Saturday, August 6, 2016

Thank You, Zack Snyder for BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE!!!


Spoilers Ahead!

I want to use this post to write about my love for BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and use it as a 'Thank You' to Zack Snyder and everyone involved in making one of the greatest super hero films ever.  The hate this movie has received is unwarranted and quite perplexing.  I thought the theatrical cut was great but the restored true version was perfect and I mean that in all sincerity.  The movie delivers a serious story that treats the audience with respect.   It doesn't dumb down the plot by adding action beats every ten minutes or comedy at inappropriate times just to appeal to mainstream audiences who view the super hero genre as nothing more than "leave your brain at the door popcorn fare".  Thank you, Zack Snyder for this film.  Like Superman doing great deeds and still being greeted with fear and hate, you too have given us a great film that has received the same.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions but I find it so strange that this film and MAN OF STEEL have been held under a higher magnifying glass while other films with more problems are given a pass.  See the CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR for example.  CIVIL WAR is pretty much the same freaking movie yet receives high positive ratings!  Don't get me wrong.  I loved CIVIL WAR too but I think BVS was way better.  By the way the Ultimate Edition of BVS is what I will be writing about.  That is the true intended version of the film.  As far as I am concerned the theatrical cut no longer exists.

Essentially BVS is a Man vs. God story.  Because of the abuse he had to endure as a child by his father, Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) has grown into a man who believes that there no such thing as a god who is good.  To him people only pretend to be good but deep down inside they are selfish frightened creatures.   Superman's existence contradicts Luthor's religion undermining his whole wold view by giving people hope of a better future. Lex sees no such future.

There are people who revere the man from another world as a god.  Lex's view of Superman (Henry Cavill)is that he is a great lie that needs to be exposed.  In a nut shell the whole movie is about Lex exposing that lie with an incredibly complex plan to pit Batman against Superman with the hopeful result of the death of the 'False God'.  Despite all his wealth and intelligence, Lex Luther is a jealous man envious of those that Superman saves.  Why couldn't Superman rescue little Lex from his monster of a father?  After all, the young head of a billion dollar company is surely more important than the average person!

Jessie Eisenberg's Luthor is a man wearing a mask that has already began to crack from his growing ego and resentment of all those around him.  He is a smart man and he knows it.  The problem is that nobody else does.  He wants everyone to know!  He wants everyone to know that he is the one that figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman!  He wants everyone to know that it was he that discovered the great Superman was nothing more than a farm boy from Smallville pretending to be a human with delusions of being a reporter!  Of course letting anyone know would jeopardize his plan on destroying the Son of Krypton.  All he can do is toy with them.

One of my favorite scenes is at Luthor's charity party.  He had invited both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.  Luthor introduces the two neither one knowing who the other is and Lex in the middle knowing all.  You can see he wants to scream it in their faces but Lex can't.  He can only play along all the while going more and more mad from his own extreme narcissism.

Jessie Eiesenberg's quirky and slightly unhinged performance of Lex Luthor disarmed me.  I figured he would create Doomsday judging by the movie trailers and that wold be about it.  So what?  I wasn't impressed.  However, when Martha Kent is abducted at the diner I quickly realized that Lex Luthor already knew who Superman really was.  I was shocked!  I did not see that coming.  Lex became a villain that was a threat.  He brings Superman (God!) to his knees by simply throwing a few photo's on the ground of his kidnapped mother.  Luther's plan is unique in that it isn't about gaining more wealth or blowing up the whole world by the press of a button.  He wants Superman to bow before him and die not caring (or maybe unaware) that creating Doomsday would have destroyed the world if Superman hadn't stopped the nearly indestructible creature.

There is a line in the movie ANGUS about Superman not being brave since he is nearly indestructible.  That is a good line that makes you look at Superman a lot differently.  With his bravery questioned he seems not so great even though he is all powerful.  Batman himself almost quotes this line in the finale at the moment he is about to kill Superman.  One of my favorite things about this movie is that it addresses this issue.  The writers of BVS have created a Superman that can be destroyed with something other than kryptonite.  Bruce Wayne is shown a future where the world has been seemingly destroyed and Superman leading an army of stormtroopers for the new world order.  Superman has become what Wayne has feared most.  Evil.  How can that be?  Superman is still just a man.  His name is Clark Kent.  He has a choice.  Clark can live the quiet life with his love Lois Lane.  It would be a good life.  Yet he can't.  He cares too much and knows he can do more to help this troubled world.  Even though he is a man, he is a good man.  That is a choice he makes even as he struggles to find his place in society as helping those in need of saving.  Yet his good deeds are met by some with fear and skepticism.  Sometimes doing good may even lead to bigger disasters later on.  Lex Luthor does all he can to push Superman farther and farther from society's trust and love.  The evil billionaire doesn't see a bird or a plane.  He sees a monster in need of being destroyed and he wants the world to see the same.

Batman (Ben Affleck) is succumbing to the darkness that has changed so many in Gotham.  He too has lost faith in his own beliefs being an empty shell of a man symbolized by the rundown vacant Wayne estate.  This Batman brands the criminals he captures marking them for certain death once they enter the prison population.  In the heat of the moment he does not go out of his way to make sure bad guys are not killed in his crusade.  If they get in the way shooting, he shoots back.  At first the idea of a Batman that kills really bothered me.  It took me awhile to think about it but I realized that if Batman wasn't willing to kill then there would be no real conflict between him and Superman.  BVS gives us an older Caped Crusader who has seen good people go bad.  Is is about to join them.  You can't but help wonder who Wayne is referring to when he tells Alfred about good people gone bad.  Is he talking about Harvey Dent?  Perhaps Jason Todd?  Harley Quinn?  It is exciting to think about considering that there are at least three Batman movies coming after JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Martha....One of the most profound moments in BVS is when Superman tells Batman to "Save Martha!"  This moment is when Bruce Wayne sees Superman as a person and not a monster.  Superman has a mom.  But that is not all that is happening.  If you remember the beginning of the film we see the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.  We as an audience just assume that we are seeing, yet again, another origin of Batman.  Even though this scene is a dream showing us that Bruce Wayne is still haunted by his past,  we don't understand what we are really watching is the set up to the moment when Batman realized that he had become a criminal.  All this time Batman had been fearing Superman becoming evil when he should have been fearful of himself becoming the same.  The mugger who killed Bruce Wayne's parents murdered them out of fear.  The murderer ran as soon as he shot them, too afraid to even stick around for a quick minute to take any valuables.  The 'Martha' moment has been much maligned by the film's detractors reducing it's importance to nothing more than two super heroes whose moms have the same name.  They are willingly ignorant if you ask me.  I think it's an ingenious way that the writers came up with for our two heroes to find something in common with each other.

Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is so important to the story.  In a big way she is the main character.  Through her and her street smarts she slowly uncovers the devious plan of Lex Luthor to isolate Superman from society and kill him.  She is the link between Superman and the world.  Without her Superman has no future worth living for especially with how negative society can be toward him.  She is a reminder as to why he fights for good.  It was she who saved Superman at the end from Batman informing the would be slayer of a god that Superman has a mother named Martha.

I think it was a great disservice to BVS to feature Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in all the promotions for the film.  The movie itself makes you think she might be Catwoman with her stealing from Bruce Wayne a flash drive that he was using to steal information from Luthor.  They have some chemistry together and her name is never mentioned until the end.  I think the reveal of Wonder Woman would have had a greater impact on the audience if they found along with Bruce Wayne when he sees the old photo of her from World War I.  A big surprise like that could only help surpass audiences expectations.

There is a lot hate for this film.  I have no idea why.  Partially it comes from some fans who have a preconceived notion on who Superman is and how he should act.  They see him as an all wise man always zipping through the clouds with a smile on his face brimming with confidence in his abilities.  That is all well and good but not realistic for a man who is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.  I think if he was always smiling then the nay sayers would change course and accuse him of being too happy.  Superman has a unique relationship with the audience.  Just like the people of Earth have a love/hate with Superman so does the audience.   The audience always questions Superman's reactions to events.  Why couldn't Superman save his dad from a tornado?  Why couldn't Superman stop the destruction of Metropolis and save everyone?  Can't Superman go back in time and fix everything just like in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE?  It is just like when people are in bad times in their lives ask God why.  It is a different kind of fourth wall breaking.

Who is Superman, really?  I believe he represents all of us.  No matter who we are or what we look like, we all can do great things with whatever abilities we have.  Like Superman, we have to choose to do so.

I read an article about Kevin Smith watching BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE 8 times in an attempt to fall in love with it after it released on Blu-Ray.  He sees that there is something good here but can't quite see it.  I hope someone shows him this highly positive examining of the film.  I hope it helps in why he should love the movie.  This isn't a dumb fun movie.  The characters are respected giving them deep convictions, motivations and flaws.  There are many layers to every character and event depicted in this film.  It is as epic as it is serious with many elements to endlessly ponder.  That is a good thing.  It's not trying to be just like the Marvel films.  There is no need to course correct future films except maybe give the movie creators more creative control.   BVS has found its own unique style and is a better more exciting film than all the Marvel films put together.  That's right.  I said it.  Come and get me, Internets!

Let me just thank everyone again for the time and effort put into this film.  Just like the excellent WATCHMAN, the cinematography is stunning and boundary pushing complimented by the rousing music scores by Hans Zimmerman and Junkie XL.  There is a hyper focus on detail especially with the super hero costumes.  There is weight to our heroes movement grounding them in a sense of reality.  They don't look like a bunch of C.G.I. characters flying about more like cartoons than real people.  It truly is one of the greatest most epic comic book movies ever made.  Batman kung-fuing  the mercs in the warehouse with all his bat gadgets was exactly what we wanted in a Batman fight.  It was just like the Arkham games!  The fight between Superman and Batman is legendary worth the price of admission.  Everyone involved in making BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN has raised the bar.  Thank you, thank you and thank you!

Jason





Friday, July 29, 2016

GHOSTBUSTERS (2016) : Be afraid of this one.

Beware!  There be spoilers ahead!

The new GHOSTBUSTERS is not funny or imaginative.  You kind of need those two main ingredients for a good Ghostbusters film.  The jokes falter due to over reliance on improvisation casting suspicion that there wasn't much of a script to begin with.  The jumbled, poorly paced, nearly incoherent story is evidence of that.    Worst yet the characters have very little on screen chemistry and provide absolutely no laughs no matter how hard they try.  Being a Ghostbusters fan I wanted to love this movie but I couldn't.  To put it bluntly this film insults the fans of the old generation while dumbing down the new.

As the film plays before your eyes you can't help but imagine better ways to tell a story about the Ghostbusters.  It would be so easy to put out a third film in the franchise and still have the four protagonists be the new all female Ghostbusters.  We wanted a sequel.  What we got is remake that is suppose to reboot the franchise.  Oh, goody!  We get the same old story of four friends getting together to form a business about catching ghosts and at the end a big giant thing stomps through the streets of Manhattan.  I guess that is the only story that can be told about the Ghostbusters in movie form.  They have told this story three times now!  If you stay to the end you get a mention of Zuul during a post credits scene.  Oh, no!  Ghostbusters is a prequel!!!  What is the deal with Sony and their reboots?  It takes two movies to tell one story that has already been told in a previous film.  It took two new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN movies to equal the amount of narrative put to screen in the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man.

Intentionally or not GHOSTBUSTERS (2016) is subversive with its insults toward fans of the original films.  The main bad guy, Rowan, is a nerd not too unlike the average male Ghostbusters fan.  He is full of hate and decides to destroy mankind by turning himself into a very large version of the ghost in the Ghostbusters logo.  The sight of four female Ghostbusters shooting a Ghostbusters logo in the balls is all you need to see to understand how director Fieg feels about this franchise and its male fans.  Okay, that is probably not true but I couldn't help but get that feeling.


I want to call the new film Bizzaro-GHOSTBUSTERS.  This is a movie that seemingly comes from an alternate dimension that is complete opposite of us.  We get four actresses that belong in the background filling in the title roles while the people we want to see play the Ghostbusters are reduced to nothing more than awful cameos that do nothing more than aggravate the audience and remind us of what could have been. Once again Ernie Hudson shows up at the end just so the camera can cut away from him as soon as possible giving him as little screen time as possible.  He is my favorite, you jerks!  Bill Murray's cameo as a skeptic and paranormal debunker comes across as a dig against all us who waited years for a true sequel.  It's actually heartbreaking.  He was the life of the party in the original GHOSTBUSTERS.  Now he seems resentful of the whole franchise.  To me Murray's appearance is a nod to Harrison Ford in THE FORCE AWAKENS having himself killed off by a ghost so he doesn't have to appear in anymore Ghostbuster films.  How weird is it that a Ghostbusters film now has a body count?

The cast and the director are all wonderful talented people.  It is so strange that everything in this film is so misguided.  I don't understand how four funny actresses that have proven themselves in the past can be so unfunny.  Part of it comes from the lazy writing.  If you pay attention to what is being said in the real GHOSTBUSTERS there is a lot going on with the story.  Ray and Egon are always going on about Tobin's Spirit Guide providing an incredible back story to the reason why all of these supernatural shenanigans are taking place.  They are setting up the villains that eventually show up in the third act.  The story is well crafted allowing several layers to be noticed and appreciated upon future viewing.  Counter that with the new GHOSTBUSTERS and their mishandling of the story.  We have yet another origin story in an already crowded reboot era of film.  This time we have the origins of the Ghostbuster logo explained horribly.  The evolution of the proton pack is shown.  I guess that is neat.........(cough).......The containment unit finally makes an appearance but only at the end as if the writers forgot about it and wrote it in last minute.  Where were they going to keep these paranormal apparitions once they caught them?  In the original GHOSTBUSTERS that was one of the first things built!  You kind of need a containment unit to start a ghost catching business.

The movie is filled with all these weird scenes of random talk that is meant to provide the hilarity.  It all comes across as improved sketch comedy and not from the actual script.  It kills in the worst way possible as in not funny at all.  Instead of propelling the story forward we get nonsense banter about a dog named Mike Hat and some character backstory about Kristen Wiig being a nerd in high school.  It is so painful to watch that you are going to wish you were an actual ghost because that means you are dead and you don't have to deal with this crap anymore.  Every scene is off it's intended beat.  There are no highs and lows to the plot it just is what it is.  Meandering and pointless.  The editing is atrocious.  How did that dragon ghost end up on the shoulders of Leslie Jones anyway?  Judging by what was shown in the advertisements there was a ton of footage cut out.  The whole scene of soldiers dancing like Michael Jackson's THRILLER is removed and put in the end credits for some reason.  Either way whether it was in the film or in the credits that scene is stupid and doesn't belong in a Ghostbusters movie.

I did like the new ghost busting equipment even though they use it to turn the film into an action comedy and make the proton packs themselves useless.  The ghost grenades  and vacuum are the stuff of cartoons but it works in this film.  A better explanation as to why this equipment is needed would have helped improve the film and make it stand out from it's predecessor.  The idea of ghosts that are too powerful and need to be deionized is an idea the story should have expounded upon. The new GHOSTBUSTERS needs more science and paranormal babble.  I don't think the writers knew much about that stuff though as evidenced by EVP being explained as "Electro Voice Phenomena."  It's "Electronic Voice Phenomena."  I bet they fix that in the extended DVD release just like they fixed "Four scientists" to "Four friends" in the first trailer released for this film.  Boy, that was a bad omen of things to come!

At the end after Rowan becomes giant ghost man and explodes out a skyscraper (Miraculously all the debris avoids crushing the soldiers frozen in Michael Jackson pose below.) the four Ghostbusters defeat him and send him back to the ghost world via a portal.  Before being sucked down, Melissa McCarthy is grabbed and taken down with him.  With rope around her waste Kristen Wiig heroically jumps in to save her as the skyscraper magically rebuilds itself on top of the portal.  Time is of the essence! Oh, wait.  No it is not.  Both Wiig and McCarthy are pulled back into our world even though the skyscraper has fully reformed.  Its a weird moment because the portal has closed.  Our two heroes should be trapped in the ghost world.  Instead they are pulled to safety through concrete and glass doors as if those obstructions weren't there at all.  Shouldn't they have been pulled out before the building reassembled?  Did the writers not think of that?  You get a sense that the movie wasn't well thought out.  I think the attitude of the producers was that it is a GHOSTBUSTERS film.  It will sell itself!

Even as a remake GHOSTBUSTERS could have been good.  There are modern day elements that didn't exist thirty years ago that could have been capitalized on to make this reboot stand on its own.  Those people from a ghost hunting show that is referenced in the film could have been used as a secondary villain.  Bill Murray's character could be more than a cameo.  His comedic style would be an interesting twist for an antagonist to our new Ghostbusters team.  The mentioning of Zuul at the end post credits scene seals the fate of the sequel in the new franchise.  Its gonna suck.  However, when they make a third movie five or six or seven years from now there will be renewed promise of better things to come because they will have to come up with new ideas.  It has to be good then.  I guess as a fan of the original GHOSTBUSTERS I have become accustomed to waiting long periods of time for a third film in the franchise.


Jason

Saturday, April 9, 2016

PEELERS has arrived!

The director of SKEW, Seve Schlenze, has finished his next film titled PEELERS!  I reported on this one a while back when the creators were promoting their kickstarter.  The film is done and looking awesome judging by the trailer.  Read the press release below for more information.  

Jason



                                                                       
MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE AND GRUESOME RELEASE
Contact: Sevé Schelenz
Tel: 604.889.4805

March 9th, 2016 –  Independent Horror Feature Film PEELERS set to have WORLD PREMIERE at Palm Beach International Film Festival, Florida (April 6th – 14th).

The makers of the Independent Cult Horror Feature SKEW (2011) step it up a bloody notch as they begin their festival run with their follow-up horror flick PEELERS.

PEELERS - What starts out as the last hurrah on the closing night of an infamous small-town strip club, quickly turns into a night of bloodshed when a crew of coal miners shows up and with them a deadly contaminant.  Former baseball player and current club owner, Blue Jean Douglas has decided to hand over her bar to a new owner and leave town for good. But Blue Jean’s plans are thwarted when she discovers the magnitude of the epidemic that has been unleashed. With victims piling up, Blue Jean must step up to the plate to protect her family, her friends, and her bar before it's too late and she loses everything she holds dear.

PEELERS destroys the cliché stripper horror sub-genre by giving us a story packed with exciting twists, baseball, strippers of unusual talents and a strong female lead.  What’s being described as “Rodriguez meets Tarantino” and “Not just a great indie film, but destined to be one of the funnest films of 2016”, has Director/Producer Sevé Schelenz pretty stoked about giving genre fans a whole new ball game of horror.

Want more carnage?

Friday, January 29, 2016

The correct order to watch the STAR WARS movies!

For some strange reason there seems to be profound confusion as to exactly what order you should watch all the STAR WARS movies.  Back in the old days this was not a problem.  It was simple.  You watched STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE followed by its sequel THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK which naturally makes you want to see how this whole space opera ended in RETURN OF THE JEDI.  But then came the extremely unnecessary prequels and ruined a whole generation of Star Wars fans who just do not know any better.  The scary thing is that several generations are going to still be ruined as long as the nerdos out there insist that the prequels are canon.  Potential fans are turned away from the franchise because they started watching the odd and clunky prequels first.  I am here to stop that if possible.  I will show you the way and hopefully explain why you should watch the movies in this particular order.  Get ready for a long, rambling, incoherent rant on this one, folks.

The first movie you should watch is STAR WARS IV: A NEW HOPE.  Why?  This film perfectly introduces the audience to this new wonderful universe through the eyes of our hero Luke Skywalker.  We learn about the Empire and their main henchman Darth Vader.  The Force is introduced as well as Han Solo, Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon.  Ben Kenobi tells us about Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker, who at one time was a Jedi Knight who was murdered by Darth Vader.  This gives Luke ambition to be a Jedi Knight and go after the evil jerk that betrayed and murdered his father.  How Obi-Wan explains his relationship with Luke's father is very important.  More on that later.  Luke is raised by his aunt and uncle which means one of them is related by blood to Anakin Skywalker.  More on that later too.

Next up is STAR WARS V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  This in my opinion is the greatest movie ever made.  Yes, even better than CITIZEN KANE.  It is not my personal favorite in the franchise but it is such a great film that builds upon its predecessor expanding the universe discovering new worlds and characters that are all amazingly memorable to the point of becoming pop culture icons.  The greatest moment in cinematic history with Luke confronting Darth Vader only to discover that Vader is actually Luke's father.  How profound!  How tragic!  This revelation is so damaging that Luke commits suicide rather than join Vader only to survive by sheer luck falling into a disposal tube thingy and dropped out of Cloud City.  He has reached lower than low.  Also another important knowledge bomb was the explanation of the Force by our new friend Yoda who is the very embodiment of what a Jedi is.  It is very important to point out that Yoda does not use a lightsaber and even discourages Luke from taking his weapons when confronting the Darkside of the Force in the swamp.

RETURN OF THE JEDI is my personal favorite in the franchise.  I like seeing how long sagas end and how the characters have changed over time.  This one ended the best.  Here we see Luke can use the Force to his will yet Yoda tells him he is not a Jedi until he confronts Vader.  That is very important.  Just because you have the skills of a Jedi does not mean you have the mind or morals of a Jedi.  We also learn that Leia is Luke's sister.  Luke doesn't tell her right away.  Instead he asks her to tell him about her mother.  Why?  Luke then admits that he has no memory of his mother.  Leia was raised by their real mother and he wanted to know what she was like.  That is not what happens in the prequels.   Near the end Emperor Palpatine refers to Luke's lightsaber as a "Jedi weapon".  He is pointing out that only Jedi use lightsabers.  Vader used one because he was once a Jedi which made him unique.  In the end after dying, Anakin Skywalker appears next to Luke as an older man next to the ghost of Yoda and Obi-Wan to let Luke know that he was okay.

The next film to watch is of course STAR WARS:  THE FORCE AWAKENS.  This is a fun adventure that is a worthy successor to the trilogy. It may not be as perfect or as deep as the original "unspecialized" trilogy but it's missteps are easily outweighed by all the good.  It's worth repeated viewing in the theater.  The following sequels  would come next in the viewing order by what number they come in the episodes.  I am not sure what to think of the stand alone films.  If they are good watch them whenever.  If they are bad consider them fan fiction.  If they make a Bobba Fett movie that takes place after RETURN OF THE JEDI that automatically puts them in the fan fiction category since he died in the Sarlac Pit.

But what about the precious prequels?!!!!!!!

Easy.  You don't watch them.  They do not fit into the saga.  Worse yet they spoil the revelation that Vader is Luke's father, a crime worse than "specializing" the perfect trilogy.  The only reason Disney included the prequels was to sell more toys in my humble know nothing humble reasoning's.  Even though Disney has made the prequels official canon the stories contradict the originals therefore they are not canon.  In case you just missed it I wrote THE STAR WARS PREQUELS ARE NOT CANON!

A NEW HOPE sets the stage for the Star Wars Universe.  You have to pay close attention to everything that is said, implied, or not said.  I know that is confusing but blame George, not me.  Obi-Wan talks about meeting Anakin (Vader!) and he was already the best pilot in the galaxy and strong in the Force and Obi thought he could train him.  Here he is saying he met him in the Clone wars and it is implied that they were about the same age because they also became friends.  The important details that are left out (if the prequels are cannon) are that Anakin was just a child, who was a miracle birth, and Qui-Gon Jinn wanted him trained to be a Jedi.  You would think that Anakin was only a child strong in the Force and a miracle birth would get a mention at least once somewhere along the original saga.  The whole prophecy and Jedi not being allowed to love would also have come up at some point too.  Why is Qui-Gon Jinn training Obi-Wan when we learn that it was Yoda that trained Obi-Wan in EMPIRE?   A NEW HOPE says for a thousand generations the Jedi protected the Republic where the prequels state that it was only a thousand years.  That is a big whoops!

Either Aunt Beru is sister to Anakin or Uncle Owen is his brother.  They speak of Anakin as if they know him personally or at least who he was.  Even though these two characters are in the film briefly they give tremendous clues to Luke's family past.  Take this exchange between Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen.

Aunt Beru:  "Luke is not a farmer, Owen.  He is too much like his father."

Uncle Owen:  "That is what I am afraid of."

Interesting.  In the prequels Beru and Owen meet Anakin briefly and afterward Anakin slaughters a village of Sandpeople, kids included.  Is Aunt Beru insinuating that Luke is too much like a violent murder?  If the prequels are canon she is.  That is not the original intent of that scene from Episode IV.  She knew Anakin before becoming Vader and that is how she remembers him.  Also why would Luke refer to them as Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen?  Why not just Mom and Dad?  What is the point of taking Luke who was an infant and tell him about his real father?  It makes no sense.  If everybody was concerned about keeping Luke a secret or not wanting him to follow in his father's footsteps why tell him his real father was Anakin Skywalker?  The smart thing to do would be to let Luke think he was the son of a couple of farmers.  That way Luke will not have the expectation of following in the greatness of his father's footsteps.

The prequels tell a story we know the ending.  We already saw it.  The story of Anakin Skywalker was told through the trials and ordeals Luke faced to become a Jedi.  It was that realization that he was walking in his fathers footsteps on his way to the Darkside that saved him.  Luke Skywalker became a Jedi the moment he dropped his lightsaber.  He chose to trust in good and not hate to get resolve.  In the prequels the council decides.  That's not the way of the Force.  You become a Jedi by your choices and not by the decisions of others.

The prequels ruin everything.  Now Vader is not special because the Sith (Whoever they are.) use lightsabers including Palpatine and have the word "Darth" put at the front of their new names.  The Force is no longer spritual but physical being reduced to microscopic organisms.  If that was the case they would never have called it the Force in the first place.  How does Anakin Skywalker show up at the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI when it is established in REVENGE OF THE SITH that it requires super secret training to come back as a ghost?

Remember that one time when Vader Force choked that commander guy for making fun of Vader's reliance on an ancient religion that produced no results in obtaining the secret plans to the Death Star?  Basically that scene lets us know that by the time Vader was being trained to be a Jedi he was one of the last.  People no longer believed in the Force.  Jedi were becoming myth.  There weren't a bunch of Jedi's with a big temple where everyone knew about them.  How could a commander at his age not know about the Jedi who fought so prominently making strategic decisions in the Clone Wars?

You can see how the prequels have changed the intent of many scenes in the original trilogy.  I could go on and on.  When Obi-Wan Kenobi says "So was I when you trained me" to Yoda he is no longer telling the audience that Yoda was the one who trained him to be a Jedi.  Now he is saying "When I was a child I was taught by you the ways of the Force because I had midichlorians in my blood but when I got older I was trained by Qui-Gon Jinn whoever that was."  It's makes a great story bland and that is why the prequels cannot not be part of the saga.  Search your feelings.  You know that it is true.


Jason




Saturday, December 26, 2015

STAR WARS EPISODE 7 THE FORCE AWAKENS SPOILERIFIC REVIEW!

THE FORCE AWAKENS has put STAR WARS back on top again.  It has also renewed our imaginations for a universe that has long been put to death by the stiff and wooden prequels and blasphemous special editions.  Now we have another film in the franchise worthy to carry the Star Wars title.  Director J.J. Abrams has delivered a thrilling adventure tale that succeeds in accustoming the audience to new main characters while maintaining the overall look and feel of the original trilogy.  THE FORCE AWAKENS earns its spot as the forth best film in the franchise.

AWAKENS is the Cliffs Notes version of the original trilogy.  There is a ton of familiarity with the story and its characters.  The film starts out like EMPIRE with a STAR DESTROYER sending a ship or probes out into space similar to Vader sending out probes to look for the rebels base.  Then as stormtroopers land on a nearby planet they storm a village with an ensuing gun battle similar to the one at the beginning of A NEW HOPE in Leia's ship.  Later we see a Yoda type character, Maz Kanata, in a bar where she crawls across a table similar to Yoda crawling around Luke's camp in EMPIRE.  Shortly after meeting Maz, Rey (A new character you will like) goes into a dark area of the bar down in the lower levels and finds Luke's lightsaber and has a strange vision of the past.  This dark and foreboding moment of course hearkens back to EMPIRE again with Luke going down into a dark place strong in the Darkside of the Force and confronts what he fears most.  Also A NEW HOPE gets homaged with the lightsaber being kept in a trunk.  Yes, I am thinking that it is why the lightsaber is in a trunk.  The finale of the movie of course ends with the RETURN OF THE JEDI scenario of a group of fighters on foot taking down a shield protecting a Death Star so the good guys can fly inside and blow it up.  We even have Captain Phasma as a Bobba Fett looking character being dispatched in a comical fashion similar to Fett's demise in RETURN adding in the mention of a trash compactor from A NEW HOPE.

Hitting the same story beats from the originals keeps the new movie from being completely satisfying.   The film makers almost seem too afraid to make something new in case it doesn't look like something that belongs in the STAR WARS universe,  See the prequels for examples of that.  There are many many examples of that in those awful films.

Poe Dameron, Finn and Rey are our new main characters.  Each one is fun and likable with their own roguish quality preventing them from being mere clones of the original main characters.  I feel like the franchise is in good hands following these three.  Of course most of the older characters show up like Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2.  Where's Lando?  You can't help but get drawn into the action as you see all of these characters work together throughout the story.  One of my favorite scenes involves Finn, Han and Chewbacca being captured by the New Order.  Fortunately for our heroes, off in the distance skimming the top of the nearby lake in their X-Wings comes the Resistance. My excitement was so overwhelming that when the shooting started I wanted so badly to take up a controller in my hand and partake in the action fighting along side Han and Chewy by playing STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT on my Xboxone because I am a big lame nerd that way.  Scenes like this make the movie great and just about all of them have something memorable to keep the audience interested.  Like EMPIRE, this is a pretty dark story but there is a lot of comedy too that doesn't take away from the drama.  There is a good balance with the tone.  The comedy makes us like the characters and the dark moments make us concerned for them.

In a couple of ways AWAKENS seems to throw out the prequels and t.v. shows.  It states in the opening title crawl that Luke is the last Jedi.  Now I am not familiar with the STAR WARS REBELS show but I do believe that it takes place between RETURN and AWAKENS and concerns some kid learning the ways of the Force.  Is he dead now?  On an artistic level the film falls in line with the lived in look of the original trilogy and not the soft, sterile computerized fake environments that paint the prequels into blandness.  Even the "Special Editions" are not immune to J.J.'s wrath.  In what I assume is a slap to the notion that Han shot second in self defense we are given a scene where Han punches and grabs a guy hiding from a rampaging monster and throws him into the mouth of the beast to save his own skin. Lucas would have had Han help him out instead of flat out murdering him.  One of the first elements shown for the new movie came in a charity video featuring J.J. Abrams on set of AWAKENS.   Out from behind him came a practical effects creature walking into view.  It was a person in a creature costume with additional puppetry to enhance the look of being alive.  It was glorious to those of us that appreciate the original trilogy.  Abrams making a statement.   That statement was simple but harsh if you were George Lucas.  Abrams was assuring the fans that this was not going to look like the prequels.  He, like us, is a fan of the originals.   Abrams is us.  I appreciated his use of alien wildlife to show us a living universe that isn't just a bunch of C.G.I. cartoons added to the background just so the characters can seemingly ignore.  Again Abrams understands how to flesh out this universe with alien biology even adding a little bit of blood just like when that guy got his arm cut off in A NEW HOPE.

One of my biggest concerns comes from this nagging feeling in the back of my head.  It's the same nagging feeling I had after THE PHANTOM MENACE.  I had questions I assumed would be answered by the following films but never were.  AWAKENS has one question I need answered.  How was Luke's lightsaber found? That is a big deal since it was lost on Cloud City along with Luke's hand.  I'm surprised there wasn't a skeleton hand in that trunk too.  Will the following films explain?  We will have to wait and find out.

The one thing I actually hated in AWAKENS was the death of Han Solo.  Its a good moment that builds on the story of Darth Vader wannabe, Kylo Ren.  However, Han is too good of a character to kill off in the cliche of dying for a greater cause.  He is the biggest reason why AWAKENS is so good.  He still can carry himself as the daring lovable scoundrel he was from the original trilogy.  Han should have lived happily ever after with Leia.  No one would expect to see that coming.  I applaud RETURN OF THE JEDI for not listening to Harrison Ford when he wanted Han to die.  I bet Harrison Ford only came back if he could die thus freeing himself from future excursions into the STAR WAR universe.  He has no time with all this wacky sci-fi foolishness.  He would rather keep on making terrible compromise Indiana Jones sequels.  I am afraid the next two sequels for AWAKENS will suffer from his absence.

For the future of the franchise I really hope the film makers follow the example of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  EMPIRE built it's story on the back of A NEW HOPE without feeling the need to repeat everything we saw before.  There wasn't another big ship star base thingy that needed to be exploded.  The story was more personal.   We are given new environments and characters to discover.  There were no constant sight gags from the first movie to wink at the audience.  I groaned when Fin pulled out the floating lazer ball thingy that Obi-Wan used to help train Luke on the Millennium Falcon.  Please, don't give us more winks, nods, homages and big planet destroying Death Stars.  STAR WARS  was great because it was a new realistic universe to discover.  We need more of that sense of discovery and less "It's like poetry.  It rhymes...." nonsense!

I am excited by the promise of more quality STAR WARS films in the near future.  I just hope it is not too much of a good thing.  Do we really need a ROGUE SQUADRON  movie?  A young Han Solo movie is a terrible idea.   We don't need a movie for every single thing that gets mentioned in the Star Wars universe.  I certainly hope we never see a Bobba Fett movie just to satisfy the fan boys.  Yea, I know he was all cool, mysterious and a total badass but let the poor guy rest in peace as he is being digested for a thousand years in the belly of the Sarlac Pit.

Jason

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

JAR JAR BINKS IS A SITH LORD FAN THEORY DEBUNKED!!!

Back in the day when I was a kid I saw BEASTMASTER.  I was so impressed by the swords and sorcery opus that I declared it better than CONAN THE BARBARIAN.  Then some time went by and I entered my teens.  On the TBS channel BEASTMASTER came on. It had been many years since I had seen it so I was eager to be reminded as to why I would be so bold as to praise the film so highly.  After about ten minutes into the film my appreciation for the movie changed considerably.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't embarrassed by BEASTMASTER.  It was hokey, silly and nowhere near as perfect as CONAN THE BARBARIAN.  BEASTMASTER had flaws that I was too young and naive to noticed.  I was too amazed by the spectacle of sword play, wizardry and monsters.  Older me became aware of the weaker aspects of the film.  I had grown up.

Then came the STAR WARS prequels.....

I admit that when the prequels came out I loved them.  You could not find a more hardcore defender of them than me.  Jar Jar even made me laugh.  However the prequels bothered me somehow. I would not acknowledge the nagging feeling in the back of my head that formed after my initial viewing of them.  I had questions the films never answered.  What was a Sith?  Are we going to learn more about Midichlorians?  Who was Jedi Cypher Deus? (Name misspelled I'm sure.)  Thanks to my friend from Catchaflick I was shown the Mr. Plinkett review of THE PHANTOM MENACE.  I had to admit to myself that the prequels were terrible and not only that but the "Special" editions were an absolute abomination and a true travesty against the storytelling arts.  It wasn't exactly that hard for me to denounce the prequels because I had the privilege of having the original unaltered STAR WARS trilogy as my childhood.  Unfortunately for the kids of the 90's that grew up in the early 2000's they had the inferior prequels.  That is their childhood when it comes to STAR WARS.  Naturally they are going to defend their childhood inspirations and one way of doing that is coming up with fan theories.  I haven't looked into these because they have no real foundation.  Yet the most ridiculous one seems to be converting people as evident by people sharing the articles about it on Facebook over and over again.  Now there is a Youtube video getting passed around.  Apparently Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord....Say it with me in the best Mace Windu voice you can "A Sith Lord?"

The video or videos (Since there are a few on Youtube and they all say the same thing.) I am addressing assert that George Lucas intended for Jar Jar Stinks to be a Sith Lord all along. Parallels are drawn between Jar Jar and Yoda as both were kooky characters but Yoda reveals himself to be a Jedi Master.  The belief is that in the following prequels Jar Jar would do the same only he would be a Sith Lord. The videos go as far as to boast that Jar Jar Binks is the master of Palpatine!  All of this is obviously absurd and reeks of 90's kids trying to give credibility to their childhood by trying to make Lucas a secretly smart storyteller and not the guy who forever will be known as the man who ruined the STAR WARS saga.

Now I am not going to go into great detail taking each point the videos make about Jar Jar's secret role in the Star Wars universe.  Almost all of those points are pure assumptions and stretches of the imagination.  There is no need for this.  Instead I will point to the movies themselves to prove that Jar Jar was just some dumb character Lucas put in to appeal to children in an attempt to make a movie that appeals to all ages and in turn bring in the most monies of all time.  I knew before watching any of these "Jar Jar is a Sith Lord" videos that two key scenes would not be shown.  These two scenes discredit entirely the bizarre hypothesis of Jar Jar's questionable morality and reasserts George Lucas's original intent for the character.

The first of these two scenes come from STAR WARS EPISODE 2 ATTACK OF THE CLONES.  So Jar Jar is sitting in a room with Chancellor Palpatine and some blue guy with horns lamenting that if only Senator Amidala was there she could introduce legislation to create a clone army.  The intent of the scene is quite clear with Palpatine clearly speaking to plant the idea into Jar Jar's tiny brain to propose the legislation himself.  Jar Jar is being tricked.  You can see Jar Jar realizing that he has the power to propose the legislation himself.  The idea would not have occurred if Palpatine hadn't passively suggested it himself.  Only Jar Jar is dumb enough to fall for such an obvious ploy.  That is probably why Palpatine kept him around as some kind of puppet to pull the strings of when something important needed done and no one else was stupid enough to do it.

The second damning scene comes from George Lucas's not canon "Special Edition" fan fiction versions of the original trilogy where scenes and special effects were added to make them flow with the prequels.   One such scene that has been added to was at the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI where a series of shots showing different planets rejoicing the demise of the Empire are shown including Coruscant and Naboo.  During the shot of Naboo as the camera pans across the rooftops of the city if you pay close attention and listen very carefully you can see and hear (With great horror I might add.) the one and only Jar Jar Binks standing next to a steeple joining in the rejoicing by proclaiming "Mesa fwree!"  I poop you not!  Here we see the end of Jar Jar's story.  He sounds, acts and dresses exactly as he was depicted in the Star Wars prequels.   Heck, it looks like he hadn't aged a day in over 20 years!  I guess the Force kept him young, right?  He is the same character.  No change.  Why act silly now if it was done all along for an act?  Why is he happy to be set free from the evil Empire if he himself set it up and is evil?  Jar Jar was just supposed to be a loony Chewbacca replacement  that accompanied our main characters in their adventures through the prequels.   That is all.

Thankfully the creators of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS have come out and stated that Jar Jar Binks is not in the new movie.  The Jar Jar theorists believed the wacky cartoon abomination would play a pivotal role in the sequels.  Good grief!

I guess now the Jar Jar theorists will have to make up some story that explains the RETURN OF THE JEDI scene.  Good luck with all that.  While you guys are at it try explaining why Qui-Gon Jinn (Name probably misspelled but who cares?) is training Obi-Wan Kenobi instead of Yoda which was established in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  Or why was Yoda using a light saber in the first place if he was an all powerful Jedi?  Why use a lazer sword when your very being is far more powerful?  Its like using a wooden stick to fight your battles when you can just use the gun in your holster.  Or what was the ultimate point of evil Jar Jar manipulating everyone anyway?  To create Darth Vader?  To create the Empire?  Why?  The theorists don't cover that topic.  Whoops...

In closing my advice is to grow up.  Learn from Lucas's mistake.  Here we have a great example of the difference between good and bad storytelling in film form.  Its okay to like or love the prequels but don't make elaborate excuses for them.  I love all kinds of bad movies.  BEASTMASTER RULES!!!  I just don't believe that they are secretly smart that only a few people understand.  Accept and move on.  No more fan theories, please.

As the old saying goes, "80's kids had THE NEVERENDING STORY.  90's kids had THE NEVERENDING STORY 3."

Jason




Thursday, October 1, 2015

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT

Two of the scariest horror films ever made are in the 'found footage' genre.  THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY are the go to examples of how it is done right.  I do like the sub genre.  The problem is that there are too many of them flooding the market making the gimmick an immediate turn off to any movie that uses it now whether it is good or bad.  Once you see that you are watching a BLAIR WITCH knock off it is hard to maintain interest. Us horror enthusiasts are all too familiar with this style.  Been there, done that. Sometimes the film makers try to add digital special effects to their found footage movie in an effort to actually show us something.  C.G.I. is too noticeable and betrays the reality the found footage genre tries to reenact.  The audience response is immediate disbelief followed by boredom.  The worst thing about found footage is that it can hurt what otherwise should be a good solid horror movie.  That is where THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT comes in.

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT touches on a real life fear concerning haunted house attractions and the possibility of genuine horror actually happening in those houses.  Are the fake dead bodies displayed gruesomely for our thrills really fake?  How stable mentally are the employees at these yearly events?  Do they have criminal records?  Five friends go on a road trip to film haunted house attractions throughout Texas to explore these questions.  They search for the scariest house possible going off the main roads and into the back woods attractions.  They tempt fate searching for something a little more dangerous following word of mouth for an attraction that moves about never staying in one place.  The five thrill seekers do interviews with employees at the various haunted houses they go to.  As the documentary crew explore they learn that there is a potential danger and seedy shenanigans that could be going on without public knowledge.  This is the real underlining strength of the film.  This is the real horror that the film builds upon.  The concept of not knowing if the guy behind the mask in the dark put there to scare you is a normal guy having fun or a psychopath ready to snap and unalive you at any moment is truly frightening.  After watching this film you may think twice about going to a haunted house for the rest of your life.

Sabotage!   Someone sabotaged this film.  That is the only way I can explain it.   Whoever was the super genius who decided to shoot HOB found footage style sabotaged this film.  There are some terrific Halloween costumes the killer's wear that are amazing.   Some are so good that they hint that the killer's may possibly be of the supernatural variety.  The Doll Headed girl is horrific.  Truly she is the stuff nightmares are made of.  She is amazing to look at but not for too long.  The make-up effects artist that brought her to life deserves an Academy  Award.  The other killer's dressed as various psycho killer's and clowns are equally menacing and do manage to stand out from one another.  That is hard to do since once you have seen one bloody killer clown you have seen them all.  The found footage style mires and blurs the monsters of the film hiding what could have been iconic characters to make this film stand out from the flood of other horror.  The set pieces from the haunted houses are probably wonderfully horrific in person but shot found footage style they too dark to see the details.  The camera shaking about doesn't help either.  I really wish the cinematography of the film looked like the awesome movie poster.  The poster is oddly beautiful in a dreadful kind of way.

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT is worth a watch.  There is truly a scary premise that hasn't been fully explored yet concerning the unsavory character of Halloween attractions.  Having to explain over and over again why things are being recorded is rather annoying but if you can get past all the found footage stuff you will find a good horror mystery.  If you haven't watched a ton of horror movies this one may rank higher on your list.  As for me I found the movie to be an entertaining but flawed exercise in the genre.  If it wasn't for the found footage aspect and rather obvious ending this could have been a modern horror classic.  The talent is there in the story, make-up effects and set pieces.  The makers just decided to hide it all with dark shadows and shaky cam.  Strange.

Jason