“Whose side are you on?” Captain America : Civil War Review

Last night, I felt like a kid again. I really did. I haven’t been this happy about a film since Star Wars : The Force Awakens and I can’t even remember the last one before that. Civil War is what films can be and what they should be. Now, I didn’t just say superhero films, I mean all films. The Russos, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeeley and Kevin Feige have crafted something that is absolutely amazing.

I’m going to do my best to make this a coherent review and not just me fanboying about it for an entire article. I’m just going to go subject by subject on it.

Story

The story in this film is incredibly Air-Tight. Markus and McFeely have done it again, every point happens in a way that it needs to go down and nothing was left unanswered. My cousin asked me something about the finale and I explained it to him about what the villain did just a few minutes prior, if you’re staying focused then this film will explain everything that it needs to and the questions that are left will surely be answered in the near future.

Many of you should know that the original Civil War comic is one of my favorites. It was the first comic that showed me that these stories weren’t just for kids. They had pathos and rich storytelling surrounding these phenomenal, classical characters and this film is no different. It handles the source material well in a way that every screenwriter needs to study for future adaptations. No character felt left out, even characters who had limited screen-time like Vision, Ant-Man and Hawkeye all have prominent roles to play and you don’t feel cheated at all.

On the other end of that spectrum, the film never feels cluttered or preachy which were two factors that I had mild concerns about going in. Instead, we got an adaptation that wasn’t scene for scene straight from the comic but we got to see the ideas of Civil War placed into the grander overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think that this was the right play, we still got many of the great scenes from the comic and it’s tie-in issues and we got a moral conflict where no matter who you side with on the subject you can still see that both of the men just want to do what they think is right. In the original comic they set up the main characters in a more black and white setting with Captain America as the hero and Iron Man as the villain. This isn’t to say that Iron Man wasn’t still a sympathetic character in the comic…he just didn’t really feel like that until Civil War : The Confession came out. In the film, you can see both sides a little easier and for me, it made it even better than I expected.

Acting

As I said above, no one was cheated in this movie. Every character had at least one great memorable scene and of course there are a few standouts. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have been working towards this over 7 films and it shows. They are at their prime in these roles and I never want them to stop playing these characters. Sabastian Stan’s return as the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes is well worth the wait, he has some great moments particularly with Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow never ceases to amaze me, if she doesn’t get her own movie soon then I will be incredibly upset.

The true standouts of this film were Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Their solo films are setting up to be absolutely phenomenal.

Boseman was great from the moment we see him as T’Challa the ambassador to when we first see him in the Black Panther armor. He can be regal and kingly in one scene and then switch to wild and vicious the next.

Holland brings an energy to the character of Peter Parker that you could only get from someone who is clearly having the time of their life on set. He’s a perfect balance of being occasionally awkward but always fun when he’s on screen.

Direction

The Russos have a vision that is exceptional and a big part of why it’s great is you can see that they have a reverence and love for the source material. They love these characters and this universe and they only want to make it bigger and better with every outing. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with the next Avengers films.

Their fight scenes are as tight as you can get them. Everyone has a very distinct fighting style that showcases their powers and abilities in ways that remain entertaining and exciting. It never becomes dull and even after seeing it twice there were things that I kept picking up.

Overall

It’s clear that Marvel knows what they’re doing, they’re making films for fans because they themselves are fans. I love what this company is doing with their stories across all mediums and judging from what I’ve seen it’s only getting better from here.

Make Mine Marvel.

Game Of Thrones Recap: S6/E1 (Major Spoilers)

Seriously, stop now if you haven’t watched the newest episode…Huge, Massive Spoilers!

 

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Alright, everybody good? We all avoided the craziness? Good. Let’s get to it.

For those of you that don’t know, Game Of Thrones is my favorite show and one of my favorite fandoms of all time. Every character is complex and brilliantly written, the surprises are done well and the plot never drags to me. It’s an amazing series.

From the show perspective, this season was the first season that I was actually anxious about. The show has finally caught up to the books and now everything that happened tonight(except for Arya) is brand new and exciting. So let’s get right into it.

Starting off at the wall was a very smart move on their part, picking right after the death of Jon Snow. They even surprised me there by only having a small group being in on his death. When I first watched it, I figured the entire Watch turned on him and they just chose those few to commit the act. Instead, it’s a solid mutiny of just a few.

Davos, Edd and a few of the other brothers get Jon to a safe room with Ghost and they prepare to defend his body against anything and anyone. They make plans to unite the wildlings and fight against Thorne and the other traitors. I’m very excited to see where this goes from here. Will Jon Snow return? Will he stay dead? We’ll focus more on this later.

Then we have to suffer through the Boltons being the Boltons. They are absolutely the worst characters on this show. Brilliant actors, terrible characters.

Then, we finally get something decently happy for a change. Theon and Sansa escape from the Boltons with the help of Brienne and Podrick. It’s a great scene and I love that Pod helped Sansa with the vows for Brienne, it really humanized her character in a way that we don’t get to see very often from her. It’s been one step forward and four steps back for Sansa since the end of Season 1 so hopefully we can actually enjoy this for a while.

We then see the best acted scene of the episode, Lena Headey as Cersei manages to turn this woman who has been an absolute monster into someone who is truly vulnerable and heartbroken. Her speech about Myrcella’s death nearly had me tear up. Her and Nikolaj Coster Waldau play off of each other very well and it’s at it’s best here.

Next up is Margarey Tyrell asking about her brother while getting the exact same treatment that Cersei got. Not a lot happens in this scene but Natalie Dormer and Jonathan Pryce are both great so I wasn’t upset seeing them on screen again.

Ah, now we’ve come to the most heartbreaking part of the entire episode. Dorne. Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes are all great characters but I hated to see Doran die without doing as much as he does in the books and it’s even worse to see Alexander Siddig die without getting more Screentime. Truly a tragic scene and then insult to injury is that they kill his son too, immediately after that. So now Dorne is run by The Sand Snakes. I’m not upset about them ruling because it’s a Dornish tradition that Man or Woman can rule but I did hate to lose Doran.

Next we catch up with everyone’s favorite Dwarf and Eunuch tag team. They’re a great pair to see on screen together, they discuss the different matter of Daenerys’ enemies and the difficulties of the city in her absence. They can then only watch as what looks to be their entire navy is burned.

Jorah and Darrio each discuss loving Dany and not getting her love in return while they are out looking for her. We’re also reminded that Jorah has Greyscale which will kill him soon.

Finally we catch up with Daenerys as she is currently in the Khalasar of Khal Maro. He thinks that she is just another woman for him to enjoy even after she reveals all of her titles and accomplishments. It isn’t until she reveals that she was the Wife of Khal Drogo that he shows her some respects but she realizes that she has to return to Vaes Dothrak to live with the other Widows of a Khal instead of returning to rule at Mereen. Emilia Clarke is always amazing and I’m interested to see how she turns this around because if we know anything about her then we know that Daenerys will make it out on top.

We finally return to the Wall to see the Standoff of Davos VS. Thorne. He knows that Thorne is lying and that everyone will be slaughtered like Jon was. He goes on and says that they still have the Red Woman…one of the men asks what can she do against an army…to which Davos responds by saying that they’ve never seen what she can do.

This is where the show ends, the final scene featuring Melisandre and destroying every man’s minds for the next few days. I intentionally didn’t mention Melisandre earlier but when she saw Jon, she was utterly heartbroken because she had seen him in the flames, fighting at winterfell. We then see her alone in her room staring into the fire. She turns towards the mirror and disrobes, she takes off her red choker and when we see her again she is no longer the young, vibrant Melisandre, Instead she is now a very old woman that appears to be living through will and magic. She crawls into her bed and goes to sleep.

I truly fear for what this means. To me, she has given up entirely after losing both Stannis and Jon, she has nothing left and nothing left to hide. Only time will tell if I’m right.

I still love this show and can’t wait for next week.

Pleasantly Surprised

Disney, Lucasfilm, Syncopy, Marvel Studios and Pixar.

These studios have all created amazing films. Sure, they’ve had a few duds here and there but overall these are the film studios that I can trust. Over the last few days I’ve been mulling over a film I saw on Friday with my best friend Nick, now you need to know a few things about him before we get into this: Nick really likes good films, films that typically involve the creative talents of people like Christopher Nolan, Alejandro Inarrittú, Rian Johnson, Jeff Nichols or Nicolas Winding Refn. He loves the idea of Cinematography, Lighting and Music coming together to form a perfect shot that is just another puzzle piece of crafting a beautiful cinematic story. Another thing to know about him is that he can be very critical of bad films. He and I have disagreed on a few different ones but mostly we can at least see the merits of a film and understand that proper contemplation is needed on a lot of what we watch. So, knowing what you know about us, we were still talking about this film yesterday.

The film is “10 Cloverfield Lane” I went into this honestly just hoping to see it before it left our small(er), picky theater but I came out of it just blown away. From the opening 10 minutes which hardly has any dialogue and instead relies heavily on visuals, to the thrilling, suspenseful finale. For me, it was just a great example of what films can return to.

Mild Spoilers for “10 Cloverfield Lane” ahead.

Nowadays, Trailers give away half of the movie in two minutes. Even my two favorite films of last year(Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens) suffered from it in smaller ways. It doesn’t make or break a movie but I’ve found that the less I know about a film, the more I like it. Word of mouth and intelligent marketing is a very important component whenever you’re releasing a new film and this one mastered it beautifully.

The marketing, like the original, for the film was one of my favorite things about it. Showing a trailer less than two months away from release and showing very little of the actual plot or dialogue was a huge risk and to me it enhanced the film quite a bit.  The fact that I didn’t know(and still don’t) if it was a sequel or an anthology film made it even better. The ending comes as a mild surprise depending on what you were expecting, I had it spoiled for me ahead of time but even though I knew the secret, it was still a great reveal and it’s because the film is just written and shot very well. At no point in this film was the finale given away and that’s another great thing that has been lost over the years.

Honestly, that’s why this film is so great. You can tell that they’re returning to older ways of film-making, The slow build-up to the finale, the occasional tracking shots and the focus on exposition through small character moments. This is genuinely one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time and I can’t wait to see where the series continues whether it is a single narrative or an entirely different film.

At the beginning of this article I named a few different production companies that I have begun to trust and I will proudly add Bad Robot to this list. J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves and Drew Goddard have all done amazing things over the last few years and ushering in Dan Trachtenberg is a great move on their part if they can keep putting out quality films like this.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Let’s get this out of the way: Batman v. Superman is a horrible movie.  It fails in just about every conceivable way a movie can fail.  The story is flat.  The cinematography is dull.  The editing is haphazard.  The acting is all over the place (Gal Gadot is delightful, Ben Affleck is the most well rounded Bruce Wayne/Batman ever, Henry Cavill is unoffensive, Jeremy Irons is great, and everyone else is bad to awful).  The music is really… just the worst.  The dialogue makes no sense.  I really cannot say that there was much that I liked about this film.  It currently sits at a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, and honestly that is too high a score.  But you know what?  I honestly do not care about any of this stuff.  We should have known what this movie  was the moment Zack Snyder was hired on to do this movie.  He is basically a B-Movie director with a big budget, and this simple fact has been shown time and time and time…. and time again.  I do not understand why he keeps getting jobs, nor do I understand why his movies are successful.  The only reason he is successful is that he has somehow failed upward into big franchises.  So, this movie was doomed from the start.  At best, its ceiling was mediocre popcorn film, i.e. 300.  If you were expecting more, well, I don’t know what to tell you.  But none of that critical junk really matters.  I could attempt to impress you with deep rationalizations about its weighty theological content, or its critique on modern social structures.  Instead, I am going to talk about something less aggrandizing.  I am going to talk about Superheroes.  (Mild Spoilers Ahead).

El Capitan, Vance, has already discussed heroism to some degree, with his article on Captain America, and I believe that some of the disagreements he has had with people over Steve Rogers’ merit in the MCU has really boiled down to people not realizing that there is a fundamental difference between a protagonist and a hero.  A protagonist does not have to be heroic in order to drive a movie.  Vito and Michael Corleone prove this to be true.  All a protagonist has to do is be the center of the story, and confront the antagonist, or antagonistic forces that he/she is facing.  Again, think Michael Corleone and his slow descent into evil.  Its dramatic and compelling, but no one could possibly claim that Michael is heroic.  He is a morally gray to black character, but he works perfectly within the movie he is in.  Heroes, on the other hand, are defined by good thoughts and good actions.  They do the right thing, mostly for the right reason.  So Rick put Ilsa on the plane, Sam carries Frodo up the mountain, and Han comes back in order to cover Luke while he takes a shot at the Death Star.  So with that in mind, i must point out that the “heroes” of BvS are, at best, morally gray protagonists, who are also profoundly stupid.

The general plot of this movie is that Bruce Wayne decides that Superman must be killed because he is too powerful.  The reason he decides this is because he experienced the destruction of Metropolis from Man of Steel, which happen because Zod and Superman were fighting.  There really is not much more to it than that.  So my question is, simply, who is the hero in BvS?  I realize the whole selling point of this movie revolves around watching these two titans fight (trust me, its not worth it), but shouldn’t there be some sense of heroism in these two characters?  We see Superman save 4 people in this movie.  Batman saves two.  Outside of that, every action they take is selfish, and worse, pretty self-preserving.  The fight itself happens because of hypocrisy on both characters parts.  Superman wants to stop Batman because he thinks that Batman acts outside the letter of the law, and yet Superman himself killed Zod during their climactic battle in Man of Steel.  Pretty sure that is taking the law into your own hands.  Plus, every time someone mentions that Superman should answer to some authority for his actions, he gets this strained look on his face, even though it is the very same thing he would require of Batman.

Batman (and it pains me to say it) is actually worse.  Its not so much that he straight up kills at least 20 people in this movie, which is troublesome enough.  What troubles me, and in all honesty ruins the movie, is that he wants to kill Superman for purely circumstantial reasons.  That is a complete misreading and misunderstanding of the character.  Understand this; in this movie, Jesse Eisenberg and Batman want Superman dead for the same reason.  They do not trust him, because he is an alien (well Eisenberg does not trust him because he thinks Superman is God, or something, but it is the same idea).  And this movie makes it pretty clear that Superman is to be viewed as a minority.  From the signs that mirror, directly, Westboro Baptist’s signs, all the way to the burning of a Superman effigy, Superman is a societal outcast, and Batman decides that he must die. He even states that if there is even a 1 percent chance that Superman is dangerous, then he should be killed.  That is the exact same reasoning that people have for banning Muslims and turning away refugees.  I think it is safe to say that if your movie makes Batman’s goals compatible with Donald Trump, then you have failed miserably.

And thus we get to the central problem of this movie: this is not Batman or Superman.  This is Batman and Superman as read through the dystopian and cynical viewpoint of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns.  Neither character seems to want to make the world better. Their motivations are completely self-serving all throughout the film, and in a superhero movie, that is a serious problem.  Eisenberg even tests Superman by stating that God cannot be both absolutely good and all powerful, and instead of having Superman disprove Eisenberg’s theory through some heroic acts, wherein people are saved, Zack Snyder, David Goyer, and Chris Terrio decide to follow this challenge up by having Superman go fight Batman immediately after.  This, of course, proves Eisenberg’s point (yes I realize that a character makes a pretty big sacrifice in this movie, but even that sacrifice comes in the context of idiotic violence).

Superhero movies without heroics are useless.  I am honestly worried that someone will see this movie and believe that this is the definitive version of Batman and Superman.  For Batman, they will see a murdering psychopath, who believes that his parents died senselessly, and is so tortured by the memory that he now has a warped worldview, which includes destroying anything that is different.  For Superman, they will see a cold narcissist, who was raised by two amoral people who want him to hide who he is, and who is completely burdened by having to do the right thing.  And, in this day and age, where everyone is so divided, that is not what is needed.  People need to see a Batman, who through sheer force of will wages a war on crime, so that as many people as possible can live their lives without having to go through the tragedy he went through.  People need to see a Superman who is a beacon of hope to all who see him, and who believes in mankind’s ability to be better than they are.

The movie is an abomination, but of all of its sins, the one that will resonate the most is this: I did not believe in Batman or Superman as heroes.  And that is as big a tragedy as there could have been in this movie.  If the movie was just bad i could have handled it, but turning 2 of the 3 most recognizable superheroes of all time into arrogant bullies?  That just makes me depressed.

“One Batch, Two Batch” My Thoughts on Daredevil

*Spoiler Warning! I’m not going to reveal huge plot points but, naturally, I will be talking about certain different characters and their story-arcs so proceed with a little caution*

 

If anyone has paid any attention to my ramblings over the last year then they should know that I absolutely love Daredevil. It’s weird to me because initially it had a lot going against it, such as:

  • It was a previously failed property being given a second chance, which is something that a lot of people would be hesitant about.
  • It’s entering a crowded market of more crime dramas and more superhero shows.
  • It takes a grittier tone than what we’re used to seeing from Marvel.
  • It tackles Punisher and Elektra in the second season which is two more previously failed properties.

Yet, despite the odds being stacked against it Daredevil has become one of my favorite shows out there and I think I finally figured out the main reason why I, and the rest of the world like it so much: It has charm. Much like Matt Murdock himself, Daredevil surprises you with being immensely more enjoyable then what you might be expecting. This show has made me laugh, cry, gasp and scream at my television. It takes risks that need to be taken and it builds upon it’s brilliant story scene after scene.

I’m not going to talk about the plot as a whole because the story is incredibly well done and you should just take my word for it and go watch it.

Setting.

It has to be talked about that this show just breathes life into the city in a way that I really haven’t seen in a long time. It gets some of these perfect camera angles and lighting that makes it seem run-down but then in the very next moment you see a light hit just the right way to where you feel like you do want this city to be saved. I honestly can’t explain it as well their production team conveys it so you just have to watch it.

Cinematography/Choreography

In the same manner as the first season, both of these are outstanding in this show. I’m putting them together because in this show, they go hand in hand. The first season had that exceptional hallway fight scene and the second season is even better. Not only is the Stairwell Fight one of the better fight scenes I’ve seen in a long time but they keep upping the stakes throughout the season by adding The Hand.(A group of Ninja)

This show needs to be nominated for awards just on cinematography alone due to some of the angles they get. What’s really great is that you can tell they have a love for this show and they want it to be good. It’s the same reason I wasn’t worried about the new Star Wars because none of them are doing this just for the paycheck. Which leads me to my next and final point:

Characters/Acting

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The returning cast is even better than they were in the first season. Charlie Cox is still phenomenal as Matt Murdock/Daredevil as I’ve said before he can handle the ruthless aggression of the character as well as the charm and wit of the blind lawyer.

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I fall more in love with Deborah Ann Woll every time I see her as Karen Page. She has that fire that Karen needs but she also has a vulnerability that makes her sympathetic. Karen refuses to back down to Injustice, just like Matt and we need more characters like them today.

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I’ve heard a lot of people give crap to Elden Henson for his portrayal as Foggy Nelson but I think he’s great and he definitely proves that in his multiple trial scenes this season.

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Elodie Yung as Elektra is a definite standout. She steals the scene every time she’s on the screen and when she’s not, you’re just hoping she going to come back soon. Elektra only lets her guard down for one person and that’s Matt. She’s such a great character to learn about and they do a great job with her.

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Season 2 takes on the unenviable task of bringing The Punisher back to the screen. This, being the characters fourth attempt at bring brought to life, was a fairly tall order. Frank Castle isn’t an easy character to adapt because his story is flawed from the beginning. He’s not a hero in the traditional sense and that’s what makes him interesting to me in many ways. There are many reasons I didn’t like the older versions of The Punisher but one of the main ones was that it wasn’t realistic that there would be no consequences to his actions as a vigilante. In this version, no character dies without you noticing it. Every kill of his matters in a way that reminds me more of Sons Of Anarchy than a traditional Superhero show. It’s also helped tremendously by the exceptional job done by Jon Bernthal. Everyone keeps talking about the end of Episode 3 which recreates the famous scene from Punisher #3 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon with Daredevil tied up in chains and Punisher telling him that he can only save the other mans life if he can shoot frank in the head. Daredevil screams out: “What kind of Choice is that?” And Castle responds: “The one I make every time I pull the trigger”

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Now, that is one of my all time favorite punisher moments and it was easily my second favorite scene of his but hands down his best scene and possibly the best of the season was his scene at the cemetery. I don’t want to spoil the acting ability of Bernthal here so I won’t but at the end of Episode 4, there’s a ten minute scene between him and Charlie Cox as Daredevil that makes the entire season.

Overall

If you’re not watching the Marvel netflix shows then you are definitely missing out. Episode after Episode they only get better. The stakes keep getting higher and the stories only get better.

Why Kylo Ren is a Great Character: My Force Awakens Analysis

Wait, Kylo Ren? The whiny kid from the new movie? Well read on and find out.

 

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The franchise had been in something of a flux since ’83. The original three films are universally loved but it’s the expanded universe which split the fandom itself in a few ways. Some people love the books, some people hate them. Some people love the prequels, a lot of people hate them. Some people prefer “Clone Wars”, a much smaller audience prefer “Rebels”.(I love both) No matter what your preference is, Star Wars most likely means something to you.

The newest film “The Force Awakens” came out on December 18th so it’s been out a little over 2 months. This article will be full of the movie’s biggest spoilers and that’s why I’ve waited this long to write it.

If you’re still here…then let’s return to a galaxy far, far away.

Opening Line

 

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This will begin to make things right

7 words start off one of the best movies of 2015 and it’s one of the best opening lines of any film. Max Von Sydow plays Lor San Tekka who is the elder who says this line. He’s a classical actor and by all definition should have more screen time then just the first ten minutes, but I think the fact that he doesn’t is telling us something. How did he get this map? How do he and Kylo Ren know each other? Better yet, how does he know who he really is? His untimely death might not be the last we’ve seen of Lor San Tekka. I think he’s going to be a big character in flashbacks in Episode VIII.

This line works on so many different levels. It’s great for the characters to know that Luke is coming back and it’s a great line for those of us who knew that Star Wars could be good again. I like that Luke is basically a myth in this film, it’s such a cool dynamic to add to it. Farm-boy to Legendary Jedi Master.
Let’s go over the new characters.

Finn

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First up is Finn. Finn adds an incredible new part of the mythos to the film from his very first scene. We come to find out that Stormtroopers were taken from their families when they were young and raised to be killing machines. The only problem : They couldn’t remove that pesky soul and moral conscience which is really what moves the film forward. When Finn is involved in his first battle, his best friend dies in his arms and he loses it. He questions everything and doesn’t even fire his weapon at all throughout the battle. Afterwards he helps Poe escape and he turns his back on the First Order forever while joining up with Rey and BB-8 and finding the Resistance.

It’s a great story of redemption for Finn, he’s always viewed as the traitor or the deserter but that doesn’t matter because he’s meant for more and he does what’s right. Also he’s the first person to wield Luke’s old lightsaber and he’s not terrible with it…just not yet great either.

John Boyega plays him incredibly well and I look forward to seeing him in more things.

Poe Dameron

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Poe is probably my favorite new character from the film. He’s just a cool character because he’s one of the best pilots in the galaxy, he’s loyal to Leia and the Resistance and he believes in the force and Luke. He never backs down from the enemy, even when he’s been beaten. He’s just all around a great character. He’s also the new X-Wing pilot so I might be just a little bit biased. Oscar Isaac does a great job with this character and I’d love to get some more backstory for him in the next few films.

Rey

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Ah Rey, the new champion of the force. Rey is absolutely one of the best and most interesting characters in recent years. She’s our hero and it is well deserved. When we first meet Rey, she’s living on her own on Jakku and is providing for herself and is just being pretty awesome overall. She meets BB-8 and saves him from Teedo, the scavenger. She learns that BB-8 has very important information for the resistance and is focused on getting him to them and also going to the stars herself. They run into Finn and he says he’s with the Resistance which leads the two of them to run from the stormtroopers that are chasing Finn and leave Jakku. They run into Han and Chewbacca and go to ground someplace where they can hide for a while. This leads to a great scene that I will talk about a bit later in the article.

Rey gets captured and later on she has accepted her force powers and uses them to break free after learning who Kylo Ren is. She meets up with Finn and they have to stand there and watch as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo kills his father. It’s after this that Finn and Rey take Kylo on in a lightsaber duel. Finn gets knocked out but it’s when Rey uses the force to bring the lightsaber to her that is one of my favorite scenes of the film. Rey is very strong in the force and a lot of people have said “Well either Kylo sucks because he can be beaten by someone who just learned about the force or the screenwriters suck because we don’t understand enough about Rey” well let me explain : I’ve always looked at the force as something very spiritual and/or mental, physical prowess alone doesn’t do much for you. Rey has spent her entire life believing that she was left behind and forgotten, that she had to fend for herself and that she was basically a nobody, three things that can make you very strong in a mental state because she doesn’t use it as a crutch. Instead, now she has people that she cares about and she has something to fight for. Kylo Ren has been given everything his entire life. The son of Leia and Han would never want for anything and that led him to become arrogant and occasionally weak. He doesn’t have anyone to fight for but himself. This is where Rey can best him, she’s been raised to be strong and he’s been raised to be anything besides what he is at that point. It’s a great scene and a great finale to the film.

Rey is overall a very strong character which is what we need to see more of. I’m tired of boring weak characters that can’t make a good decision. We need more like Rey.

 

Phasma

 

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Captain Phasma is honestly the only part about this movie I was disappointed with. She’s hardly in it and you never get to see her in action. Hopefully we’ll get more in the sequel.

General Hux

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General Hux was great. He’s not in it a lot but he’s a great militaristic villain. He has a speech that basically makes him sound like a Nazi and if it wasn’t so intense it could’ve come off as a satire. Domhnall Gleeson does a great job with the role and I look forward to seeing more of him.

Snoke

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I thought Supreme Leader Snoke was handled well. He’s shrouded in mystery throughout the film but you get the sense from both Kylo Ren amd Hux that this is someone worth fearing. I’m looking forward to seeing more about him in the next two films.

Classic Characters

I thought that all of the classics were handled very well. No one was really hurting for Screen Time except for R2-D2 and Luke but both of those kind of made sense for the film.

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Obviously Han Solo gets the most screen time but seeing as it was his last outing, he deserved a good send off. I thought his death scene was handled very well particularly due to the lighting and the tension that Adam Driver and Harrison Ford bring to the screen. It was a good but heartbreaking finale for him.

Chewbacca will always be one of my favorite characters. He’s just a great character and yes, I teared up a bit when he screamed for Han. His rampage after that was rather terrifying to watch.

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Leia’s still awesome as she always has been. One of the few complaints I have about the movie is not knowing a lot about The First Order and The Resistance besides that one is the remnants of the Empire and the other is what was built by the New Republic to stop them. Presumably when they were building their new military they could only think of one person who could lead it. Leia’s strong and not willing to back down. Losing her son and her husband will definitely affect her in the next film, I’m just interested to see how.

My Favorite Scene/Flashbacks

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One of the shining parts of the entire film is basically everything that happens on Takodona(The Forest Planet) from Maz’s castle basically being the new cantina to the epic war featuring my personal favorite part : The X-Wings! In the middle of all of that though, we see Rey’s calling to the force for the first time. She goes down to this room in the castle and finds this chest, inside is the lightsaber that was wielded by Luke and Anakin Skywalker. When she touches it, she is flooded with visuals. We see young Rey being left on Jakku. We see the Cloud City corridor and hear Vader’s breathing. We see a robotic hand -that we assume is Luke’s- touching R2-D2. We hear voiceovers from Yoda and both of the actors who played Obi-Wan Kenobi. We see the Knights of Ren slaughter a group of people and then we see a vision of Rey and Kylo’s final fight in the snow. This is something new. Something that hasn’t really been seen in Star Wars as a full on dream sequence. That’s what makes it so cool.

Maz finds Rey after she drops the Lightsaber and Rey is obviously terrified. Maz tells her that the force and the saber is calling to her. She also tells her that whoever she is waiting for on Jakku isn’t coming back. Rey runs off but she later accepts the call and she definitely doesn’t run when she gets the lightsaber and goes up against Kylo Ren. It’s just an overall great sequence that builds on a lot and lays a lot of groundwork for the rest of the trilogy.

Kylo Ren

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Now, The final part of this analysis. What do we know about Kylo Ren? Honestly not as much as we’d like but more than you might think. Let’s look at it like this:

  • Son of Han and Leia.
  • Trained with a lightsaber.
  • Strong in the force.
  • Built his own powerful lightsaber.
  • Wants to follow in Darth Vader’s footsteps.

Now, when we first see Kylo Ren he is a menacing force to be reckoned with. He kills Lor San Tekka and then uses a force power that we’ve never actually seen by stopping a blaster bolt in mid-air. Later we see him use the force to interrogate Poe and it looks like he’s using a power that is very similar to Telepathy. So within 20 minutes of the film he’s already used two abilities that we haven’t seen before so clearly he’s very powerful.

He’s devoted to the idea of hunting down Luke and ending the Jedi and The Resistance. The only thing is that we see at multiple different points that he is tempted by the Light side of the force.

He takes orders from Supreme Leader Snoke, who we know next to nothing about but he has clearly heavily influenced Kylo.

Now, here is what I don’t understand : This is a world that loves complex characters.(Check out my first article if you don’t believe that) But for some reason Kylo Ren gets a lot of hate. They think he’s just whiny and that he isn’t that powerful but let’s really take a look here.

Everything about him is ruled by someone else. Everything. As ScreenRant has already pointed out(#5 on Marc N. Kleinhenz’ List of 10 best Force Awakens Scenes) he doesn’t get to reveal his own origin. Instead it is taken from him by Lor San Tekka, Snoke, Rey, Leia and Han.

  • Tekka hints at his lineage,
  • Snoke reveals his father,
  • Leia reveals a small part of his origin,
  • Rey gets him to take off his mask and Han reveals his name.

What’s the first comparison that everyone has for Kylo? Darth Vader. Who tells you anything consequential about Darth Vader in the original trilogy? No one. Obi-Wan talks a little bit about him and Yoda just admits that he was telling the truth in Cloud City. Vader is the one who reveals his connection to Luke and Vader is the one who tells Luke to take his mask off. You might be thinking that I consider this a problem with Episode VII’s script, quite the contrary though, I think it’s brilliant. Through these reveals we get more of Kylo Ren but there’s also a subtext that he is never in control of his own fate…except for one scene. Yes, The infamous bridge scene. No one tells Kylo to go looking for Han, in fact no one even knows that Han and the Others are there yet he just knows that they are and he goes to find them. It’s all been leading to this one moment of Father and Son. Ben Solo/Kylo Ren is split right down the middle in this story, so much so that if his story had been told in any other series than Star Wars then the bridge scene could’ve had a 50/50 chance on the way it played out. Everyone in the film roots against him and the one time we see him take an action of his own merit then we root against him.

Now don’t get this twisted, I’m not saying I sympathize with Kylo Ren and if you’re just angry at him for killing Han then I totally understand. The only thing I want to clear up is that he is actually one of the best written, new characters in the last few years. He’s conflicted, he makes terrible choices that he can’t come back from and most importantly : J.J. Abrams wrote him to be an analogy for annoying fanboys, the people who pick apart a film and say what’s wrong instead of just enjoying it. My Brother worded it the best when he said “A great Villain is someone who reflects what is wrong with our society.”

So yeah, you might be complaining about Kylo Ren because he reminds you of someone…

But what about that final scene? That final fight where he gets owned by Rey. Well I have an answer there too.

Forgive me because I can’t remember who first wrote/posted about the Bowcaster damage but If they are reading this then I happily give you credit for this.

The entire film has shown us that the Bowcaster can do a lot of damage, it’s sent multiple people flying and when Kylo Ren gets hit with it he just takes a knee. Just like “Oh you know, another day, another third degree blaster burn” Seriously, did no one notice that he was limping the entire fight? That he’s hitting his chest to keep his blood flowing so that he won’t freeze to death with an open wound? He’s incredibly physically wounded when he takes on Finn and Rey but then we have the Mental and Emotional state as well.

He’s just killed his father and has made the final action that he can’t come back from. Have you ever made a major life changing decision? You’re not really yourself afterwards. Kylo Ren is no different. So Emotionally, he’s done.

Then we have the mental state. You ever worked at a place for a long time and you know it inside and out and then someone new comes in and they complain about something and you realize that you’ve moved past that? That’s the entire point of that fight at the end. Kylo Ren has been given everything, the son of Han and Leia has wanted for nothing and because of it he feels entitled. Rey has fought for everything and that makes her stronger. She understands the value of everything, instead of the other one who just destroys countless computers and interrogation chairs. Maintenance crews for the The First Order have to have their work cut out for them. So mentally, he’s done again.

So Kylo Ren has three major things working against him in that fight and people are still wondering how he could lose? I guess we just watched a different film. They go out of their way to make sure you know that he isn’t Darth Vader, cause that’s the whole point. Kylo’s a bit of a weaker character when we leave him but he’ll be fully trained before the end of the next film. Speaking of which…

Overall/The Future.

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Look, I’m incredibly biased in my love of Star Wars but I also know a good script and and a bad script. Force Awakens was phenomenal and they cared so much about doing a good job that their love for it pours out in every scene. Star Wars can be fun, emotional and intelligent and that’s what this film does.

On one hand, I’m upset that we’re losing Abrams and Kasdan but Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow are going to do a great job on VIII and IX. The next film is going to do something that we’ve never seen. Show us the trainings of the dark side. We’ve read in the books and comics but we’ve never seen it in the films or the shows. Kylo Ren is returning to snoke to finish his training and Rey has gone to Luke to receive her training. We’re gonna see two of these characters become full fledged warriors of the force in the next one and I can’t wait for it cause the rematch is going to be insane.

I know you’re probably wondering who I think Rey’s parents are. My personal hope is that they are literally no one. It’d make her much more interesting to be someone who is no one and doesn’t come from any certain bloodline. The only problem is that they point heavily towards two possibilities in this film. I subscribe to the Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter theory personally but that’s only because I think Luke might be too obvious. There’s always a possibility of either but as long as they handle the reveal well, then I’m perfectly fine with whoever it is.

Overall, I absolutely loved this film. It was my favorite film of 2015 and it definitely deserves a second viewing from you.

-Vance

Deadpool Review(Spoiler Free)

First and foremost, I’d be a terrible person if I didn’t say : “Do not take your kids to this movie.” This is not Avengers and you guys will have to walk out, have a very awkward conversation and most likely not go see anymore comic movies and that would be really sad because Civil War is gonna be great.

The Bad :

I walked out of this movie a little perplexed, my initial thoughts were “It was really funny,” “Ryan Reynolds does a fantastic job” and “They did really well with the fight scenes” but it constantly felt like there was something missing but I couldn’t figure out what it was. My brother and sister had very differing opinions on the film (My Sister loved it, My brother…not so much) and through their conversations I think I finally realized what it is : Deadpool is a concept piece that will most likely be amazing in the sequel.

Now let me explain, Deadpool starts off with one of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen in a film. It sets the tone for the movie and gets you right in the action. A little bit after that we get the first of a three part origin story for Deadpool. We learn about his connections with the people around him and we learn about why he wants revenge. It’s a very basic plot which is really my main problem with this movie. It takes so many risks otherwise with pushing the jokes to deserve the R rating but then it never really delivers with anything beyond watching Deadpool be Deadpool which is why I think I initially really enjoyed this movie in the theater but the more I think about it, it just wasn’t what it could’ve been.
The comedy does have it’s moments where it’s really funny. There are some moments that are just there to add to the R rating and that just shows me that they were just trying to get that rating. It occasionally feels like Instead of just writing to be funny, they were writing to be edgy.

The other thing is that Deapool is really the only fully formed character in this movie. I can’t tell you anything about the two villains, I can’t tell you anything about Vanessa beyond her promiscuity and I only know about one of the two X-Men who show up and that’s only because of my love of the character. Colossus being one of my favorite X-Men I have to say that although I liked how he was very innocent and kind like he is in the comics, he was made to be a gag character the entire movie.

So Plot and Characters (besides Deadpool) are lacking a bit. That’s my primary problem with this movie and although it’s a big one there is still some good from this movie.
The Good :

Ryan Reynolds is great in this role. I honestly can’t say anything against him. In fact, you can tell that the funniest parts are the ones where they let him just do whatever he wanted to do. He also handles the serious side as well as the comedy in a way that makes me want for him to have a better script to work with. He really feels like Deadpool throughout the entirety of this movie. Any bad that this movie does is counteracted by the greatness of Ryan Reynolds and I definitely want to be clear on that fact.

Now even though Colossus had moments where he was made a gag character, His and Deadpool’s confrontation on the bridge was probably my favorite part of the movie because it was hilarious and was 100% Deadpool.

The action is handled very well, particularly the opening scene on the bridge and the final sword fight.

Also right before the final fight is one of my favorite comic easter eggs of all time and I’m hoping that this character has a bigger role in future films.

Overall : This film tries to do a lot. It does the origin story, it tries to build the characters, it brings in the X-Men and it turns into a revenge story. There’s a lot riding on it but besides the origin and Deadpool himself, it falls kinda flat for me. Now my Sister brought up an interesting point that the first Captain America did the same thing but it also led to the Avengers and an even better movie in Winter Soldier. So sticking with that thought Deadpool will most likely have a phenomenal Sequel just as long as they focus on character development and story and less on what they can get away with in the rating system.

-Vance