Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the finale of the Skywalker Saga, and I have to say, it was in a lot of ways the most Star Wars of the 9 movies. There is a lot of Star Wars in this…like more than you might expect. And that is a good thing.

A quick warning. For those who linked in from Facebook, there are spoilers ahead. I will attempt to place them at least one screen down, and will add a note when they appear, but you’ve been warned.

So, first things first – I liked this a lot. It worked incredibly well as a closing chapter, and while it does leave a lot open for the future – including direct sequels – so did Return of the Jedi, and literally every concluding chapter of every series ever. So that can’t really be a complaint. It wraps up the current story nicely, deals with the death of Carrie Fisher nicely. And, in short, hits all the marks in needed to, and did so without being overly anything. Which is nice.

We begin with a flurry of ‘things happening’ scenes, crossing from heroes to villains, and no real explanation beyond what you see on the screen. Which is very much in the Star Wars model. We move on to the plot, which, as is the norm, has new places, old places, new toys characters, old characters, and lots to see. There is a lot of well done fan service. And then a satisfying ending, which is good to have, again, after the recent backlash.

There are issues to address, of course, as well as some things I realized about this particular trilogy, and Star Wars as a whole, just before I saw the new movie.

Star Wars is most like 40’s movie shorts. It draws inspiration from those, and is designed to mimic them. Keeping that in mind is crucial to understanding Star Wars in general.

Below here, there be spoilers

Rim of the World

Rim of the World

I wrote, some years back, that the lack of character development in Pacific Rim was acceptable, as the characters were all archetypes. From Eager Rookie to Shouty Leader, not one character in the movie was much more than a stock archetype – many from Japanese media.

Rim of the World doesn’t have that problem. It has character development. Much to it’s detriment. The characters evolve from one barely tolerable stereotype to another barely tolerable stereotype. Seriously. That may be the worst flaw of this disaster, but it is far from the only one. This is a movie with so much promise, and so little quality that it causes a serious cognitive dissonance.

There are good bits in there, but they are swamped by the cliches.

Addams Family

Addams Family

I want to give some love to the trailer for the upcoming Addams Family movie. It’s animated, and while exaggerated, the characters are really quite close to the original Charles Addams art. It’s neat to see that. The weirdness is on full display as well, which is to be expected.

The cast is impressive too:

  • Oscar Isaac as Gomez Addams, Morticia’s husband.
  • Charlize Theron as Morticia Addams, Gomez’s wife.
  • Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday Addams, Gomez and Morticia’s daughter.
  • Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley Addams, Gomez and Morticia’s son.
  • Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, Gomez’s brother.
  • Bette Midler as Grandmama, Wednesday and Pugsley’s grandmother who is an expert witch.
  • Allison Janney as Margaux Needler, a greedy reality TV host.
  • Elsie Fisher as Parker Needler, Margaux’s daughter.
  • Aimee Garcia as Denise
Star Wars Ep9 Teaser

Star Wars Ep9 Teaser

And suddenly everyone on my Facebook is sharing the SW9 trailer.

I’m mostly impressed. The flip with the TIE fighter looks amazing, and we all know what a stickler JJ is for practical effects! Many Bothans died to bring you that stunt.

Not gonna lie, seeing Billy Dee Williams back as Lando was nice. Looks like a lot is happening in this one, and there is going to need to be even more if we want to pretend this is actually a wrap on the series.

Yes, I know Star Wars is a kids movie second and a merchandise machine first, but even so, I was not happy to see another ‘cute’ droid – we can leave that well alone, you know.

And finally…the cackle of Ian McDiarmid to close it out? Perfect.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

So, we saw Captain Marvel over the weekend, and it was really quite enjoyable. As I’ve commented previously, ‘did I enjoy myself’ is the key metric I use these days, and it met that metric. The simply fact is that the movie, on the most accessible level, is a joy to watch. Especially for the de-aged Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg as Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, respectively. They seem to be actually having fun, especially Jackson, and just hamming it up because they can. They aren’t the hardened individuals we meet later, which is played to excellent comic effect.

Bree Larson is likewise enjoyable as the titular character. She is confident, smart, funny, sassy, and generally well suited for the role. The plot is decent, with enough background so that people who don’t know from the Kree are not lost, and the plot moves fairly well. There are some lulls, more on that below the fold.

I found it interesting that Danvers was never referred to as Captain Marvel. At all. There was a nicely handled Mar-Vell nod, but not as Captain anything. This is the first MCU movie I recall where no one is referred to as the titular character.

The opening Marvel montage is a tribute to Stan Lee, featuring his cameos and some other photos of him. It is touching and perfect. It was, frankly, an emotional moment. Stan shaped a lot of the stories of my youth, and he’s, really, the first celebrity passing where I felt something over it. I never got to meet him, but I really did – do – mourn his passing.

The cat, Goose (for Anthony Edward’s character in Top Gun), is neat, and the cat/Fury interaction is all it could be. I really liked the entire cat concept, especially the physical bits. Well conceived and written.

This is another success for the Marvel machine. A fun, enjoyable, movie that delivers where and when it needs to. I had fun, and would watch it again without hesitation.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Yeah, I watched it.

And here’s the thing – this was easily the most recursively meta movie I have ever seen. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is a movie about them literally going to a movie, and then trying to get their own movie.

Let that sink in.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is a movie about them trying to be in a movie. And like many animated properties, the script and art are functioning on two levels – the target level of the main audience, and the second level targeting their parents or other adults. This is accomplished here through the site gags, store names (RorShack), and general levels of self-awareness.

The plot isn’t amazing – standard quest to obtain a thing, with detours into the usual young team stuff. Of course, Robin goes it alone, distancing himself from the team. Of course, they get back together. This seems to be a standard Robin move, so it isn’t a surprise. Of course they win when they work together. Of course they are goofy but strangely excel when needed. Look, it’s Teen Titans Go!, not Teen Titans Godot!.

What I love is that it really achieves my current movie metric – it is enjoyable and fun. Seriously, that’s it these days. I will complain about bad CGI, acting, directing, and so on when needed, but I just want to be entertained at the end of it all. And when a movie provides that for however long it runs, then I am happy.

Some of the better moments include the response of the team when previews show both Alfred and the Batmobile getting movies before Robin. Also, the endless use of obsolete technology (cassette tapes); Michael Bolton doing the upbeat, inspirational song titled “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life”; on arriving at the Warner Brothers lot, the line ‘that’s where the Animaniacs live’; the easily avoided superhero origins…including the Titans easily and instantly saving Krypton; Stan Lee’s cameos were perfect; and the big one…