SOLO: A Star Wars Story Review (Spoiler free)

I was predictably in line with my kids for the first showing of SOLO: A Star Wars Story Thursday night. My eternal fandom of the galaxy far, far away mandated I be there regardless of any feelings I had going into it relating to the publicly troubled production or hesitations I had about such a great character being played by anyone other than Harrison Ford.

So how was it? I thoroughly enjoyed the film! I vow to keep my review free of spoilers. There’s sort of a nerd code with that and I’m not about to find myself in violation. No one wants the intergalactic counsel of nerds on their ass for spoiling Star Wars…. Here we go!

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SOLO: A Star Wars Story – Spoiler-Free Thoughts

Although this may have been the second Disney driven stand alone film to the franchise, in a lot of ways, it felt like the first. I absolutely adored Rogue One and consider it tied with Empire as my favorite. However, Rogue One was so interconnected to the rest of the saga that it never really felt like it was its own thing. Solo, on the other hand, very much sets its own path while maintaining the appropriate level of connectivity to the established galaxy.

The movie is riddled with fan service that’ll go over the heads of many while making the hardcore fans giddy. If you’re like me and have consumed every Star Wars media possible (Clone Wars, Rebels, the comics, etc) then there are tons of moments in the dialogue alone that will make you happy to see some level of acknowledgement on the big screen. We’re even given the answers to some lingering questions that should settle decade-long geeky debates.

As impossible as it may be for me to understand the viewpoint of someone new to the franchise, I do think that someone in that (personally unthinkable) position could watch this film and get a great deal of enjoyment out of it without feeling hopelessly lost. It is a great fusion of space western, heist film, and adventure picture that give it a carefree ride. The galaxy isn’t at stake and the motives of some players aren’t always that clear, but the chemistry of all those on screen is undeniable. There are bad guys, yes, but no one emerges as the clear ‘big bad’ because the focus is more on how the lifestyle of a smuggler itself can be the cumulative bad guy.

Visually it is very polished giving a magnificent view of areas never explored in previous films. The score is well utilized to tie in the film appropriately with the others as music cues to the other films find their way in. Much like Rogue One, it also illustrates how expansive the Galactic Empire actually is by showing the power struggle in different environments where your normal TK-bucket head Storm Trooper isn’t the suitable soldier. You’re given a sense that the Empire is dealing with growing pains, so to speak, while it asserts its rule over different systems.

Alden Ehrenreich did a fine job as the scoundrel himself. I thought he embodied the spirit of Harrison Ford’s character without resorting to a straight impersonation. He channeled the bravado of Ford while inserting his own likability to the role. Donald Glover is exactly as magnetic as you’d expect playing Lando. Glover’s casting alone in that role is justification enough for the movie to exist. Woody Harrelson is mostly fun as Beckett; I’m curious to see what Marvel does with their upcoming comic series based on the character. There are other short standouts that I’ll let you experience for yourself.

Overall, the film as a worthy entry to Star Wars lore. There wasn’t a pressing need to for them to make it, but I’m glad they did. I wouldn’t be at all opposed to further Solo movies if Disney decides to further capitalize on the success. Although I don’t know that I’ll make it back to the theater for another viewing like I have the other movies,  I’ll definitely buy it when it’s released on bluray/digital.

My final review of SOLO: A Star Wars Story is 8 out of 10.

What did you think of SOLO: A Star Wars Story? How do you rank it with the others? Sound off in the comments or hit us up on Instagram.

jolly nathanThe Belligerent Barnes

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Ewok Hunt!!!

A lot of people gave up on EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II in the wake of their micro transaction loot box debacle. I wasn’t one of those people because if I’m going to shell out $60 for a new game, you better believe that I’m going to play it. The game was gorgeous if not a tad sterile. I played it for a while but sort of lost interest in returning to the same old grand scale battles with arbitrary rewards and progression. A couple weeks ago I decided to give it another spin after hearing that the game had since been further polished earning at least another go around. My mindset is that any way you can venture into the sprawling world of Star Wars is a good way so the revisit was worth my time.

This brings us to earlier this week when EA put out another (free) update themed around the nighttime on the forest moon of Endor. One thing about this update piqued my interest: Ewok Hunt.

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Let me tell you, I haven’t had this much fun playing a Star Wars game since flying an X-Wing through Beggar’s Canyon in the original Rebel Assault. The basic story behind Ewok hunt is a group of Storm Troopers must survive long enough to get extracted from the forest while being stalked from the shadows by the native murderous teddy bears. It sound stupid, yes, and it is. In fact it’s so stupid that it’s fantastic! The gameplay is such a stark contrast to the rest of what you’d expect from a Star Wars Battlefront game that you’d think you’re actually playing a survival horror shooter. The odds begin largely in favor of the Storm Troopers with 18 of them bumbling through the dark woods. However, whenever one of the troopers fall victim to the many traps, hazards, or teddy bear spears – they respawn as one of the Ewoks! Tides quickly change to the point where once the shuttle arrives there may only be a handful of troopers running for their lives from a legion of Ewoks.

Troopers are armed with their standard blaster along with a flashlight that has a brief useable time before it has to be turned off to recharge for a few seconds. In those seconds of recharge the darkness envelopes you while you focus on distant flashlights from your fellow troopers or the glowing embers of scorched wood left over from the recent battle. Regular emotive actions accessed by using the controller’s d-pad (on Xbox at least) are replaced by panicked whimpers or yelling “it’s a trap!”

Ewoks are armed with a spear and a sack of angry insects they can hurl at troopers like a grenade. They also have the horn that can be blown to taunt their white armored prey. To top things off, the special action they all possess is a hunter vision which illuminates the thermal signatures of troopers along with highlighting their recent footsteps so you can stalk them through the dark. It often takes several attacks to actually take a trooper out, but thankfully they don’t fully regenerate their health so it isn’t an impossible task. If a trooper succeeds in shooting one of the Ewoks they let out the heart breaking squeal that was taken right from Return of the Jedi.

According to the landing page, this is a ‘limited time event’. I sure hope EA doesn’t yank this anytime soon because it is so much more fun than it has any business being. Ewok hunt offers a breath of fresh air to Star Wars video games that’s so gloriously stupid that every moment is a delight!

Are you still giving Star Wars Battlefront II a shot? What’s your favorite Star Wars game? Sound off in the comments or hit us up on Instagram.

jolly nathanThe Belligerent Barnes

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A Quiet Place (2018) – Review (spoiler-free)

We’ve entered into a great era for Horror! This became further evident with John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place‘ which premiered in the U.S. on April 6th. I was able to catch a showing yesterday and was moved enough by the film to get off my lazy ass and write a review…

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Spoiler-Free Review

A Quiet Place is one of those rare films that can truly silence an entire movie theater. Aside from the occasional loud bite of pop corn or crinkle of a wrapper, the theater I sat in was actually quiet. This was a necessity because the movie quickly emphasizes how dangerous noise can be. It does this so well that sound itself becomes as much of a menacing villain as the mysterious and monstrous creatures that have created this particular apocalypse.

The movie is a fantastic example of ‘less is more’ because it gives away very little with weaponized finesse. From the onset the audience is thrown into the stage without any true explanation and that is exactly what makes the scares so effective. I have so many questions about what led up to the point the movie begins, yet, this didn’t take anything away from the experience. All that matters for the sake of the movie is the struggle of this family with clues of the greater horror peppered throughout the run time.

The cast is superb with real-life husband/wife team of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt showing their natural chemistry on screen. They play parents who are willing to do anything for their kids in spite of the most dire circumstances imaginable. As a parent, this aspect of the movie cut deep with me as I’m sure it will for any other parent watching. The perfectly cast kids in the family worked well with the circumstances of having to live this silent life. Their struggle was as believable as it was gut wrenching.

With a crisp duration of only an hour and 35 minutes, A Quiet Place doesn’t waste a single second. Each moment is crafted in a way that throws you headlong into the story afraid to make a sound in your seat. The monsters are memorable when you finally see them but their reveal is wisely held back as long as possible.

This is another film that is probably better experienced in a theater. It adds to the immersive experience which works marvelously well and will certainly serve as a refreshing rush of horror that stands apart from the cookie cutter monster films.

My final review of A Quiet Place (2018) is 9.3 out of 10.

What did you think of A Quiet Place? What’s your favorite recent horror film? Sound off in the comments or hit us up on Instagram.

jolly nathanThe Belligerent Barnes

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Let’s talk about The Walking Dead…

It’s been a long road together, The Walking Dead, but we need to have a conversation about our future. That’s right… it’s time for “the talk”. We’ve been through a lot together but I’m not sure I can keep going. Just know that it’s not me, it’s you…

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I remember when it was first announced that AMC would be adapting Robert Kirkman’s superb zombie comic. It felt like a dream that anything so awesome could actually grace the small screen. I read every single issue available prior to the premiere just to get ready. When the time came it certainly didn’t disappoint! We’d entered into a new era of television that wouldn’t shy away from the horror goodness that was long desired.

Quality wavered on The Walking Dead as seasons progressed. This wasn’t a big surprise as any new television juggernaut will experience growing pains as it balloons into success. Behind the scenes turmoil were an ever present threat there in the first two years but still the apocalyptic goodness prevailed. All in all, it was still pretty damn good television that became a high point of the viewing week.

I remember when main characters ACTUALLY died! It was so exciting to feel legitimate shock and grief without any true consequence to my life. No one was used to a show that was willing to kill of characters with such ease and for the longest time it seemed that nearly any character could be at risk. On top of it all, the cast was developed to a point where viewers were invested in their journey through the nightmarish landscape. When they suffered, viewers suffered right along with them. The Walking Dead had truly become something different and I counted down the minutes between episodes.

This period of infatuation with The Walking Dead can be related to a ‘honeymoon period’. Oh man, was it ever intense! Emotions ran high and I was completely invested. Surely this love/lust would last forever! Right? …. right?

Then there was a summer of temptation and infidelity. FEAR The Walking Dead was the hot new thing on the scene along with catcalls from another network with Z Nation. Zombie fever had officially reached a ubiquitous status in pop culture and it felt GREAT. I tried to get into ‘FEAR’ but it felt more like a shallow one night stand. The characters weren’t as good and I wanted to kill the druggie son more than I wanted Carl to stay in the damn house. By the time October returned, I knew that my heart belonged to only one zombie show.

Somewhere along the line things changed. The love I once felt became more shallow. Instead of saying “I love you” it turned into a mumbled “love you” or a “you too”. It hurt but it was what I knew and complacency was easier than facing my feelings. I was still there for The Walking Dead, but my heart drifted. When stakes were high I sorta stopped caring about what happened to the characters. I hated to admit it, but The Walking Dead and I were in trouble.

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I hoped things were going to change when I heard Negan was coming. Negan is a hysterical and terrifying in the comics so I was stoked to have him come to the show. Somehow, his arrival didn’t wow me the way I wanted. By this point, The Walking Dead had embraced such a self-indulgent style (which could be blamed on its Show Runner) that I had a hard time getting anywhere close to as invested as I once was. Had the sun set on my seven year long relationship with this show? No, I couldn’t give up on it yet. I promised I’d give it the eighth season. After all the time I’d spent caring about it, that was the least I could do.

At the time of this writing, we are two episodes away from the end of the eighth season. Much to my dismay, I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE! There have been one or two highlights in the season but all in all, it’s just more of the same drawn out dribble that barely resembles the champion of storytelling it once was.

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It’s possible that the show has simply run its course. It’s also possible that the introduction of a new Show Runner next season will turn things around. I’m sorry to say that I won’t be around to find out. Throughout the eighth season watching has felt more like a chore than a thrilling delight. Once you’ve reached that point with a show it’s definitely time to call it quits before your fond memories are tainted. I’m ready to find something new, to read a book, to have a conversation, to feel appreciated once again from something I am willing to dedicate myself to.

I’ll finish this season because I feel I at least owe the show that much. Beyond that, I’ll be moving on. I still love horror. I still love zombies. I still love television. Sorry, The Walking Dead, it’s been a blast but we’ve grown too far apart. As I said before – it’s not me, it’s you.

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Are you still watching? Or have you given up? Let us know in the comments/Instagram.

jolly nathanThe Belligerent Barnes

 

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Black Mirror – Season 4 Ranked

Television these days can be a tad overwhelming. I don’t mean that I’m put off by the generally bleak subject matter, the gut wrenching violence, or the abundance of child-unfriendly goodness television has to offer. On the contrary, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available to watch! It’s not easy having a life with stupid adult responsibilities while also staying up to date on shows that are currently relevant to the current zeitgeist.

This brings me to a viewing selection that needs to be at the top of your list (if it’s not already there) – Black Mirror on Netflix. Black Mirror is an anthology series that can be watched in any order or quantity without feeling like you’ve committed the carnal sin of missing an episode. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews of comic book standalones, you know that I’m a huge fan of anything I can enjoy noncommittally. Black Mirror brilliantly offers short seasons of (almost) entirely self-contained episodes. They are all geared towards a science fiction setting which is generally quite similar to our world only a few years in the future.

Netflix gave us a late Christmas present by releasing the fourth season on Friday, December 29th. This season, the second since Netflix took it over, was six episodes that I eagerly consumed with my only regret being the knowledge that more won’t come for a long time. Below is how I thought the six episodes stacked against each other. I’m not going to summarize the episodes as it is very worth your time to go watch them. Instead, I’ll try to justify why I ranked it the way I did and what stuck with me after the credits rolled.

OBVIOUS SPOILER WARNING FOR BLACK MIRROR SEASON FOUR!

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#6 – “Crocodile”

The third episode of the season, “Crocodile” is DARK…. like, crazy dark! It’s fascinating to think they have the technology to harness memories in such a way. I loved how the memories themselves were subjective so little things like color could be changed with just a suggestion. The depths Mia goes to in an attempt to protect all she’s gotten since the hit and run accident have no limit. I didn’t see the twist coming of the boy being blind and the purpose of the guinea pig… it left me needing a hug.

#5 – “Arkangel”

The second episode of season four was directed by Jodie Foster. If you’re a parent, this episode will unnerve you. Honestly, it’ll probably unnerve you regardless! The whole concept of seeing everything your child sees and having an element of parental control to what they experience is just scary. At first when Sara was little I thought it was very cute. I remember wishing I could see the eyes of both my kids when they were younger (they are a tad older now so not anymore… no one wants to see that crap). It crossed from cute to creepy pretty quickly once the grandfather had his incident. The episode did a fantastic job capturing her aging and how her sheltered state impacted her social development.

#4 – “Hang the DJ”

From what I’ve seen, the fourth episode “Hang the DJ” has been one of the critical favorites. I can see why but didn’t love it as much as the rest of the critics. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome episode that’s closer to a love story than the rest of the season. The concept of a system-selected “date” being used as a systematic way to find your soul mate is weirds me out. In the end, Black Mirror used its trademark storytelling twist to turn expectations around which was satisfying because it wasn’t implemented in an entirely predictable way. Also, this episode was a welcome change of pace if watched immediately after “Crocodile” – the sweet, goofiness of it all will help you rebound from the murder of a blind toddler.

#3 – “Black Museum”

Another change of pace, this episode of an anthology series was an anthology in itself. The final episode of the fourth season had a fun, yet twisted, way of bringing many of the items/themes of its predecessors together in a macabre light. I didn’t really like the segment with the doctor becoming hooked on pain. It was super predictable and relied more on gore than the show typically does. Then the segment with the monkey was as crushing as it was goofy. I was won over when it all tied together as a calculated revenge story.

#2- “USS Callister”

The first episode will undoubtedly be the favorite for most people. Honestly, it was a close call for me to put it in the number two spot. On the surface, the episode is a fun homage to the original Star Trek. I was shocked how fucked up the whole thing ended up being! What was remarkable is how small details about the “family friendly” show remained even while the characters were being overtly manipulated to appease the fragile ego of the universe’s architect. This episode was a great balance of humor and jaw-dropping darkness which made it the epitome of what Black Mirror has come to be.

#1 – “Metalhead”

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The season’s penultimate episode was definitely a change of pace, visuals, and tone that drove home the anthology nature of this show. I’ve seen some people rank this one much lower but I loved it. My natural affinity for post-apocalyptic settings allowed “Metalhead” to sit just right with me. I particularly loved how no time was wasted trying to explain why the world was the way we were seeing it, where the robotic ‘dogs’ came from, or anything else involving the survivors. When it boils down to it, those story details didn’t matter because this was a tale of predator and prey. The fact that the predator in this instance was a small robotic quadruped made this even scarier because technology resembling it exists today. In the end, there are no happy endings in apocalyptic scenarios (I wrote a short book about that same theme!). For everything Bella went through to survive, in the end she never stood a chance.

Have you checked out Black Mirror? Which episode was your favorite? Sound off in the comments or email us directly at madnerddads@gmail.com.

jolly nathanThe Belligerent Barnes

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THE LAST JEDI – updated thoughts/review (you’ll have warning before spoilers)

I’ve had some time to ponder STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI since seeing the movie twice and subsequently writing my glowing review. In the days since I’ve watched ROGUE ONE again and portions of the other films. I’ve also talked to dozens of people about the new movie. Reactions I’ve personally gathered range from exuberant to soured with depression. These conversations have made me think about my own feelings towards the movie… I’m not changing the overall opinion that I loved it, however, I will scale back the claim that it’s my favorite Star Wars entry. That was a bold claim made in a “nerd lust” moment which has since simmered to a healthy, committed “nerd love”. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to seeing it again because it does place in my top five. Bear in mind that mere fractions of a point separate my top favorite Star Wars movies.

My revised review of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is 9.09 out of 10.

Earlier this year, The Dull Knight and I posted our editorial ranking every Star Wars film. I’ll post that order here with THE LAST JEDI added to give some perspective on where I think the newest entry falls.

  1. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
  2. ROGUE ONE
  3. THE FORCE AWAKENS
  4. REVENGE OF THE SITH
  5. THE LAST JEDI
  6. RETURN OF THE JEDI
  7. A NEW HOPE
  8. ATTACK OF THE CLONES
  9. THE PHANTOM MENACE

Now let’s get into spoiler-town!

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If you’re still here and haven’t seen STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI then that’s on you…..

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I tried to think of the best way to address some of the points that have been brought up to me. Before sitting down to write this, I came across an article by Cinemablend breaking down the eight biggest complaints about THE LAST JEDI from Star Wars fans. It’s a pretty good read (if you can get over only one point listed per page) so I’ll piggyback off it by listing the basic complaint and putting my take.

Snoke is dead

I see both sides of this argument. He was a very mysterious character that had two years of speculation behind him. Where did he come from? Was he really Darth Plagueis? How did he get his rugged good looks? The fact of the matter is that Snoke was never the intended villain in THE FORCE AWAKENS – Kylo Ren has always been the “big bad” of the new trilogy. There is still a chance we’ll get more from him through Marvel’s comic magic or from a dedicated novel. Neither option would appease the mass movie-going public but the die hard fans (who are feeling the most butt hurt from his premature death) will get a chance to have some closure.

Leia floating through space

I commented how much I disliked this in my initial review and my dislike has grown. It was out of place and the weakest effect in the entire film. Thumbs down.

Rey’s Parents

This has been a huge point of contention in many of the people I’ve talked to, however, still doesn’t bother me. Two thoughts: 1) it symbolizes that someone can be great even if they come from nothing. 2) It’s entirely possible that Kylo was simply toying with Rey the same way Snoke always toyed with him. I could see this being a misdirect that J.J. circles back to in Episode IX.

Luke Skywalker meets his end

Someone said to me, “I waited 30 years to see Luke come back and this is what they gave me?! That’s not my Luke!” I get it, yes, but don’t agree. The movie did a good job framing Luke’s mindset and how he came to be on Ahch-To in the first place. My wife put it well when she said, “Luke Skywalker has always been a little bitch.” She’s not wrong….

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THE LAST JEDI addresses that Luke essentially ran from the legend of ‘Luke Skywalker Jedi Master’. It’s blatantly false to say that this undoes what THE FORCE AWAKENS set up because it was J.J. Abrams put him on the damn island to begin with. He died after finally living up to his legend and giving himself to the Force entirely. His sacrifice truly made him ‘the last Jedi‘ who inspired a new era of Force-wielders that no longer need to be Jedi. Plus, you KNOW he’s going to be back as a Force ghost….

Too much humor

The only instance where I’ll agree with this is the prank call Poe makes to Hux. Although it was funny, it was out of place for a trilogy entry (I say that because it could fit into a stand alone entry depending on the tone). Otherwise, I thought the humor was great. Nearly every other laugh that comes to mind fit in with the moment. Sorry sourpusses, I can’t agree with you here.

All the Canto Bight stuff

I mentioned in my initial review that I didn’t care for this and still feel that way. New aliens = great. Tuxedos in Star Wars = what? Maybe this setting should have been saved for one of the standalones so it at least would have been less out of place. Also, since writing my review I’ve become even more bothered that they had to call Maz up to even get to the casino. Is it because Lupita Nyong’o was contractually obligated to appear or something? It’s a stretch.

It didn’t build off THE FORCE AWAKENS

Ehh. I guess I can see this one but then I can counter it with – was it obligated to? Perhaps if this was the final movie or if JJ also did this one then I could see this being a legitimate complaint but otherwise I don’t think it matters. It’s really one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenarios: people bashed TFA for copying the formula A NEW HOPE set but then they bashed LAST JEDI for doing its own thing. It’s new Star Wars WITHOUT JarJar, people! Just try to be happy!

It wasn’t ‘Star Wars’

I wholeheartedly disagree because it sure as hell felt like Star Wars to me (forgive the rhyming, I’m a tad intoxicated at this point).

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I have no problem with the direction Rian Johnson took and neither did Disney (who has entrusted him with the framework for a new trilogy and a major long term investment). For Star Wars to continue appealing to new generations and remain viable for Mouse House to release more of it until the end of the world, Star Wars has to evolve. THE LAST JEDI, to me, represented a good step in that evolution while maintaining a connection to what preceded it. Think about the long term here, fellow nerds, not just what we’ve obsessed over for a large chunk of our lives.

Bonus point for a friend who has brought up more than once

Captain Phasma – yes, her character was squandered on screen. That said, I was willing to accept that a bit more after reading her recent comic story from Marvel and getting some added depth to her story. I don’t think she’s gone though. The chances of seeing her again in Episode IX are up there with the chances of seeing Ghost Luke.

That was just a few of the points I could have addressed but in the end, everyone is going to have their own opinion on this movie. What did you think of THE LAST JEDI? How do you rank it in the saga? Sound off in the comments or email us directly at madnerddads@gmail.com.

 

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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – Review (Spoiler Free & Spoiler Filled)

It’s here! THE LAST JEDI is finally here!

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Naturally, my family and I were in line for the first showing then I went to see it in 3D this morning. Yes, like a true Star Wars nut, I saw the movie twice before it had been out for 24 hours. Since everyone knows that Santa shits in the stockings of people who support spoilers, I’ll split this review into two parts: spoiler-free and spoiler-filled. The latter portion will have much more substance because it’ll be a challenge to write much about it without getting into specifics. There won’t be any spoiler pictures either in case someone accidentally scrolls too far. If you read beyond my warnings, then that’s on you.

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Spoiler-Free Review

Rian Johnson’s first entry into the Star Wars saga takes place immediately after the events of THE FORCE AWAKENS. Even though the two films are remarkably different, the connective tissue between them is undeniable. The bulk of characters are familiar with a few new additions. Introducing new characters into such a widely defined universe is a challenging feat. Shortchanging character development is difficult to avoid in this scenario, yet, I feel like THE LAST JEDI gave an appropriate amount of attention to everyone who needed it. Visuals in the movie are absolutely stunning. The bar for visual effects has always been high for Star Wars but this installment features breathtaking scenes from start to finish.

One refreshing factor throughout the film is a prevalence of laugh-out-loud moments that never felt forced or misplaced. Reviewer curmudgeons have predictably denounced the humor and certain “risks” taken by Johnson. I feel strongly that the aspects they’re speaking against are what make this the best of the Star Wars movies. That’s right, I said it…. My second viewing today cemented my opinion that THE LAST JEDI narrowly tops EMPIRE as the best Star Wars film. It has humor and ample heart. My stomach bubbled with anxiety for some characters while ‘the feels’ tugged at my tear ducts in other moments. No movie is perfect, but this lifelong Star Wars fan feels like THE LAST JEDI comes pretty darn close.

My final review of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is 9.89 out of 10.

HERE COME THE SPOILERS!

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FINAL WARNING FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN THE LAST JEDI

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Spoiler-Filled Review

I think I’ll break this into bullet points because if you’re reading this it means you’ve hopefully watched the film (if not then SHAME ON YOU). Assuming you have watched it, I don’t need to rehash the plot because it’s been circling your thoughts ever since you left the theater. So we’ll call these “review points” which are in no particular order other than how they pop into my brain as I try to remember to movie.

  • The technology of the First Order is totally bad ass. Seeing the Dreadnought at the beginning really set the tone for how screwed the Resistance is. The Star Killer Base was cool and all Snoke’s gargantuan ship the Supremacy is fantastic. I loved seeing how it dwarfed everything else on screen. Kylo Ren’s Tie Silencer definitely deserved more screen time than it got. Hopefully we’ll see him use it in a full-fledged space battle later.
  • Mark Hamill perfectly sold the current mindset we find Luke in. You could see the character we know and love beneath a tortured soul trying to hide from the world as much as he was hiding from himself.
  • The Porgs were great! Their various interactions were cute without being overused.
  • I’m glad they didn’t show a funeral for Han. His loss is still clearly felt (poor Chewie) while not being forced on us they way a funeral scene would.
  • All the various inhabitants of Ahch-To were fun. The Caretakers especially were entertaining. I can only imagine the many interactions Luke had with them where they merely tolerated his presence.
  • The bridging of Rey and Kylo Ren through the Force was interesting. At first I was resistant to the newer abilities we’re seeing from the Force (like Kylo’s mind reading and stopping a blaster bolt in TFA) but I’ve since warmed up to them. It’s especially interesting to think about once we learned that it was Snoke who connected the two. If he was that powerful, then what else could he do? On that note…
  • Snoke…. I’m torn here (no pun intended). I wasn’t expecting him to die in this film. As much as I’d like to hear more about the origins such a mysterious character, I appreciate that the mystery adds to the inherent terror a creature of his power-level deserves. It’s entirely possible that we’ll learn more about him in Episode IX but I doubt it. With that said, Marvel would be remiss if they pass up the opportunity to expand on his history with their comics.
  • I freakin’ love the Supreme Leader’s Praetorian guards. Everything from their red armor to their varied blade/energy weapons made them completely bad ass. I hope Kylo Ren hires a new batch for his time as Supreme Leader and invests in a generous workers comp program.
  • Another topic I’m torn on is the Canto Bight sequences… Story wise, they probably could have done without it even though it broke up the doom and gloom situation of the Resistance fleet. At the same time, it provided a nice contrast to the grungy Star Wars world we normally see. It was also neat to see the variety of creatures that count themselves among the Galaxy’s elite.
  • Holy shit, YODA! It was fantastic to have Frank Oz return as Yoda’s spunky Force ghost. His inclusion was a perfect surprise.
  • My least favorite part of the movie was the sequence where Leia gets blown into space. I get that it shows how strong her connection with the Force is, but, didn’t we already have a sense of that? I’m actually surprised Rian Johnson didn’t use the scene as a way to put her character to rest (a requirement that I wish wasn’t ever necessary).
  • I liked Admiral Holdo a lot. The character had a certain presence about her that was well suited to the unenviable task she was given. It helps that Laura Dern is a great actress (nice too because I met her!).
  • Rose was sweet. Her chemistry with Finn was believable. I’m excited to see how things evolve between them in the next movie!
  • The scene where Holdo jumps the Resistance cruiser to a kamikaze course through the First Order armada was breathtaking. Using silence and a different color scheme was a brilliant technique to show how unthinkably cataclysmic her heroic move ended up being. Fun fact – I’m guessing people bitched to theater management saying there was a problem with the audio because on my second viewing this morning I saw a sign outside the theater advising people that the movie contains a “creative silence” at some point. <insert eye roll>
  • I’m fine with the reveal that Rey’s parents were essentially no one. Not everyone needs to be part of some huge lineage. Part of the magic of Star Wars is the thought that anyone can rise to be a hero with the ability to impact the entire galaxy. With that in mind, why would Rey need to have some predictable heritage?
  • Crait is an amazing looking planet. I’ve never seen anything like the effect of red bursting from the white with every blaster strike. It was a proper homage to the Battle of Hoth while being beautifully unique at the same time.
  • The “David and Goliath” feeling that came from the Battle of Crait was fantastic. There was a palpable dread that came from seeing the Ski Speeders heading to the fearsome wall of AT-M6 walkers and the surprisingly smaller AT-AT’s at their feet.
  • “They really hate that ship!” Awesome moment.
  • General Hux is such a little bitch. It was fun to see him get thrown around by Snoke and Kylo.
  • Luke and Leia’s reunion was very sweet. It makes me sad that we’ll never get that again.
  • I was a bit baffled by portions of Luke’s Force projection distraction at first. On the second go around I watched closer and saw that he truly never connected with Kylo in any way during their fight. It makes sense in hindsight but on the initial-totally-overwhelmed viewing I missed it.
  • Did Luke HAVE to die? That was my one pre-viewing prediction that was correct. I understand why but mourn nonetheless… His ending was perfectly executed. It was meaningful, impactful, and above all, peaceful. Luke Skywalker deserved such an ending. He’d better be back later as a Force ghost!!
  • The ancient Jedi texts were NOT lost. I noticed it the first time and watched for it the second – the books in the drawer in the final scene when Finn gets a blanket for Rose had the same spines as the ones we see in the old Force tree library.
  • How great was that ending? It was hopeful with greater implications for the entire Star Wars universe. I’m excited to see what other Force-sensitive members of the downtrodden will rise to the spot light in the coming movies.
  • Bonus thought – see it in 3D. I really believe that it’s worth the ticket price. You’re not missing anything seeing it in standard definition (as my first viewing was) but the 3D adds a deserving depth the the spectacle.

So there you have it. Those are just some of my thoughts. I’m sure I’ll have more after the next time I see it (and there will be a next time!). Rian Johnson has earned his place at the helm of a new trilogy. I have faith he’ll deliver because like us, he’s a die hard fan.

There will always be haters. In the process of writing this I came across a few posts from people voicing opposition. I think any outcry we hear from fans turning against it really went into the theater ready to hate it. If you’re like me, and went in eager to adore it, then you’ll come out thrilled. After all, it’s STAR WARS at its best and this is a wondrous time to be a fan of these stories from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

What did you think of THE LAST JEDI? How do you rank it in the saga? Sound off in the comments or email us directly at madnerddads@gmail.com.

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