Greetings, cinema-fans! It’s your favorite hard-assed pop-culture media critic Doktor Faux! Over the past decade I’ve probably been to the movies less times than I’ve had dental surgery, and honesty I don’t know which is worse. How about the mandatory convenience fee for the reclining armchair, with no option to opt-out because every chair is a reclining chair with a bright blue LED light on it and what sounds like a Rascal motor chugging away to lift some dude’s bulbous swollen diabetes-ridden legs up as the sweat pearling up behind his knees is chafing his cargo shorts causing him to adjust the seat by 1-3 millimeters every ten god-damn minutes? Or is it the RUSH of knowing after you’ve chugged a gallon of carbonated sugar-water that you’re going to have to decide to see whether this is finally going to be the film they show full-penetrative sex with the character who’s picture you scotched tape to your bathroom door, or releasing a Niagara-level event of deep yellow grease-saturated urine that will soak your legs just moments before it cascades down the next four rows of seats.
No, dear friends, it’s not either of those.
The worst part about going to the movies, is usually seeing the movie. And not just because some punk kid cleaned the screen with a broom a month ago and now it looks like your paying to see a movie on the world’s largest t-shirt, but the actual content that gets projected up onto it. Yes, there are good movies out there, and there are movies I like to watch. What’s disheartening is usually these movies don’t last long in the theaters because they’re just too niche to survive. Theaters don’t want to keep playing the occasional “indie-film” (despite it coming from studios like Warner Bros or Paramount, and Apple is partnering with A24) that only gets a handful of people when they can keep playing the same super-hero movie until the reel snaps and they can sell it to the dollar-theater/homeless-shelter on the other side of town.
I can’t fight popular opinion, the people have spoken and they want spandex-clad mutants fighting with CGI monsters. And it kills me to know that all of these people who want to act out of passion for their craft or going to end-up in green studio talking to a tennis-ball.
So with nothing but disdain in my heart for Hollywood, I’m going to review the top-grossing movies of the year for the past decade.
|Star Wars: The Last Jedi||$1,332,539,889||2017|
I’ll be honest, I really like the original Star Wars films. I grew up as only a minor-enthusiast of it, a few toys a couple t-shirts and copies of the first trilogy. It was the 90’s so a lot of the fandom was mainly 30-year-old neckbeards exchanging floppy disks of pictures of C-3PO’s spinning penis.
For kids, it was something our parents enjoyed and was still an exciting movie-series with plenty of space battles and mysticism to create an incredible fantasy universe. Then the original films were re-released in theaters REMASTERED. If only we knew what they were priming us for. For the next 20 years we would get a steady stream of Star Wars everything. Sure the merchandise was always around, but who would’ve thought there would be a market for garbage-scented candles? People will buy anything if you just slap a logo on it.
So now we’ve come to the new trilogy, and the long-awaited return of standing in mile-long lines just so you can snap a selfie at the ticket-booth. In the first movie of this series The Force Awakens, we are welcomed back to the series with movies less about trade-policy and more about getting all your favorite characters to stand around on screen talking about how much things have changed. Despite blowing up the new EXTREME version of the Death Star, which literally consumed stars, the movie fell flat and I think South Park but it best with:
“The Force Awakens was more like a Happy Days reunion special than a movie.”
So now we’ve arrived at part 2 (er, 8) in the saga. Fans were eager, already comparing it to The Empire Strikes Back months before release. Would this be the saving-grace for the franchise? I did see this film in a theater, I too was encouraged by the underground frenzy about it. The film picks up where it left off, as OG Hottie Princess Leia is driving the hell out of a spaceship. Because Harrison Ford values his time, he is not in this movie, and so end up with Poe. A ship full of space-refugees has to flee the Empire, and Poe Slaw goes on a secret mission to save everyone.
Meanwhile on the lonely planet from the last movie, white-girl with a British accent has to ask a decrepit Luke Skywalker to train her in the force. But instead of a Yoda-like series of taunts and mind-games, Luke simply just isn’t interested in training anyone. He takes a swig of nasty-looking swill he pumps from the suckling teet of what is either a dying Jar-Jar Binks or quite possibly the latest poster-child for mandatory abortions (no real difference). The girl begs and pleads with Luke to show her how to make rocks float, but he just spends his days avoiding her which turns out to be my favorite parts of the movie. Eventually she learns to believe in herself and she leaves.
So the rainbow coalition secret mission team of black-guy who died in the last movie but is now back, thicc nerdy girl and robot Bowling-ball 8 ends up getting caught on Casino Planet, and eventually white-british-girl meets up with sexy piece of oiled wood Crylo Ren. This comes to the reveal of the SUPER-EVIL GUY: Snoke (I remember his name because he was kind of cool). There is a lightsaber-fight while the captured do-gooders escape from somewhere else and the Emp…New Order has caught up the evacuees and then there’s a big battle, and we learn that Princess Leia is Superman and can fly through space and then there’s a big showdown and a little kid picks up a broom with his mind and reminds us that children are the future, even in space.
This all happens while guns are fired and people explode, in space. Star Wars movies are usually filled with mass deaths, usually entire planets at a time. It’s kind of creepy watching the New Order fire on escape pods filled with dozens of people in that regard. Most of the violence on screen over the last several movies holds out for lightsaber battles, especially the big one in the prequels with Boba Fett. So watching lifeboats exploding, knowing that there are lots of innocent people on board was really unnerving to me, but I guess that does help solidify the bad guys in their role. What was more stomach-churning between Ren and white-girl, with their telepathic phone sex. Through the use of the force, we are allowed to see the oddly proportioned emo-prince-of-darkness without his shirt on. Before we’re treated to Magic Mike in Space, we have to sit and fidget in our seats as we watch our heroine struggle with the fact that she totally wants to bone him.
Like every Star Wars movie after the first one, there is way too much going on in the movie. The desperation to flesh out the multi-culture pals secret mission actually had some confusing parts to it, all really set up so one of our heroes can confront the living embodiment of their past and kill them. This happens simultaneously as another hero confronts their embodiment of their future and they kill them as well. And there’s nothing validating to it. While these characters are literally figures of evil and vengeance, there is no connection with them. Both of the characters are shown only briefly in the first movie and despite each having their “five-minutes” in this movie their deaths mean nothing, just more corpses on the pile. And I can only imagine, that the deaths of these two will only further motivate the subordinates in the New Order and after only a few weeks of roster changes will they be made as martyrs to constantly be touted in the next movie.
For a CGI-heavy movie series, this movie does look good. There are several physical sets that bring back the warm-and-cozy feelings of the old movies. The great thing about the Millenium Falcon in the original film is that it looks like the spaceship equivalent of a 1970’s cargo freighter, complete with cigarette-stained beige plastic. This was something the prequels didn’t have, as nearly everything in that series looked like a shiny piece of metal or plastic and brand-new (of course, this is before the ‘Star Wars’ really began). But the rest is mostly CGI animals and aliens superimposed on footage of what I expect to be New Zealand.
Another practical effect this movie touted was the porgs. These owl-penguin hybrids live on the planet alongside Luke and the teetbeast, and they are 100% engineered to make kids scream for one. The porg has been a heavily advertised feature of this movie, easily knocking R2-D2 down a peg on the “cute” list of Star Wars merchandise. They are basically the minions from Despicable Me, just Disney’s more market-tested form of them. Luckily they aren’t nearly as annoying, and do add as a comic relief. Alas, the more animated ones are nothing but CGI copies of the puppets (that DO look really neat close up) and there are far more of them in the movie. Chewbacca adopts one, and it looks so weird in it’s rubbery-renderized version next to a real hair-suit Chewie.
All-in-all it’s another special-effects movie, starring Mark Hamill. Luke is really the best part of the film, even though he doesn’t really do anything except act like an old dick. There is just too much going on with all of the other characters to really offer a chance to connect with them. There’s the younger duo of Finn and Rose who really do just seem to be there to offer more marketability of the franchise to ethnic groups, girls and younger kids rather than hoards of the typical pasty-faced honkey teens who’s shadow-bidding on a Kenner action-figure. Sure Lando and Mace Windu may never have gotten the lead roles but they did portray good characters very well and they were still relatable. Even though Finn is black, he is still trapped in the cliche of “orphaned kid making it on his own” and “escaping the tragic past” stereotypes that plague every teen-oriented movie coming out (Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Harry Potter). Plus, he suffered a mortal wound at the end of the last movie and is resurrected in this one, making him fill more like a filler-character than a hero. The new cultural icon is Rose, the short Asian girl with a knack for electronics which felt a little too-stereotypical for me. I don’t have a problem with these characters being here, except that they feel like pandering attempts by producers to give the minority of science-fiction enthusiast to relate too. I would be able to see past this if they were given more serious or prominent roles, even South American character Poe seems to be filling in for Han Solo, with his brashness and ego constantly being checked by who-other than Princess Leia.
Furthering the white-lexicon of power in the roles is the new matriarchal figure and super-pale role model Vice-Admiral Holdo. Everyone is in allegiance to her, except for Poe who we are supposed to like. So we have a woman in charge, who has made a decision that Poe doesn’t like and thus he begins his adventure in secret. The main reason she was created for the story was die as a martyr, which occurs when she decides to stay on the damaged ship pursued by the New Order and is inevitably blown up crashing her ship into the fleet. So even with the inclusion of the strong-woman archetype, the only real connection we have with her is when she makes her sacrifice, which I can’t imagine too many people feeling bad about after watching an entire movie plot take place without her permission or oversight.
These are all such depressing roles being performed by some very talented actors, it would just be nice to see them accomplish something in the main story rather than just being this incarnations android adventures. Even the arch-villain of the new series: we were only briefly glimpsed of him or his motives in the last film. In this episode, he receives literally FIVE MINUTES of screen-time before he is abruptly killed.
The movie also sees the death of Luke Skywalker, who after a final CGI battle with his evil nephew, turns into a cloud and Crylo is left to go home with no parents, no uncle and no supreme leader.
But even Luke was screwy in this film, because his main hesitation to train another Jedi was because he trained Ren, who then went on to murder people all over the universe. So really we’re seeing PTSD Luke in the film, but he admits several times about how he messed up so again it seems to just be another tragedy we weren’t involved in plaguing the life of the main character, and the scenes of Luke’s flashbacks are so weird and seemingly out-of-character for him we even to start to lose empathy for him too.
So if you haven’t seen it, I’d say the only reason to see it is because it’s a neat-looking space movie, but it doesn’t add anything to saga other than exposition for the next movie. It’s a cobbled-together cavalcade of aging actors reprising their roles for one more bout of fan service surrounded by new characters who are uninteresting and barely move the plot.
Story/Plot: It’s Star Wars, part 8
Script: All over the place, too much going on not essential to main plot
Actors/Casting: Wonderfully talented actors do absorb what little of a role they are given
Soundtrack: It’s the same score from the last seven god-damned movies by John Williams
Composition: The film is always well-framed, well-lit and the shots make sense. Too bad nothing in them does though.
Effects: While there are lots of great physical sets, they are usually small or minimalist. Way too much CGI as is standard for these movies. BLOW SOMETHING REAL UP.
Directing: He may have directed Breaking Bad, but he has only one sci-fi credit to his name with Looper. Rian Johnson is a nice guy but he managed to completely emulate Lucas’ and his “fit-as-much-shit-in-two-hours-as-possible” technique
AVERAGE SCORE: 2.4
Recommendation: Just watch Empire Strikes Back again.
See you next time for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle