I watched “High Score” Episode 1 yesterday while I was working out. It was suggested to me by Netflix when I logged into the account to watch another docuseries I had been watching, “Champions”. Well, not one to pass up history of video games, I switched for the next week or so. Look, I realize that this isn’t at all related to Nintendo or Pokemon, as promised earlier in the week. However, TLDR, it was good enough to inspire me to write this review.
Space Invaders – “Grandpa”
There’s a reason that I went gender specific with the subtitle and it isn’t strictly personal bias. They mention in the episode that women felt left out of the realm of video games. I think the exact quote was, “There are no games for women.” That’s not a surprise. For much of the history of math and related subjects, women have been a footnote of that history. Unless, they are seen as consumers to be exploited. But, more on that in the next section.
My favorite part of the Space Invaders story is that a woman became the first Space Invaders world champion. And so, once again, a woman ignored the restrictions placed on her by society and proved herself as the “best man for the job”. Congrats, Rebecca Heineman, your story was inspiring and I genuinely smiled at the conclusion.
Before we move on, a couple of notable factoids. The game was so popular that arcades were often called “Invader houses”. Also, Japan suffered a 100-yen coin shortage because of that popularity. Crazy.
Pac-Man – “A little somethin somethin for the ladies”
I will give the compsci nerds credit. When they realized that women weren’t playing video games, they tried to do something about it. Generally speaking, that segment of the population (be it women or men like me) aren’t attracted to games that are simply shooting at things. Enter Pac-Man.
The creator of the game insists that the iconic shape is, in fact, inspired by a pizza with one slice missing. No idea if that’s actually true, but it does validate years of speculation. During the segment, they talk to two teenage girls from the time that seem to uphold the theory that Pac-Man brought girls into video games. I’m not sure what it says about me that I’ve always preferred Pac-Man from that generation of video games.
I hadn’t planned on ending each section with a random factoid, but I have one for our round yellow friend. His name was originally Puck Man, which makes more sense. However, as Puck very easily becomes a well know obscenity, they changed it.
Father of the Cartridge – Jerry Lawson
They interviewed his kids in High Score episode 1. Unfortunately, he passed away about 10 years ago. However, when his son said his name, I paused briefly and said, “Hey, I know that name.” It’s no wonder why. For a generation of gamers my age, he revolutionized the way we played. No longer were consoles restricted to one game any more.
With cartridges, as his son says, your library increased exponentially. Alas, other than video game historian nerds like me, his name has been relegated to an afterthought. Once Atari got into the cartridge business, nobody else stood a chance. More on that 900-lb gorilla in the next section.
Random Factoid: When I was younger, I split my head open and had to get 14 stitches. My parents, so impressed by my handling of the situation, let me get a gift. I chose Jungle Hunt because I played the game in the arcade and enjoyed it so much. Incidentally, when we got the Atari 7800, I bought the game again, making it the first game I purchased more than once.
Atari – “Big Bad”
Like most people at the time, I loved Atari. Even after they crashed and burned with ET (see next section), I still loved the company and support them even today. I haven’t ordered their new console, yet. However, one of the first things I do when I get a new computer is download Stella and a few of my favorite games.
I probably should have, but I had no idea that they were such bullies in the industry. It started innocently enough as a bunch of guys making video games. Then, the company sold to Warner and its a tale as old as time. The suits tried to squeeze every last penny out of the company. They sued a bunch of college kids for making improvements to their games. They bullied Midway into allowing them to release a version of Pac-Man using pretty much the same technology that they attempted to end with the lawsuit. And then, their come uppance.
Random Factoid: I promised a conversation about ET in the next section. Before that, I did want to speak on the process. Apparently, the programmer had 5 weeks to program the game. At the time, it took anywhere from 6-8 months to develop a game. Also, when meeting with Steven Spielberg (after only 36 hours to develop a pitch), the programmer said that Spielberg wanted the game to be more like Pac-Man. See, it could have been worse.
ET – What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Apparently, you can’t have a video game documentary without mentioning ET. Hell, they made a whole movie about that single game. As is often the case, the story is a bit more complicated than just ET killed Atari.
But, for the sake of this article, I’m choosing to be poetic about it. Karma can be swift and furious vengeance. Atari paid for their hubris when they made the “worst game ever.
Random Factoid: I know I’ve told this story before, but here goes. I liked the ET game. Yes, the controls are frustrating. Sure, given more time, they could have polished it a bit more. But, I played the hell out of it and beat the game. Hell, it is one of the games that I download first after configuring Stella. It certainly doesn’t deserve the reputation it’s gotten. Alas, that’s how myths grow.
The Verdict – High Score episode 1 makes me want to watch the rest of the series
If you read the TLDR at the beginning of the article and you are still here, it bears repeating. High Score episode 1 is entertaining and engaging. I’m looking forward to watching the other five episodes. If you like human interest stories or video games, then I think you’ll like this series. Come watch with me!
It would seem that our “week” of Pokemon coverage has expanded into weeks and might even surpass a month once all is said and done. If you’re okay with it, I’m okay with it. I’m just glad to be covering gaming content again on the gaming web page. That’s why it is exciting to be covering Detective Pikachu.
Wait, what’s this? It’s a movie? There’s a Pokemon movie and it’s not the one where Ash is perpetually 8 years old? I’m going to steal from my own Facebook page and say, “What even is this?” Well, the kids like Pokemon and it’s raining out. Might as well give this a chance.
The Great (There’s quite a bit to enjoy about Detective Pikachu)
Pokemon are real – If that statement sounds weird, that’s because it is. I mean, who among us didn’t want to live in a place where Pokemon are real at least once in our young lives. Well, technically not me because I was well into high school when Pokemon released, but you get the point. How cool would it be to live in a world with Pokemon.
Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu – Wait, that voice is familiar. Is that…Deadpool? Yes, true believers, your favorite merc with a mouth is voicing Pikachu for the movie. My wife, who is hopelessly in love with him, said, “Oh, I’ll stick around if he’s in it.” Well, jokes on you, Missy, it was just his voice! Ha! Take that! Jealous? Who’s jealous? Deadpool wasn’t even that good.
Easter Eggs – There are so many references to the games that I lost count very early in the movie. Obviously, the kids (especially Quinn, but Aiden, too) were name checking every Pokemon that showed up. However, if you’ve ever played a Pokemon game, chances are that you’d have recognized many of the references in this movie.
Mewtwo! – Mewtwo has been my favorite Pokemon since I learned about the existence of him as the mythical 150th Pokemon. Sure, I didn’t include him in my cube, but that’s more a function of simply copying something that already existed. Perhaps my next swing at a cube will involve Mewtwo. You know what. It most certainly will.
The Good (As you might expect, a movie about Pokemon in the real world is a bit uneven)
Funny – There was more than one part where we were all (minus my wife who was probably just imagining Pikachu in a Speedo) laughing hysterically. The movie is funny and not just in an inside joke way, either. Of course, there are the jokes that only Pokemon fans will get, but the movie does attempt to appeal to a broader audience.
The Decent (What even is Detective Pikachu?)
Weird Story – While I appreciate that they went away from the perpetually 8 years old Ash as the protagonist, I’m not entirely sure where the inspiration for this story came from. I do appreciate that the tongue in cheek film noir vibe that the movie is trying to emulate. But, it’s just so weird.
Audience? – Speaking of weird, I’m not sure who the target audience is for the movie. Obviously, you would think kids and that would make sense. However, I remember when the movie came out that some people were saying the movie most definitely wasn’t geared to kids. That might be true but it made me think that it would be more “adult”. But, it isn’t. It’s in this in between mode that adds even more weird to the proceedings.
The Verdict (Detective Pikachu is mostly harmless)
The kids enjoyed the movie. You could tell by the way that they name checked the various Pokemon and Liam especially was enamored with the region that was the movie’s setting. Christine didn’t like it. She was not shy about saying to Quinn, “No” when he asked if she liked the movie.
I was busy cooking a turkey dinner during the movie so I can’t say definitively if I liked it or not. You might expect that I didn’t because I kept referring to it as “weird”, but that’s not entirely true. I liked what I saw of the movie and I’d like a second chance to see if I can figure it out.
When discussing this article with Chris, I initially told him that I was going to write a defense of Cloverfield Paradox. A�After thinking about it for a minute, I amended that to support. A�First, I’m sick of defending things that I like from people who don’t like them. A�You don’t like something? A�Fine, but at least come up with a reasonable defense of why you don’t like it. A�We live in a culture that has glorified hate simply for the sport of it.
It has most recently coalesced around the release of Black Panther. A�I knew from the beginning that the release of the movie was going to be an epic crap storm of racists posting, tweeting, and outright lying about both the movie and the events surrounding the movie. A�True to form and the human condition (of which I am both amazingly inspired and terrifyingly suspect), things were much worse that I could ever have expected.
But, this article isn’t about Black Panther. A�There will be an article about Black Panther once I get around to seeing it. A�I’ve been so busy with my 3 jobs that I haven’t had a chance. A�This article is about Cloverfield Paradox specifically and the Cloverfield “franchise” in general. A�I put franchise in quotes because nobody is entirely sure if these movies actually share anything in common other than the fact that JJ Abrams has chosen to take movies, insert out of context plot elements into them, and let people argue over what those out of context elements might mean.
“Okay,” some of you are saying, “you are making our argument for us. A�I thought you said this was going to be an article supporting the movie.” A�Well, you can interpret that last statement as a negative if you want. A�I think that says more about you than I ever could. A�I was simply stating a fact. A�As of right now, there is no judgement in that statement. A�The judgement comes next.
Marketing: A�If there’s been one consistent in the three movies that can loosely be called a franchise, it is that they have mastered marketing. A�The first one was involved in a ridiculously intricate viral web campaign back when that was a thing that led people chasing wild goose after wild goose. A�Not being one to be in the loop on these things, I had no idea about any of it until after I saw the movie and went searching for some background information. A�For some reason, I don’t care all that much about the origins of Godzilla or King Kong. A�But, this movie left just enough unsaid that I wanted to know more.
The second movie was so under the radar that I only peripherally knew about it because it used the word Cloverfield in the title. A�Huh, I thought,A�that’s weird that it is called 10 Cloverfield Lane. A�For some reason, though, this curiosity didn’t lead me to explore further. A�Probably because they marketed it as a completely different movie. A�It was a closed house thriller along the lines of Panic Room. A�Or, so I thought.
It wasn’t until the third movie that I realized that there were three. A�Netflix released this movie after the Super Bowl ended, showing that they can basically just beam stuff into your brain, or they will be able to once they figure out the technology, truly on demand. A�Well, at least on me (someone who isn’t often affected by ridiculous gimmicks), it worked and I stayed up until almost 2 o’clock in the morning watching the movie even though I had to be up at 7 for work. A�Furthermore, I wasn’t upset that I had given up sleep.
Science?: A�For a science fiction movie, the science of the movie wasn’t the focus. A�While that isn’t unusual, this seemed like the type of science fiction movie that wanted to focus on the science and have the option for fiction due to the science. A�Does that make sense? A�Probably not, so I’ll try to explain.
I don’t go into Star Wars expecting exact, or even accurate, science. A�Nerds are constantly trying to point to the fact that hyperspace can’t possibly be real and that lightsabers are physically impossible, but I simply don’t care. A�The latest nerd rage came when (spoiler alert), the ship jumped to lightspeed and blew up the other ship. A�That’s not why I’m at Star Wars. A�I’m there for the pew, pew, the vwoom, vwoom, and the music mostly. A�The plot is basic and some of the characters are cool, but for me Star Wars is just the comfy blankie from when I was younger.
Other science fiction stories try to get it right. A�They mostly fail, but at least they put some science stuff in there to make it seem like they know what the hell they’re talking about. A�I’m referring to the disaster movies like Twister or Armageddon. A�They throw all kinds of smart stuff out there for what they believe is the benefit of the audience to keep them in the fiction. A�Ultimately, though, they just end up sounding foolish and like theater people that failed science in high school.
At the beginning of the movie, I thought that the Cloverfield Paradox was going to be like the second type of movie. A�Because JJ Abrams made Star Trek more like that type of movie with the dark matter explanation. A�I should have known better. A�JJ Abrams likes to think that he’s one step ahead of people and zig when they expect him to zag. A�I wasn’t exactly zigged or zagged. A�Just a bit surprised.
The movie starts with some discussion of physics and the physics of alternate realities. A�Past, present, future, distorted time and space, that sort of thing. A�Then, it gets real quiet about it and just lets the science sort of tell the story. A�There is some mention later in the movie, but they don’t keep hitting you over the head with what is happening. A�Really, in my opinion, this is the best way to do things. A�Give the science and then just get the hell out of the way.
Weird: A�As a result of the introduction of quantum physics into the movie, they can make it weird and have a reason for it being weird. A�Because people, including those like me who only study it as a hobby, don’t completely understand the science behind it, you can do almost anything and it becomes plausible in the fiction.
While this kind of story can make some people uncomfortable, I absolutely love it. A�It gets my brain moving and causes me to think. A�Since most entertainment is just about turning off our brains and marveling (pun fully intended) at the two freaks of nature punching each other, I find it refreshing when something comes along and challenges me to be a little more active in the process.
Just Dumb Fun: A�I had a conversation with a friend on Facebook about the movie. A�See, I posted there that I had watched it the night of the Super Bowl and then suddenly, I started seeing posts about it in my feed. A�It’s built into Facebook’s mind reading…er, algorithms. A�You get stuff that they think you want to see. A�It’s not that I didn’t want to see other opinions. A�It’s just a little unsettling anytime that Facebook gets that far into your brain.
He was one of the people who didn’t particularly care for the movie. A�I had no idea that there was such a backlash to it until I noticed that he didn’t like the movie, so I went in search of other opinions counter to my own. A�I saw that there were, in fact, people who didn’t like the movie. A�And, it wasn’t just that they didn’t like the movie. A�They really didn’t like the movie. A�That was how his post came across. A�He really didn’t like this movie.
Well, armed with this new information, I decided to show my support. A�I responded, “I liked it. A�It was just dumb fun.” A�He replied, “Is that what we’ve come to expect from this franchise?” A�I was dumbfounded. A�Suddenly Cloverfield is a venerated franchise that we’ve come to expect things from? A�I mean, it was ultimately revealed that the first one was about a giant baby monster destroying Manhattan in a temper tantrum because he missed his mommy. A�That’s a fairly ridiculous premise. A�I know what you’re probably thinking right now. A�This movie both made you think and was just dumb fun? A�What the hell?
Note: A�I’m going to change the format a bit for this article. A�I couldn’t argue anything negative about the movie. A�That’s not to say that it is a perfect movie. A�I wouldn’t even argue that it’s a great movie. A�But, it was a good movie and that’s how I want to remember it. A�Since I am mostly a positive person, instead of arguing my own bad, I will argue against the negatives that I’ve seen online and elsewhere. A�Besides, the article is supposed to be in support of the movie.
Not related to the other movies: A�I have seen and heard this argument made more and more in the weeks since the movie was released. A�Most recently, I’ve heard it argued as being a movie that was another movie that got bought out by JJ Abrams production company, slapped some Cloverfield paint on it, and released it straight to Netflix. A�This argument goes on to say that the “Netflix Exclusive” label is starting to lose some of its shine and starting to become this generation’s “Straight to cable/DVD”. A�I won’t argue with that. A�Netflix has had some strong original programming, but they are starting to get a little lazy with their originals lately.
This movie might be an extension of that and the fact that JJ Abrams seems to have created this “world” in which he can just drop some monsters or aliens, put the “Cloverfield” label on the movie, market it with some intrigue, and people will watch. A�I certainly did. A�But, I will argue that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve had a discussion with a few people, including those who are involved in creative careers and they all agree that every now and then you just have to shut off your brain and have fun. A�Not everything needs to be a life changing experience. A�So what if Abrams has demystified the Cloverfield mystique? A�Honestly, if it could be taken away that quickly, was it really even there to begin with?
Confusing: A�The other argument that I’ve heard against the movie is that it is confusing. A�Honestly, if this is a complaint that you have about the movie, I can’t really help you. A�As I mentioned earlier, it is weird (even campy), but that weirdness gets an explanation almost as soon as the movie starts. A�Again, some have pointed to this explanation as evidence of the previous point. A�Again, I won’t argue against that. A�Clearly, Cloverfield isn’t a franchise in the traditional sense of the word. A�Instead, every few years, we will get another “Cloverfield” movie.
Back to the explanation. A�Donal Logue, who I know as the stoner guy from VH1’s “I Love the….” series, is a paranoid YouTube personality (Maybe? It was very late/early in the morning when I watched it) that explains that by doing what they are about to do, they can affect multiple dimension, past, present, future. A�Call it lazy. A�Call it irresponsible. A�Call it whatever else you want to call it. A�I call it genius. A�In one reshoot, they explained the whole damn thing and set it up for whatever the hell they want to do going forward.
I’ve written several times of the toxic influence of the internet and how quickly things can spread. A�I had always hoped, perhaps naively, that would mean that information could become so ubiquitous as to make it irrelevant in the constant power struggle that we seem to have set up for ourselves and our species. A�I never considered that it is just as easy to spread misinformation and disinformation and lead to an increase in that struggle. A�I suppose I should have. A�I also suppose that I should be grateful. A�As an educator, I am a professional mythbusters, so the more myths, the more busting I have to do.
As a result of the ease with which information travels over this superhighway, fringe elements have become just as “reliable” as the general consensus for a lot of things. A�People who shout that they are mad about a black stormtrooper in Star Wars might only be a couple of dudes in their mom’s basement posting the same message over and over on message boards and social media. A�Due to the overly reactionary news cycle, someone picks it up, and then it becomes a platform upon which people are willing to fight and die.
I don’t know if this Cloverfield Paradox reaction is indicative of the majority or simply a fringe element. A�I do know that it hasn’t been met with the same vitriol as some of the other movies that have become a target recently. A�People are mostly just disappointed, which makes me think that it is a genuine reaction. A�However, the fact that there were such high expectations going into the movie that those expectations would not be met is puzzling to me.
Note: A�A visit to Rotten Tomatoes shows that it has a 17% with critics and a 48% (with a 3.1 out of 5 star average, so not sure how that works) score with fans, so it appears to be more or less not great by most standards.
Is Cloverfield Paradox a great movie? A�Not by any stretch of the imagination. A�Is Cloverfield Paradox a good movie? A�Not by many traditional measures, no. A�Is Cloverfield Paradox an entertaining movie? A�Yes, I can confirm that my sleep deprived brain got full entertainment from the movie.
And, honestly, thata��s all Ia��ve come to expect from the movies.A� The first one was silly, dumb fun.A� I never saw the second one, but it sounds like it might have been the one to set expectations so high for this one.A� Although, from the sounds of it, the ending should have drawn the battle lines pretty clear for people.A� There are no rules in these universes.A� Anything goes.A� Be prepared for good, bad, ugly, and the just plain silly.A� Have some fun with it.A� Or dona��t.A� Wea��ll keep on doing our thing.
A little over 2 weeks ago, we went to see The Last Jedi.A� I invited my father in law because he went to see The Force Awakens with us and seemed to have a good time.A� Also, we enjoy our traditions in this family.A� Counter to seemingly everyone else, I went in search of leaks and spoilers.A� I have not been indoctrinated by pop culture to yearn for that “gotcha” moment to keep me entertained, so I don’t mind going in “spoiled”.A� I found a reddit thread that seemed legit and sated my Star Wars fever for a few days.A� I also stumbled on some hatred.A� While not unusual for a Star Wars film, this felt different.A� I will cover it more in the Ugly section.A� I also waited to write this review because I had made plans to see it again this past weekend, but they never materialized.A� So, before I forget any more details about the movie, on to the review.
At the risk of sounding cliche, the movie is good because it is Star Wars.A� Hey, the only reason that sounds cliche around here is because that is my one hacky writer move that I repeat in every one of these reviews.A� As usual, though, it is true.A� All of the things that make a Star Wars movie great are present in this film.A� Lightsaber battles, dog fights on planets and in space, family tension, mystery, cute stuffy type animals, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” (it’s hidden pretty well because I missed it), wonderful scenery, cool new aliens, and Princess/General Leia.
After the near shot for shot remake of the original movie as The Force Awakens, I feared that we were in for a retelling of the original trilogy with new characters.A� That simply wasn’t true for this movie.A� Sure, there were tidbits that called back to the original movies, but this movie is exactly what it needed to be.
When talking with my friend that wanted to make plans to see it this weekend, that’s where I ended up on the movie.A� He asked me what I thought, and I said, “I loved it.”A� Then I started to walk that statement back a bit.A� It’s not that I didn’t love it, it’s just that there’s been some push back to this movie.A� I suppose that those complaints are valid in some form or fashion.A� I mean, even Luke Skywalker himself has said that he didn’t like the direction of his character for the movie.A� It’s just that I don’t agree with those criticisms.
So, I started with “I love it” and that is my true, unfiltered opinion of the movie.A� He replied, “Really?”A� I had no idea what that meant nor implied.A� Perhaps he had heard some of the criticisms of the film and now I’d have to defend this thing that I love because that’s what we have to do now.A� It’s not simply enough to say that you don’t like it.A� You have to tear it down and make the person who does like it feel bad about themselves for liking it and force them to defend it even though you have no intention of listening to their defense or changing your mind.A� It’s all very exhausting.
I have no idea if that’s what his “Really?” really meant or not.A� So, instead of launching into a lengthy defense of the movie, I took a breath and simply said, “It is exactly what it needed to be.”A� So, what does that mean?A� It serves as a bridge, giving old fans what they need to say good bye to their old heroes and giving new fans heroes of their own that they will have to say good-bye to someday.A� And, that’s where some of the normal Star Wars fan hatred is coming from.A� Change is difficult and scary.A� But, it is necessary so that things don’t become stagnant.A� I thought that this movie did a great job of showing that change in as thoughtful a way as it could, but people still weren’t happy.A� I was, though.A� As soon as we walked out of the theater, I looked at Aiden and said, “Let’s sneak into that theater and watch it again.”A� We didn’t, but I was completely serious.
I’ve only seen it once and it was through the eyes of younger me as a fan and not as a critic at all.A� Therefore, I don’t have a ton of negative things to say about the movie, but at least they are the kinds of things that we always say about these movies.A� Hey, we Star Wars fans are nothing if not consistently inconsistent.
Okay, so what do we always complain about?A� First, Captain Phasma died in a Boba Fett fashion.A� Second, cool characters like Maz and evil BB-8 were underutilized.A� Third, porgs?A� Seriously?A� Like I said, ever since Ewoks, there have been the stuffy friendly characters to keep the kids entertained and I must have finally transitioned from kid Star Wars fan who loved the Ewoks to grumpy old man Star Wars fan who could have done without the porgs entirely.A� I understand that they were inspired by the puffins or something native to the island.A� I just wished they weren’t there.
One other thing, and this is a common complaint that I’ve heard.A� The movie is a bit long.A� I get that they both want to tell the whole story and also want to give people their money’s worth as movie ticket prices creep up to 15 dollars and higher in some cities.A� However, not everything that was in the movie needed to be there, in my opinion.A� A few scenes went on for too long and the entire sequence on the casino planet contributed almost nothing to the movie.A� My cousin made the point that it will probably be more prominently featured in the next movie, which would make sense.A� Otherwise, I have no idea why it was there.
Finally, and this might just be me.A� Speaking of the casino planet, what the hell was up with that ending?A� It felt like more of an epilogue than a “to be continued”.A� I didn’t need a literal “to be continued” ending like The Force Awakens, but I had no idea what that kid has to do with the overall story.A� Sure, he’s force sensitive, but we already knew that there were other force sensitive people out there.A� Sure, he was one of the slaves that tasted a bit of freedom thanks to the rebels, but….oh.A� Never mind.A� I said earlier that this movie is serving as a bridge from old to new, but that bridge might be branching.A� Daisy Ridley has already said that she doesn’t know if she’s going to be back after Episode IX, so yeah.A� It makes sense.A� Keep your options open.A� Very shrewd, Disney.
I’ve complained about the movie a bit.A� I’ve also hinted that I found some hate on the internet about the movie.A� Again, that isn’t news.A� Search long enough and you will find someone on the internet that hates whatever you like.A� Also, I’ve made the joke a few times that only true Star Wars fans hate Star Wars.A� I mean, these are the people who pushed the creator of the mythos, their God, out of the picture.
But, and I said this before, this hate felt different.A� There is a new malevolence out there.A� Maybe it’s an old malevolence that has bubbled to the surface.A� I’m not going to be reductive and blame it all on politics, but the climate has certainly made it more comfortable for these people to exist and let it be known that they exist.A� It started a bit with The Force Awakens when people got upset that there was a black Stormtrooper and it has been ever present in the Marvel fandom ever since Marvel tried to reinvent some of its heroes.A� Yes, in the case of the Marvel trolls, there are elements of racism and sexism that are troubling.
On that note, I’ve since heard that a group of internet trolls (some have said that they’re associated with the “alt right”, but I think that’s just a recent boogeyman catch all term to frighten people) that have made it their mission to make sure that these movies fail.A� I laughed out loud when I heard that.A� As I said to Chris, these guys might be able to pressure Marvel comics because the profit margin and margin for error are so low, but Star Wars doesn’t care if you’re mad.A� It will make a billion dollars with or without you.A� That theory has proven to be true as the movie just recently passed a billion dollars in about two weeks and I think I saw that it was the highest grossing movie of 2017 in only two weeks.
Still, like I said earlier, this kind of thing wears on you.A� Instead of simply being able to enjoy what you enjoy for reasons that you enjoy it, you are constantly being berated by those who don’t like it and feel that it is their mission to either get you to hate it too or simply argue with you for no reason other than to get you mad.A� They will stoop to racist, sexist, or just downright rude comments for no other reason that it will get a rise.A� They claim that they are fighting for free speech, but they’re simply fighting for their right to be jerks.A� It’s internet trolling taken to the extreme and I refuse to participate anymore.
I loved this movie.A� Whenever anyone asks and I don’t think about it before answering, that’s my answer.A� It is not a perfect movie.A� It is not even a perfect Star Wars movie.A� It is probably my second favorite of them all behind Empire Strikes Back.A� As my friend said, everyone liked Empire best and he’s mostly right.A� But, this one did exactly what it needed to, was a ton of fun to watch, and has left me just as excited to see Episode IX as I was to see this one after The Force Awakens.A� If you haven’t seen it, see it.A� If you have, see it again.
(Editor’s Note: A�I won’t even bother to translate the title. A�It’s just another lame Dad joke that is becoming an unfortunate legacy of the page. )
I’ve been waiting for this movie since I saw the first one. A�Sure, Avengers, Dr. Strange, and Civil War are all cool, but my favorite book as a teenager was Guardians of the Galaxy. A�Unlike many of these endeavors, I also liked the reboot and introduction of new characters. A�Honestly, though, I was surprised that they made one movie for the Guardians. A�The book wasn’t exactly an A-list title. A�Moreover, not only have they made one film, but the sequel just released last week and before that one even came out, they announced a third. A�My obscure comic fan boy heart is bursting with joy.
This one became a family event. A�From the trailer, I knew it might be a bit dicey for the kids. A�Unlike Deadpool, though, they marketed this one right at their younger audience. Like I said to Chris, I don’t think our 6 year old is the intended demographic. A�But, you put a talking racoon and a baby tree creature in your movie and you get 6 year olds. A�So, I went the day before to scout and make sure that it wasn’t too inappropriate.
Maybe I’m too lenient, but it passed my filter. A�Sure, there is some language that obviously scarred little Groot. A�The movie also has some “mature themes”, as Aiden calls them. A�He claims that he only knows what they are because he saw them on the video game label for Skyrim. A�However, I don’t know what “mature themes” there are in that game, so he might be trying to buffalo me. A�Either way, now that you know the potentially controversial topics, you can make your own decision. A�The movie is PG-13 after all. A�Now, on to the review!
At the risk of falling into too much of a pattern, I’m going to give this movie the same praise that I gave Power Rangers. A�The best thing I can say about it is that it is Guardians of the Galaxy. A�It takes what was great about the first one and improves almost all of it. A�I said to Chris that the first Avengers movie was still the gold standard of Marvel movies, but this one might be my new favorite. A�He remarked that Marvel movies often fall off from the original to the sequel. A�I replied that certainly was not the case with this movie.
This movie is funny. A�My cousin complained that they seemed to reach too hard for laughs. A�The first time that I watched it, I actually thought something similar. A�It was way over the top at times. A�Not necessarily that they reached, A�but that the movie was much funnier than the first. A�During my conversation with Chris, I said it felt like Marvel learned their lesson from handcuffing Joss Whedon in Avengers 2 and now let their directors just do their thing once they’ve proven themselves. A�So, while some might think he went overboard, I feel like it is in keeping with the absurdity of the characters.
Speaking of characters, in between the required humor and explosions there is an absurd amount of drama and character development. A�I remember when Ang Lee tried to bring the “feel of comics” to The Hulk movie–with decidedly mixed results and reviews–but this movie plays very much like the comics that I knew and loved back when comics weren’t so damn expensive. A�As an aside, though, I was attempting to sort my comics and it made me want to start collecting again. A�I might just have to troll eBay or Craigslist for cheap lots.
Now, back to the review. A�There is just so much good about this movie. A�If you are a fan, you will enjoy yourself. A�If you’re only watching because Marvel makes you watch movies like they make you buy comics during their mega crossover events, then it will be entertaining. A�I question if it is particularly informative in the context of Infinity War (which is strange since the Guardians are supposed to play a pivotal role), but at least you will know who these characters are if that rumor comes true. A�If you’ve already see the movie, go see it again. A�Trust me, it’s just as good the second time. A�Heck, I might even go see it one more time in the theaters because I enjoyed it so much.
This movie is not technically kid friendly. A�I already mentioned the swearing. A�Personally, I don’t much care about swearing because they’ve heard worse at home. A�Regarding the “mature themes”, the older boys are getting to the age when they will learn those things sooner rather than later. A�I mean, no questions resulted, so I get the feeling that one already knows and the other had them go right over his head. A�I know for a fact that the 6 year old missed them completely. A�He only cared about the parts with Baby Groot.
So, it’s a bit dicey. A�Especially if you are stricter about those topics than I am. A�It isn’t excessive, though, and you just have to make your own decision. A�I mean, you could always do what I did and watch it yourself to see if it is something that you can tolerate and handle. A�Don’t let that stopA�you from seeing the movie, though. A�Find a sitter and take the wife. A�Or, if your wife is lame like mine, leave the kids with her and see it yourself or with friends.
Unlike Power Rangers, Marvel has had over a decade to find and walk that line between audiences for their movies. A�Plus, as I already mentioned, they have movies planned through at least 2019 and a third Guardians movie already announced. A�So, there’s no chance of one and done like I feared for Power Rangers.
But, I sort of painted myself into a corner with this new review format and now I’m stuck. A�I have to come up with an “ugly” section or risk exposing myself as a fraud. A�I guess the only ugly thing that I have to say about the movie is that I have to wait for the next one. A�Sure, we have Avengers, some great DC movies, and at least one Star Wars in the interim, but they’re not Guardians of the Galaxy. A�After this movie not only met, but vastly exceeded my expectations, I’m going to be through the roof for the third one.
This movie is awesome. A�Go see it. A�If you’ve already seen it. A�See it again. A�If you can’t wait for the third, watch the first one and then this one because 1+2=3. A�I’m out of words to express just how much I love this movie.
(Editor’s Note: A�TLDR: A�While not a perfect movie, or even a perfect representation of the franchise, this is a good movie and you should go support it so that they make more! I gotta have more Rangers!)
As I’m sure it is in many houses with boys, ours is a Power Rangers house. A�I don’t remember–and I don’t think–that Liam was a super fan. A�Aiden, on the other hand, loved the show from the first episode he watched. A�And Quinn is a super fan. A�He has watched parts of every season and will periodically rewatch parts of his favorite. A�He wore a Red Ranger costume around for the better part of a month a couple of years ago. A�He even wanted to wear the thing to go see the movie a few weeks ago.
That, of course, is why I’m writing the article. A�Christine mentioned that she wanted to take her dad to see the new Beauty and the Beast. A�As if by chance (and I”m realizing that there may not be any such thing as chance), I saw a trailer for the Power Rangers movie. A�It just made sense. A�She and her father can go to Beauty and the Beast and we go to see Power Rangers. A�With the plan hatched, all we had to do was bide our time.
The boys spent their time watching and rewatching old episodes on Netflix. A�I got into the fun because Twitch did a marathon leading up to the release of the movie. A�I also essentially put the trailer on a loop to hype myself even more. A�Hey, I’ll be the first to admit. A�I was excited to take the boys to see the movie, but I even said to Christine, “I think that this movie is just as much for me as it is for them. A�Maybe more.” A�I may be many things, but I’m not afraid to admit that I have never grown up. A�Have never and most likely will never.
The funny part about it is that I did not grow up watching Power Rangers like I did with some of my other childhood obsessions that have come back. A�I was a teenager when the first season released here in the states. A�I think that one of my brothers really liked the show and that might be how I got into it even though I wasn’t the primary demographic. A�Well, that and I had a crush on the pink ranger.
So, that’s how we ended up at the movie. A�The question begs, “Is it any good?” A�Well, that’s complicated. A�I know what you’re thinking. A�This is the guy who says he loves everything A�If he isn’t saying that it is unequivocally good, that’s a bad sign. A�Plus, it hasn’t exactly gotten the best reviews. A�Why should I see this movie?
Woah, woah, woah. A�Slow down there. A�First, yes i do like and can find the positive in almost anything. A�Also, I did not breathlessly state how great the movie is and that you should rush out and see it immediately. A�It is great and you should see it. Maybe not immediately, but soon and definitely in the theater. A�However, in an attempt to be taken more seriously as a critic and be more well balanced, I present a new format for reviews. A�While I will look and sound like a hypocrite and fraud after blasting Blizzard for doing this in many of my articles, I’m still going to call it “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. A�It’s a format I used when I was writing for my Steelers web page many years ago. A�In spite of the possible repercussions, it was a good gag then and I think it will translate now.
The Good (Always start with the good to soften the bad)
The highest praise that I can give this movie is that it’s Power Rangers. A�I mean, it’s not classic Power Rangers, but I understand that they couldn’t take the cheesy effects and bad acting, slap some shiny power armor on it, and charge upwards of 15-20 bucks per ticket. A�So, if you’re expecting the putty noise or Bulk and Skull shenanigans, you’re going to be disappointed. A�On a quick side not, I was disappointed that Bulk and Skull didn’t at least get a small part in the movie.
Other than that, though, this is Power Rangers. A�There is comedy that made both me and the boys laugh out loud more than once. A�There is legitimate drama. A�Of course, there’s action an dfight scenes. A�I’ve seen one or two complaints of not enough Power Rangers in this Power Rangers movie. A�That’s always the potential risk in origin stories like this. A�And, make no mistake, this movie introduces the characters. A�They are based on the originals, but they mostly have new stories to be told. A�Heck, there’s even Rita, Goldar, Zordon, and Alpha 5. A�It’s Power Rangers.
The criticism that I’ve heard most often and the one that I agree with the most is that the movie struggles to find its audience. A�It is only natural that a franchise that has been around for so long and has fans from 5 to at least 41 ifi you consider only our family demographics), you need to thread the needle a bit to try to give everyone what they want. A�In that regard, the movie suffers a bit from trying to do it all and almost doing nothing instead. A�Almost. A�There are a few sour notes, but overall, Power Rangers walks the tight rope successfully. A�Yay, mixed metaphor!
In addition, these comic book movies have a certain feel to them. A�Ever since Sam Raimi helped to revive the genre with Spider-Man all those years ago and Christopher Nolan Batman movies added their momentum, comic book movie have been HUGE! A�Some live up and add to the hype (re: Avengers/Infinity story). A�Others stall a bit and don’t quite reach their potential (re: A�Batman vs. Superman). A�More still have been determined not to be able to sustain a movie franchise and instead are TV shows (Flash, Luke Cage, etc.) and a few have fizzled completely. A�It is my hope that the fans of Power Rangers will be able to buoy the franchise against the tide of criticism enough to allow it to find that sweet spot that this movie only just missed.
I genuinely liked this movie, so this section most likely won’t be very long. A�But, I do want to expand a bit on that last point. A�Making movies, like sports, has become such a big business that there is little room for failure. A�This attitude pervades much of our society, but especially where there is money involved. A�Teams, studios, and fans can be brutal when assessing what is success. A�Sports fans, especially, are quick to define anything less than a championship as utter failure.
As I say, Power Rangers is being met with mixed reactions. A�I was actually surprised to see that the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low. A�Now, I’m not one to be swayed by critics, but perhaps borderline new fans might be. A�I just hope that not too many are turned off by the perceived negative reviews and give the movie a chance. A�It had a decent opening, so all of this worry may be for nothing. A�Then again, it has stalled some, so…*fingers crossed*
Also, and this gives me more hope (hey, start with the good and leave with good), this might be the type of movie that gains a following on DVD/Blu Ray/Streaming. A�Those on the fence might just wait until then because it is less of an investment and find that they disagree with the critics, love the film, and go see the second one in the theaters. A�Because I definitely want more. A�If they don’t happen, though, I’m glad to have had this one to share with my kids.
(Editor’s Note: A�This was supposed to be a review of Logan. A�However, as is becoming an all too familiar theme in my life, being an adult stinks. A�So, instead of using my break to do things I wanted to do, I spent it doing things I have to do.)
All things considered, I suppose that I should consider myself lucky that I had 99% of this vacation to do with as I please. A�I used it to rearrange my new Magic cards. A�I applied my time and energy to make 2 Generations gaming into a functioning entity again. A�My wife and I even got to have a date night.
Still, I’m a bit bummed to realize that today is already Sunday and I was not able to see Logan or join a Modern Masters draft. A�Truth be told (and why would I lie?), I’m actually more upset about the draft. A�I mean, I’ve had a week or so to hype myself about Logan. A�However, talking to Chris, taking out my cards, and remembering the fun times I had with previous drafts on xMage have me wanting to try the real thing. A�Then again, and this might just be me out of practice, I tried a draft on xMage for this set and it did not feel like a good draft set to me. A�Maybe it is better as sealed. A�Maybe it is just a “draft a bomb and profit” set. A�Who knows? A�All I know is that I was having a difficult time finding the synergies in the cards. A�Perhaps more testing is needed.
But, this article isn’t about Magic. A�I know that it won’t be the latest and greatest, but perhaps I can revisit this in May when we do our show on Magic. A�Now, I want to talk about Dr. Strange. A�Naturally, this may lead to side conversations about other movies this year. A�However, as this seems to be the year of DC with regards to movies, I will most likely be able to stay on target. A�Also, I really liked this movie.
I get the feeling that was not a common assessment. A�I have not heard overwhelming hate against it like I did Batman vs. Superman, but it was a quirky movie. A�As a kid, I always liked the lesser celebrated heroes. A�Sure, I collected Spidey and Hulk, but I also had Guardians, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange in my collection. A�This has followed me into adulthood in two ways. A�First, I’m infinitely more excited about those franchises coming out this year than Spidey. A�Some of that might be Spidey fatigue. A�The second aspect of my legacy of obscure super heroes lives on in Aiden. A�He loves Iron Fish and Flash is his absolute favorite book. A�But, there will be time to talk about that in November.
The movie hooked me with the casting of Sherlock heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch. A�One of my favorite actors playing one of my favorite characters? A�Sign me up! A�I never got to see it in the theater for the same reason that I wasn’t able to see Logan. A�Okay, that’s not entirely true. A�I could have taken the boys to see this one. A�Maybe it was just a lack of time and money that kept me from this one.
Whatever the case, I wish that I had seen this one on the big screen. A�It’s rare that I say that about a movie these days. A�With HD wide screen TVs and surround sound, the theater experience is relicated quite easily with only 1.50 from RedBox. A�But, the special effects are the best that I’ve seen from a Marvel movie. A�I never saw inception. A�I know. A�accuse me of yet another geek crime and bring me before the tribunal already. A�However, from what I’ve seen of the Inception trailer, the visual style of Dr. Strange is very similar. A�Maybe I will finally see the movie and strike one of my crimes from the record.
There was only one part where the effects took me out of the fantasy of the movie. A�When the ancient one takes Strange on his tour of the multiverse, some of the efffects looked wonky. A�But, it was brief and the rest of the movie was so entertaining that I put the minor glitch behind me.
That was the other thing that stood out to me about Dr. Strange. A�It was funny. A�I mentioned Batman vs. Superman earlier A�and the hate that it received. A�I didn’t agree with much of it, but DC is definitely missing the point by making their movies so dark. A�They got too much into the *Batman voice* “dark and gritty realism” that they forgot how much fun these stories can be. A�Like all of the Marvel movies, Dr. Strange made me chuckle several times and laugh out loud more than once. A�I have always been a Marvel zombie, but that added humor is why I prefer the Marvel movies to DC. A�They have gotten better. A�Aiden has been watching the Flash TV show. A�Between that and some of the trailers that I’ve seen, DC is slowly bringing more humor into their franchises. A�One big complaint about Batman vs. Superman was Batfleck, but perhaps his introduction into the universe will end up being a net positive. A�We shall see.
Before you think this is universal praise, there was one aspect of the movie that worried me and it wasn’t necessarily a fault of the movie. A�How’s that for some double speak? A�Comic book audiences have been trained for the big action and explosions. A�I know that Dr. Strange exists in that world, but he’s not so much about the punchy/kicky as he is about the hocus pocus. A�Would people think the movie is boring? A�Again, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was very entertained by the action present. A�There was plenty of punchy/kicky in the form of martial arts and there was even some explosions during the finale.
Above all of this, though, my favorite part of the movie did not involve punchy/kicky. A�Instead, Dr. Strange used some major hocus/pocus to defeat Dormammu and save the world. A�For those of you even lamer than I am, I won’t give away any more than that, but it is definitely worth the wait and does the character justice. A�If you’re a fan of Dr. Strange, you won’t be disappointed.
This movie didn’t surpass the first Avengers as my favorite Marvel movie. A�I’m not even sure if it cracks the top 5. A�However, it is probably the most entertaining comic book movie I’ve watched in the past year. A�If you are in the mood for a good time with great effects and more or less faithful to the source material (if that’s your thing), then you definitely want to see this movie.
(Editor’s Note: A�Please keep arms and legs inside of the vehicle at all times. A�If you don’t, they very well might get eaten.)
We are releasing the first episode of “Little Kid Podcast” this week. A�Yes, finally, for sure. A�I promise! A�As I often do, I started talking about dinosaurs last week and I’m going to finish up with this post about the Jurassic World movie. A�We have spent many hours in an attempt to beat the game 100% and the movie made quite an impression on him. A�Even though he’s growing up, he’s still our paleontologist in training and some part of him always will be. A�Dammit. A�I always say that I’m not going to miss it when they’re young, but I’m starting to tear up a little thinking that he won’t always be little Mr. Dinosaur.
I found myself in charge of three boys over the summer. A�This is not out of the ordinary. A�However, one of them was not mine and I was alone for the night. A�I can’t remember where my wife was, but Aiden had a friend over for his birthday and we swapped Liam and him for the night. A�I promise that all of this is relevant to the point of this post.
First, we tried watching Jurassic World a few months before and made it to the part in the movie where (spoiler alert!) the Indominous Rex went nuts and killed a bunch of people. A�Liam, who is very sensitive to that sort of violence, freaked out a bit. A�Even though some of you might consider that an overreaction, I can sympathize. A�I couldn’t watch We Were Soldiers, don’t watch Game of Thrones, and stopped watching The Walking Dead (far in advance of the most recent episode that has people in a bunch) because of gratuitous violence. A�As I said to a friend, I can get good story lines without it. A�So, since Liam was at his friend’s house and Quinn is so obsessed with dinosaurs, I thought it might be cool to try to watch it again. A�Also, I was getting close to bed time and all three were getting a bit rambunctious, so it had the added bonus of hopefully calming them down. A�I’m happy to report success on both fronts. A�We made ith through the whole movie and all boys enjoyed it enough to go to bed without incident.
Okay, story time over, so I will give my review of the movie. A�I am a huge fan of the original Jurassic Park. A�I was careful not to say series there. A�I loved the first two books and the first movie. A�I watched the second movie on the strength of the first, but quit and never watched the third. A�By the time, news of the fourth one surfaced, I was checked out completely.
More recently, I read that the original plot of the 4th movie involved human/dinosaur hybrids. A�I don’t remember if we knew that information when the movie was first announced. A�Either way, I’m glad that they never made that movie and that they waited so long to give the idea some time to few new and fresh again. A�Go back to what people loved, play on their nostalgia, and hook a new generation through their kids. A�It worked for Rocky and Star Wars.
Because, let’s be real. A�Each of these sequels is actually the original movie remade in every case. A�Sure, they changed some details to keep those of us who already saw it interested, but the overall plots are identical. A�Mind you, I’m not saying that the movies are bad. A�I saw all three of them and thought they were all entertaining. A�However, I’d be lying to say that I missed the obvious similarities. A�So, why spend time watching a movie you’ve already seen? A�While I am the type that doesn’t mind repeated viewings, I understand that some of you aren’t as forgiving. A�So, I will try to give you some incentive to see an old remake of a way older movie.
Is it too obvious to say that it is a good movie? A�It’s probably too obvious to say that it is a good movie. A� Of course you think it is a good movie, you reply. A�Why else would you be recommending it? A�Okay, I get your point. A�That being said, it is a good movie. A�I will stop being lazy and get more specific in my praise.
New Dinosaur – Though the name is pretty stupid and the prototype human/dinosaur hybrid with a bazooka in his chest is beyond ridiculous, the rest of the Indominous Rex story line was well executed. A�They used the time honored monster movie trope of not showing the monster right away. A�They did it right, with just enough time for the big reveal that made it satisfying. A�Plus, the kids love the dang thing so much they wanted to pool their money to buy the Lego set with the Indominous in it.
Raptors – I don’t remember when the velociraptors became the unoffical face of the franchise. A�I do know that the T-Rex was in the logo for the first one and Spinosaurus in the 3rd one (I know that from the Lego video game), then Indominous for the new one. A�But, the raptors have absolutely stolen the show and they are the reason that people keep coming back. A�I think it is because they show the most intelligence and people think of them as scaly carnivorous puppies.
Owen – I, like most people, have loved this guy since he was the goofball on Parks and Recreation. A�Then, he went and took one of my favorite comic book characters from my youth and gave him the utmost respect in Guardians of the Galaxy. A�Now, he is the lovable raptor trainer in Jurassic World. A�This guy is just having so much fun playing pretend and dress up and one of the few actors I know who could upstage the raptors as the main attraction in his scenes.
A bit violent – I’ve already covered Liam’s meltdown during the Indominous attack scene. A�Other than that, there is dinosaur on dinosaur violence, other dinosaur on human violence, and just a much more bloody movie than I remember the first two being. A�I’m not sure if that is just a reflection of the society or a conscious effort to ramp up the gore for some reason. A�Just be warned if you are concerned about that sort of thing.
Other characters – Other than Owen, the characters in the movie are either boring, one dimensional, or both. A�They certainly don’t have the same personalities as the first film. A�Look, I know that they’re selling CGI dinosaurs, but would it have killed them to flesh out the characters just a bit more. A�Who knows? A�Maybe they expected this one to flop and they could kill the franchise once and for all. A�Not likely, but stranger things have happened. A�I guess we’ll find out if the next one comes out and we are still “treated” to cardboard cutouts instead of living, breathing human beings.
Even with the drawbacks, which are minimal when compared to other movies and TV shows out there, the movie is a good one. A�I’ve watched it twice. A�It inspired us to play the Lego video game and buy a couple of the Lego sets to play together. A�If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a watch before exposing to younger or more sensitive kids. A�If you determine that it is acceptable, enjoy the ride!
(Editor’s Note: A�We have no idea if we are officially out of spoiler range for the new Star Wars movie. A�To be perfectly honest, we don’t care all that much about spoilers here. A�We are of the opinion that if you can’t enjoy entertainment that’s been spoiled, then perhaps it wasn’t all that entertaining. A�Besides, the movie has been out for more than a month now. A�If you haven’t seen it by now and care at all about spoilers, then you get what you deserve. A�With all of that being said, if you continue to read from this point forward, there are major spoilers to the movie.)
Kylo Ren, real name Ben (most likely named by his Uncle Luke Skywalker in honor of Obi Wan Kenobi) Solo (because he is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa) kills his father in an attempt to complete his transformation to the Dark Side. A�I warned you. A�Enjoy the following funny SNL bit as a peace offering. A�Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can talk about the rest of the movie. A�Don’t worry, we’ll come back to Han and his angry, angry son later.
I already gave my first impressions of the movie right after we saw it. A�If you read that article, you know that I enjoyed it very much. A�Half of it was nostalgia, half of it was watching it through the eyes of my own children, and the most important third half of it was being able to introduce this universe to my father in law. A�I’ve since had some time to ponder the movie more. A�You probably think that means that the glow has since faded and that I’m now going to write about how the movie is not as good as I first thought. A�Well, you’re partially right. A�As time passes, the glow naturally fades and it might sound like I’m bashing the movie, but I’m not. A�The internet has just created this environment in which you can’t criticize anything without being a hater. A�Know, then, that I still enjoy this movie, want to see it again and thank it for saving the franchise from the better taste of the prequels. A�And, I’m one of the few who kind of enjoyed Episodes I-III. A�Imagine the people who thought the movies were the cinematic equivalent of being warmed inside of a Tauntaun and how relieved they are that a good Star Wars movie was made before they died.
Or, should I say, remade. A�How’s that for a segue into my first criticism? A�As with all of them, it is a minor complaint and one that can be easily explained. A�Nevertheless, I should discuss the good and the bad. A�Maybe I should take a bad news/good news approach to the article. A�Seems like the best way to write it. A�That way I can avoid the inevitable internet accusation of drinking the haterade. A�Besides, honestly, no matter how much I complain, I did enjoy the movie very much.
Still, always bad news first. A�From the opening scent of the movie, when the giant star destroyer flew across the screen, I felt that there was something familiar about this movie. A�It’s not just because they decided to bring everyone back, either. A�We all knew that was going to happen. A�Also, I’m not the only one who thought this. A�I’ve spoken to several friends who had the same reaction. A�Okay, enough rationalizing, let’s look at the evidence.
The aforementioned star destroyed sets the stage for nostalgia. A�I thought, “Wow, that’s just like the beginning of Episode IV.”
A cute droid carries information that is vital to the good guys.
A black masked and cloaked villain with an altered voice. A�This one is explained in the movie through storytelling, but still suspect at first. A�Kylo Ren idolizes his grandfather and wants to be just like Darth Vader, so there’s your explanation.
An unspectacular protagonist from a desert planet ends up being extremely important to the fate of the galaxy.
There is some mystery regarding this protagonist’s life story.
This progtagonist becomes the protege of a former scoundrel turned wiser old man who clearly knows more than he’s saying.
The past catches up to the old man on several occasions forcing him to reconcile with that past. A�He still does not reveal the whole truth, however.
There is a power struggle for the second in command of the dark side army.
The good guys have a critical meeting inside of a cantina on a planet in the far reaches of the galaxy. A�At least this cantina is not on the same planet that the protagonist lives.
This group, known as the New Order, have built a planet sized space vessel capable of destroying planets.
The good guys are a rag tag bunch that happens to have some of the best pilots. A�They destroy the so called “Starkiller” by finding and exploiting it’s single weakness against impossible odds.
The wise old guru is murdered by someone close to him in front of his friends who are all powerless to help him.
The protagonist and antagonist fight to a stand still as the battle to destroy “Starkiller” rages around them, concluding as the vessel begins to tear itself apart.
The protagonist finds a wise old Jedi master on a remote planet surrounded by water. A�Okay, so this one is more Episode V, but movies are also slightly longer on average than in the late 1970s/early 1980s.
In case all of that wasn’t obvious enough, my main complaint is that the movie is nearly an exact retelling of Episode IV. A�Okay, now for the excuse making. A�I will rebrand it as the good news after the bad news. A�First, they had to reintroduce the series for several reasons. A�One, I mentioned that I mostly enjoyed the prequels. A�Many others, to put it mildly, did not. A�In less sugar coated terms, most, by a wide margin, fans hated it with the fire of a thousand Starkiller beams. A�There is so much more for nerds in pop culture these days that fans might have abandoned Star Wars altogether for Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, or any one of the Marvel series on TV or Netflix. A�What better way to get fans back into it than by going back to where it all started and reboot the story as well as support.
Two, those of us who have been there all along are getting old. A�It is harder to get us to buy the tie in merchandise, other than the video games. A�If those old farts are anything like me, they brought family and friends to the movie. A�My kids have already seen the original movies, but my other guest hadn’t. A�Perhaps by introducing them with a proper introduction, they are more likely to get hooked and revisit those first movies. A�Even if they don’t, they’re in now. A�They finally have a Star Wars that they can call their own. A�See, it’s a legitimate complaint, but one that makes sense if you just think about it.
Back to bad news. A�I talked about the final battle in the list of similarities A�Kylo Ren battles against Rey (the lead protagonist mentioned in that same list) after fighting against Finn (who I haven’t even mentioned yet and it’s not because I’m racist, which is exactly what a racist would say. A�Damn. A�Moving on.) and mortally wounding or killing him. A�After having just watched the movie, I discussed it with my cousin. A�I brought up that I felt it a little strange, and even a little convenient, that someone who had studied as a Jedi and then in the dark side for who knows how long lost to a woman who only hours earlier picked up a light saber for the first time. A�True, there is some ambiguity surrounding Rey’s history and parentage, but I still made the point to him. A�He replied, “Well, Kylo was shot in the side.” which is a plot development that I had overlooked in my excitement. A�That is actually a great explanation, Skywalker spawn or not. A�There are other inconsistencies like that, but that one bothered me the most.
Even so (good news), the inconsistencies aren’t as glaring as the original trilogy that could have been explained by the prequels, but were actually made worse in many cases. A�Add in the silly tinkering that he did when rereleasing the original movies and those things are an absolute mess now.
Other than those two minor complaints–that can honestly be made about any movies and especially sequels that have made it to the 7th movie, I enjoyed it and cannot wait for the next one. A�As soon as we left the theater and sat in the restaurant waiting for our pizza, I searched on the tablet to find the release date for Episode VIII. A�I was genuinely upset that we would have to wait another year and a half (now moved to two years) for the movie to be released. A�In our video on demand, binge-watching society, that is an eternity. A�Hopefully spoilers start showing up soon and I can at least find out if my theories are correct.
Until then, I suppose I still have some Clone Wars to watch. A�There is also the new series Rebels and I have to show my father in law the first six movies. A�There is the machete order to try there. A�Maybe I will see this one again. A�There is plenty of Star Wars fun to keep me busy until Christmas 2017.
Good news? A�There’s less than 700 days as I write this.
Bad news? A�There’s almost 700 days as I write this.
(Editor’s Note: A�Spoiler Alert! A�This movie was awesome!)
My history with Star Wars is well documented. Perhaps not on this page, but all it takes is a single inquiry or comment and I will tell you all about it. A�What’s that? A�You want to hear all about it? A�Perhaps another time. A�Let’s just say that I am of a certain age and temperament that lends itself to minor obsession with the films. A�I’m not a costume guy, but I did attend a midnight showing of Episode III and I made Christine come with me to watch at least Episode IV when it was re-released into the theaters. A�She’s still “on the fence”, but I think she hates the movies and merely tolerates them like I do country music. A�You have to make sacrifices for the ones you love.
Since the boys have been born, much of my Star Wars experience has been of the Lego variety. A�They’ve seen some of the actual movies, but we’ve spared them the more intense Episode III and I despise everything about Episode II, so they might not have seen that one, either. A�News of Episode VII had me excited, then apprehensive because Disney and JJ Abrams (ugh), and finally back to a fevered pitch of fan boy enthusiasm that culminated in ordering tickets for the official premiere date for me, Liam, Aiden, and my father-in-law.
I wasn’t sure how to structure this article, but I had a flash of inspiration and I”m going to go with a running journal starting on Thursday afternoon. A�That’s when the excitement really started to ramp up to nearly mythical levels.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
4:45 pm: A�While at tutoring, I got a text from my wife that read, “Dinner at my Moms at 5:30 pm.” A�Okay, cool, no problem. A�While dinner at her mother’s might not seem all that interesting or relevant to a story about Star Wars, I assure you it has a place. A�Stay tuned.
6:30 pm: A�Dinner was ham and au gratin potatoes. A�it was delicious and, you are right, has nothing to do with Star Wars. A�You just have to appreciate the little things in life.
Side note: A�I have not been as excited about the movie as expected. A�Maybe the grind of the end of the semester interfered. A�Perhaps, because we don’t have cable, I have been able to avoid the incessant advertising.
Yes, in case you don’t know, we are the annoying family without cable that uses that trait as one of our identifying characteristics. A�I found myself saying, “We don’t even have TV at home. A�Why are you arguing over TV?” to my 5 year old.
Well, after dinner, the hype machine finally got me. A�A commercial came on for Dodge (or ram or are they the same thing? A�Who cares, right?) with Star wars music in the background and I made a comment about buying the truck just because they put Star Wars on it. A�My father in law replied with, “They’ve been putting Star Wars on everything.” A�Sure enough, the next commercial was a tie-in, too. A�I have to admit that I got a kick out of that one, though.
6:49 pm: A�After the commercial, I said, “Okay, that one was funny.” and my wife rolled her eyes. A�She had already been making side comments through and after dinner and I just had to ask her to stop. A�I don’t usually get defensive about my nerd love, but Star Wars is different. A�As I explained to her, I’ve been watching these movies since I was a kid and now I’m taking my own kids to see them. A�When she first said, “I love you.” A�I replied with, “I know.” A�I’m not a super Star Wars fan, but buried deep down, I am.
6:50 pm: A�To assuage my hurt feelings and pump the gas (or tug the steam whistle, but that sounds weird) of the hype train a little, I watch the trailer again. A�Now that I’m more familiar with the new characters, watching it gives me the ASMR something fierce. A�I watch it five times. A�Aiden joins me for one of the viewings.
7:15-10:30 pm: A�The hype is somewhat diminished by having to write a final. A�Tests are the absolute worst part of my job (I know #firstworldproblems) but they are a necessary evil.
10:30 pm: A�Speaking of necessary evil…Watching one of my favorite streamers on Twitch and someone comes with the chat with, “Just got home from Star Wars.” A�Immediately he is hit with the “No spoilers in this chat!!” by several users and a couple even ask for an unconditional ban “just in case”. A�Look, I get it….sort of. A�Your lives are so devoid of suspense and surprise that you live vicariously through movies and television. A�But, serious, the “No spoilers!” gestapo has gotten out of hand. A�The guy is simply trying to start a conversation about something he enjoyed and assumes that you enjoy as well. A�I, and one other, responded with, “Is it any good?” A�He said that he really enjoyed it and listed off the reasons without giving away any major plot points.
10:45 pm: A�Shortly after, my cousin contacted me to compare notes. A�I told him that I had yet to see it and we also went on to discuss the movie without giving anything away. A�We talked at length, too, about a variety of subjects. A�We expressed a desire to see the movie more than once. A�He assured me that JJ Abrams did a good job, which I was still a bit worried about. A�We both lamented that our wives showed no interest in the movie. A�Having already seen the movie, he was particularly dismayed that his wife wasn’t there. A�We moved onto female representation and it sounds like they are trying to appeal more to women with this series.
As an aside, my feeling is that this film is about leaving the past behind and reinventing Star Wars for the future. A�I know, that sounds weird. A�But, I contend that the disastrous prequels were meant to be for the hard core fans, but Uncle George overcompensated and we got what we got.
Oh well, maybe the boys and I can wear her down over vacation and get her to see it with us. A�It is really something that I want to share with her. A�After I see it, maybe I can find an angle.
12:15 am: A�I joked with my cousin that I might not even sleep because I was so excited. A�That became a lie as I crashed on the couch watching Twitch.
Friday, December 18, 2015
6:15 am: A�Alarm goes off and today is the day! A�All I have to do is give two finals, one tutoring session, and I will be on my way to the theater. A�I’m excited, but I also think that I might have a cold coming on.
11:15 am: A�One final given and the tutoring session done and I need to go get some medicine and do Christmas shopping at the mall. A�I’m not looking forward to this at all. A�Oh, hey, what’s that? A�It’s a pretty cool looking R2D2 shirt that I can wear to strengthen my nerd cred. A�The shirt and lunch at my favorite Greek place made the “have to do”s all worth it.
2:15 pm: A�Last final is done! A�I’m so excited that I’m going to go out to the van and take a nap! A�I know, I know, all of this build up to the big day, it’s almost time, and that’s my response. A�I’m pretty sure that this cold is actually the flu. A�So, I curl up in the van for a short winter’s nap.
3:00 pm: A�Nap over! A�Let’s do this. A�I drive to Amherst, find my father-in-law’s truck, and park near him. A�I meet them all in the theater, post to my Facebook (because it’s not official unless it’s on social media), grab the tickets, they get popcorn and soda, and then we go stand in line for the movie. A�The half an hour wait in the theater for the movie to start is excruciating and made all the worse by the cheesy pre-show advertisements that they show. A�By the end of it, I scream, “Let’s go already!” A�Not one to get faked out, I also say, “Is it actually starting?” when the Lucasfilm logo comes onto the screen. A�Thankfully for me and those in the immediate vicinity who were sick of my whining, it was actually starting. A�The theater went black, the title came up, the theme song started, and applause began.
7:30 pm: A�The opening wasn’t the only applause worthy moment. A�I’m pretty sure that Aiden even got the theater going a couple of times when some of his favorite characters came onto the screen. A�I gave the movie a standing ovation. A�It wasn’t perfect, which goes without saying, but it was a very good movie. A�They paid homage to the past in the right way and they are definitely moving the franchise forward at the same time. A�As with many fans, I was a little down on Star Wars after the prequels and then the Disney sale, but everything has worked out well so far. A�Even though I’m pretty sure I know how Episode VIII and IX will continue the story, I’m still unbelievably excited to see both of them. A�We still have a good year and a half, so I guess the only course of action is to go see this one a couple of more times.
If you’re a fan, you’ve already seen and drew your own conclusions. A�If you’re not a fan, this is actually the perfect movie to get into the series. A�After you’ve done that, go back and watch the originals. A�If you still love Star Wars after that, avoid the prequels altogether, except for maybe Episode III and Episode I if you can stomach it. A�As always, May the Force be with you.
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