentally get caught up in trying to save the world. Their second film promises much of the things that made the first one great so obviously I’m excited. But, as we’ve learnt by now, Marvel sequels don’t have the greatest track record. I mean, to date, only 1 follow-up manages to equal/improve on the first film: The Winter Soldier. At the worst we have Iron Man 2 (happily improved upon with Iron Man 3) but the rest were all just kind of meh. So, I do have a fear that Guardians 2 will just try and replay all of it’s greatest hits without offering up any new material. As much as I love him, I need more than just “I am Groot” but said in a baby voice now.
Three: Spider-Man: Homecoming
If Civil War taught us anything it was that a Marvel controlled Spider-Man film could be the best thing ever. Then the trailer for Homecoming was released and it definitely backed up the claim. Tom Holland looks set to steal Andrew Garfield’s crown as best portrayal of the web-slinger. Still, this is the 3 time in about 15 years that this franchise has been rebooted and it’s the 3 different actor to lend his face to the role. I’m not sure it was necessary and, more worryingly, I feel that Marvel are pushing Tony Stark too much. Maybe his role will work in the film as a whole but, from what we’ve seen so far, this could very easily become the Iron Man show. And that would be an injustice.
Two: Star Wars Episode 8
Well, duh! Rogue One was the best Star Wars film to be released since the originals and it got me incredibly excited for what’s coming next. The Force Awakens did a great job of bringing us back into the world but left so many things unanswered. This is the time to find out. Plus, it’s directed by Rian Johnson who also did Brick and Looper so we’re in pretty safe hands.
There was really no other choice for the number 1 spot. Logan is a key film this year for so many reasons. Mostly because, after 17 years, Hugh Jackman is finally saying goodbye to the character. It’s so weird to think that he’s been playing the guy for so long. He basically is Wolverine at this point. I can’t imagine anyone else having taken the character this far if Jackman hadn’t got the role. Add to that the fact that it’s the character’s first film to receive an R-rating. Last year’s Deadpool showed us that it’s no bad thing to make comic book movies just for adults so it feels right that Jackman should get to show us what Logan can really do for this final time. The comic book Wolverine was always an incredibly violent character and that’s not really been able to come across in any of the others. We need to see him really letting his anger out. I’m so fucking pumped for this film.
I obviously have a lot of love for Star Wars fan. I mean I am one myself and so are a load of my friends and colleagues. They’re a great bunch of people who share an often insane amount of love for a really great set of films. However, they are an infuriating bunch of people. Or, at least, a select group of them are. When The Force Awakens opened last December people were rejoicing that JJ Abrams had undone the damage of the prequels by making a decent Star Wars film but there was still criticism that the film was too much like A New Hope. I can see what they mean but their argument is absurd when you consider how pissed off they were about the prequels: three films that went wildly beyond the scope and lore. So we’ve learnt that Star Wars fans don’t want anything new nor do they want anything old. Well, is it any wonder George Lucas couldn’t do a damn thing right when you’re all so fucking undecided? It meant that there was even greater risk for the newest film Rogue One because it was bridging the gap between old and new. It was telling the, as yet, untold but all too familiar story of how the rebellion got their hands on the plans for the Death Star. With news of its release came the usual questioning of “is it necessary?” and people claiming enough was enough. I can’t help but feel that Star Wars fans needs to take some tips from the Harry Potter fandom. Those guys are always after more: even when it’s absolutely balls.
There are a few questions that have remained unanswered since the opening of Star Wars in 1977. Like how did the rebellion get their hands on the Death Star plans and who exactly put that very convenient flaw that made it so easy to destroy? Rogue One goes out to answer those questions as newcomer Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) finds herself unwittingly caught up in the fight against the Empire. As a child Jyn watched helplessly as her father, Galen (Mads Mikkelson), is taken away by Imperial Officer, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and her mother is shot by Stormtroopers. Turns out that Galen and Krennic are the two scientist that were given the task of creating the Empire’s great weapon, the Death Star and the job needs to be finished. Years later, Jyn is broken out of prison and asked to get them a meeting a rebel extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) in order to find her father. Unfortunately, the deadly weapon has already been completed but an Imperial defector supplies a message from Galen describing a secret flaw that is to be the Death Star’s undoing. With this new information, Jyn must rally the troops to help her steal the plans and get them into the hands of rebel forces.
Really, Rogue One is attempting to fill in certain gaps between the end of Revenge of the Sith and the start of A New Hope. The ending isn’t exactly a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the first film in the franchise but that doesn’t mean it’s not a pleasant journey getting there. I’ve always been the kind of person who enjoys seeing a familiar story from a different perspective: heck I even have a certain love for the third Lion King film, which showed the events of the first film from Timon and Pumbaa’s point of view. So, Rogue One introduces us to a whole host of new faces whilst reintroducing us to a few that we haven’t seen in a long time. A lot has been said about the animation of Grand Moff Tarkin and I really want to address it in an additional post. However, I will say that I was glad to see Tarking back, because it was needed in the time frame, but I think the whole CGI thing just didn’t work. Every time he was on screen it was like the fucking Polar Express. It was just too weird and awful.
Still, as I said, I was glad he came back. Rogue One is full of in-jokes, references, and Easter eggs that will keep fans happy. I’m exactly the kind of person that filmmakers love because I instantly get all giddy when I see someone i recognise or hear someone reference something from the old films. I can see why some people would see it as a negative because it does feel like pandering. But, really, we’re dealing with the same time-frame as A New Hope so it makes sense that all these people are still around. I mean, if Grand Moff Tarkin wasn’t around for the inaugural firing of the Death Star’s laser then you’d have to ask why he was running the space station only days later. And why wouldn’t the rebels that we see in the first film also be debating what to do about the Death Star plans? Yes it’s a film that pays fan service but it’s done so well that it really doesn’t matter.
That’s not to say that there isn’t also something to be enjoyed from the new material. Pretty much all of the new characters are great additions to the Star Wars universe and Felicity Jones has made herself a fine addition to the roster of powerful females in these movies. Her rebel cohorts are equally welcome and, pleasingly, add a certain amount of moral ambiguity to the rebellion. We’re used to seeing Luke and Leia, who are two wholly good characters, fighting against the evil Empire. Whereas, Rogue One introduces us to the people who had to make tough and immoral choices for the greater good. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a rebel Captain, puts even Han Solo to shame in the anti-hero stakes with his willing to kill whenever the need arises. The original trilogy wanted us to see that everything is covered in darkness but it isn’t until Rogue One that we really see the price the rest of the Galaxy has had to pay.
It is great to finally see the dark and depressing consequences of the rebellion and, aside from the people you know from the future, nobody on screen is safe. It’s true that we don’t really get much time to get to know the new group of people putting their lives at risk to save the Galaxy but there are some stand out characters. Alan Tudyk is fantastic as the plucky robot K-2SO. He’s sort of like a mix between C-3PO and Chewbacca and manages to get all of the best lines. Unlike Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), a blind warrior who strongy believes in the force, who basically says the same thing over and over or his friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) who is more of shoot first ask questions later kind of guy. Of course, it would have been nice to get more of a chance to get to know these characters and less time on the confusing and unnecessary beach battle near the end. That is, I think, my major criticism of the film. The final battle between Rebel and Imperial fighters just feels out of place. It is kind of distracting to the point and it isn’t as well done as some of the bigger battle in the original triology. It doesn’t add anything to either this film or it’s predecessors.
When it comes down to it though, Rogue One is the best of both worlds. It tells a good and new story without veering too far from familiar ground. It is an exciting Star Wars film with a great cast of characters. It is by no means perfect and, like every Star Wars film to date, suffers from occasional dreadful dialogue and too many ideas. Still, it was an absolutely amazing film and one I intend to watch again as soon as possible. I remember walking out of The Force Awakens and feeling satisfied but not necessarily hungry for more. This film left me stuffed but still willing to reach in for another helping. And, without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, the final scenes are some of the most incredible Star Wars moments of all time. This just goes to show, we don’t need Jedi, Skywalkers, and Solos to have a great Star Wars film.
So it’s Star Wars day again and I have another chance to discuss one of the greatest franchises in movie history. Last year I defended the prequels prior to the release of The Force Awakens. They aren’t that bad, after all. It’s just a shame that The Force Awakens was so good that it makes them seem worse now. Still, this year, May 4th has fallen on a Wednesday which mean it’s time to write another top 10 list. This time my list of all time favourite characters. I’m not really a very original thinker so this is bound to be very reminiscent of most people’s top 10. Had the newest film not royally fucked her character up, Captain Phasma would no doubt have been here. Of course, that was a massive let down. Although she has time to make the cut. As does Poe who would have been here had he had more screen time. I’d love to have included Mace Windu but I feel like I needed a reason beyond “he’s fucking Samuel L Jackson and has a purple lightsabre”. So I present to you, without further ado, my top 10 Star Wars characters.
Nine: Kylo Ren
I was wavering about including too many newer characters onto the list because we’ve still only seen Episode 7. We haven’t really seen much of any of the new faces from The Force Awakens to tell if they deserve being given such high accolades. However, Kylo Ren was such a great addition to the new film that I couldn’t ignore him. There has been a constant struggle between the light and the dark side in all the Star Wars films that it was difficult to imagine it feeling fresh. Kylo Ren does that. Having such an avid Sith Lord being pulled back to light side was fantastic. Add to that his teenage temper tantrums and we have a potentially new iconic figure.
Eight: Luke Skywalker
Very nearly didn’t make it into the top 10 because, as we’re all aware, Luke is a bit of a joke as the hero. He’s the annoying teenager who stumbles into the limelight and manages to be utterly annoying whilst saving everyone. Kind of like Harry Potter, we like him because he’s the main guy but we kind of wish someone else was. However, Luke is no.1 so he gets a lot of the juicy bits. His lightsabre fights are the best in the originals and he is a part of most of the iconic scenes. You don’t want to be Luke but you can’t help but admire his journey.
Five: Princess Leia
Princess Leia shines partly because she’s a lone female figure in a male dominated universe. She also shines because she’s so fucking awesome. She stands up against the Empire, watches her home planet destroyed and still comes out being sassy. She’s a strong, independent and self-assured leader who isn’t content to sit around waiting for evil to strike. Even if she sometimes has to play the role of sex-symbol, there is never any doubt that Leia is a hero in her own right rather than a damsel in distress.
Four: Darth Vader
Three: Obi Wan Kenobi
I admit, my love of Ewan McGregor probably has a lot to do with my love of Obi Wan but I think the Jedi deserves his place at number 3. Obi Wan had the horrible task of spouting a lot of Force related nonsense but, thanks to the great job of the two actors playing him, he sounds like a fucking genius rather than a lunatic. Obi Wan was the introduction to the Jedi culture for both Luke and the audience and we were happy to follow him into unknown territories. He’s the mentor we all wished we could have had at some point in our lives.And let’s not forget, he’s also one of the biggest badasses of them all.
Two: Boba Fett