Friday, May 29, 2015

Spirited Away

Well spring is coming to a close so let us review one last Miyazaki movie, Spirited Away.

Now a lot of people say this is Miyazaki's best work, and I can kinda understand why. So the story of this movie is about a young girl named Chihiro who is moving into a new town and through a shortcut to her new home, her and her family find a doorway that transports them to the spirit world. Her parents soon have a spell cast on them and they turn into pigs, forcing Chihiro to save their lives and her own and return back to her world. This is one of the most original and creative movies I have ever seen in my entire life, the story itself is strange and magnificent but has a simple message of growing up. Our main character Chihiro, starts out at the beginning of the movie as a spoiled, needy, and kinda annoying child, but she grows through the movie by being put through so much that by the end she has matured greatly. This is a coming of age movie, but it has such a unique spin on it that really, you don't even notice until the end. And everything you expect and love about Miyazaki's work is still present, the animation is fantastic, the music is pleasant, the characters are well done and very real, and the story has huge amounts of creativity. Now I haven't seen all of Miyazaki's or Studio Ghibli's work and I would love to, but for now I have only seen a few. But if you watch these movies and love them, try and watch more than I have and judge them for yourself. There's even a series of reviews that were released not that long ago on EVERY single Studio Ghibli movie from it's inception to now and I highly recommend it. If you're interested in seeing it I will leave instructions on how to see it at the end of this review. Watch this movie, it is strange, it's like nothing you have ever seen before but I'm sure you will love it as much as I do, and I hope you will pursue more movies like these in the future.

So that's it for this review and that is it for spring ladies and gentlemen! Tune in next month where we start summer movies and hopefully I can get you more recent movie reviews. Oh, I almost forgot if you want to see that series of reviews on the Studio Ghibli movies just search for Disneycember, and you will find several of these and I believe it's the fourth or fifth where Doug Walker covers the Japanese animated movies. I hope you enjoy the reviews as much as I did and I will see you all very soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Howl's Moving Castle

I'm back! Sorry about yesterday, had some things to clear up. But moving on to our next review, Howl's Moving Castle!

All the good points that I said about My Neighbor Totoro are even better in this movie. The voice acting, the animation, the real emotion you have with the characters, all that. So this story takes place in a world filled with magic and sorcery, where a young woman named Sophie has a curse put on her and she has to seek the help of a reclusive wizard to help her break the spell, and she falls in love with him and has to even save him from himself. The story is the greatest part of this movie, for several reasons. One big reason is just the world that our characters live in, like I said it's a world of magic and sorcery which means the movie can do so many creative things and do so much and it greatly succeeds! And the only real shame about it is, you want to know so much more about the world and you're only given glimpses of it. And that is not a bad thing. Now I know the movie is based off a book so it probably delves deeper into the world, so I can't complain much. Second is the characters, very much like in My Neighbor Totoro the characters act very real even though the film is set in a fantasy realm. They have conflict, they have backstory, they have wants and desires and the situations they are put in, although very mystical and impractical they treat it very real and very seriously. And I just love how everything is designed, not just the characters but everything! This animation far exceeds the animation of My Neighbor Totoro, the colors are bright and bountiful but can still be very dark when needed, every main setting has a distinct and beautiful look to it, even the run down castle in it's own way, everything is just so much bigger and deeper and more articulate than before. So if you thought the animation in My Neighbor Totoro was really damn good, you're going to be awestruck at the immense attention to detail and color in this movie. The characters are original, I mean I dare you to compare them to other characters because I can't. They are just so different from what you normally see in movies. The music is a beautiful composition by Joe Hisaishi, especially the main theme which is very much like a waltz, and it is emotional and beautiful music. You know how I said in my last review that Miyazaki's work is very difficult to explain? Well I think I figured out an accurate description for this movie: it's a movie where nothing is as you expect it. Because whenever you think of magic in movies, it's pretty simple compared to this movie in how it uses magic, it's unlike anything you have grown accustomed to. Howl's Moving Castle is a spectacular animated film, with tons of emotion in the story, and should really be given a chance even if fantasy and films with magic are not your thing. Give it a watch, and see it for yourself.

So tune in next time where we cap off spring with yet another Miyazaki classic.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Neighbor Totoro

If I had a dollar every time I either said 'Awww' or 'Cute' I would be filthy rich by the end of this movie.

Yes, this week I will be reviewing three films from the Steven Spielberg of anime, Hayao Miyazaki, first starting off with My Neighbor Totoro. This is probably the cutest and most wonderful anime I have ever seen. The story follows a family who has just moved into a new house and the two little girls encounter and befriend a group of forest spirits. It's kind of a hard film to explain, in fact a lot of Miyazaki's work is, you really just have to experience it for yourself. And that's the perfect word I would use to describe Miyazaki's work: An experience. You feel everything the characters feel in the movie, and the characters despite being animated feel absolutely real. This is how real little kids act, this is how real kids talk, this is how people react to certain situations both good and bad. I cannot praise the characters enough. Another thing I can praise forevermore is the animation. Sweet Christmas, this film is beautiful. The attention to detail is staggering, the atmosphere is rich, the backgrounds are deep, some of the shots in this movie I want framed on my wall! This is art. Japanese animators are unreal to the extent of making worlds, it is amazing how much depth and beautiful use of color they use to create the surroundings. The story, although very simple has a lot of power, it gives you a sense of wonder and happiness. The music could not be any better, in fact I am going to leave a link to the best song in the movie that really sums up the whole feeling of the movie. And...this film is absurdly cute. I cannot watch this movie and not gush into happy giggling and big smiles, the joy is infectious. Now the cast of this movie, especially the two little girls played by Dakota Fanning and her real sister Elle Fanning playing the two sisters is the heart of the movie, really I don't even think they were acting they were just being themselves and it works so well, it's very real and very natural as to how two sisters act together. The film, what can I say? It is a wonderful, heart warming family film that everybody should watch together. My Neighbor Totoro is truly enchanting, and I hope you find it to be so too.

 Huge Tree In Tsukamori-

Thursday, May 21, 2015

St. Vincent

Sorry I could only get you one review this week, but I am making up for it next week by reviewing three movies and I got almost all of June planned out. So here's St. Vincent.

You wouldn't think a movie about a crotchety old man who does hardly anything good through the whole movie would tug at your heartstrings near the end but it does. So St. Vincent is the story of a new kid Oliver, who has just moved in next door to his neighbor Vincent, and they start spending time together and the boy learns good life lessons, but through the wrong ways. For instance, he learns the bad and good side of risks and going for broke at the horse races. Now when I first heard about this movie I just thought it was going to be a funny movie with Bill Murray in it, but it surprisingly has a hell of a lot of heart! This is not a film you will forget, it is such a good movie and deals with real human problems and I do mean real. A mom just got divorced, is raising a child on her own, has to work late to get more money, the kid gets picked on by a few bully's, he learns to defend himself, as I stated he learns life lessons, Vincent's wife is going to be kicked out of the nursing home she lives in, Vincent has lots of debts to pay off, but the film does it sometimes with comedy. The humor is great, but it's real. The comedy for the most part is solely from the dialogue. The film has damn good emotional moments, both upliftingly happy and depressingly sad. Those are the movies that I love best, where you think it's just a simple movie but then you watch it and realize there is so much more to it than that, which makes it better. St. Vincent is a real gem of a movie, with great real characters, huge amounts of emotion and heart, and is funny to boot. Give it a watch, and judge for yourself.

So tune in next week where we cap off spring with some movies from a certain highly acclaimed Japanese director.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Last Crusade

Yes the final Indiana Jones and the best! Because that fourth one is terrible and you shouldn't watch it.

So this fantastic final chapter of the Indiana Jones trilogy centers around Indy and his companions including his father Henry Jones played by Sean Connery as they search to find the Holy Grail. What's not to like about this movie? It's got James Bond, Indy kicking Nazi ass again, and a huge quest to find the Cup of Christ, it's awesome! If you ask anybody which Indiana Jones movie is the best they will either say Raiders or Crusade but most will say Crusade, and I can't disagree. Our story starts with young Indiana Jones when he recovers an ancient cross from some bandits in the desert. Our story then flashes forward only one year after Raiders Of The Lost Ark when he hears news that his father is missing, so he travels to Venice to try and figure out where his father is. He soon meets up with his father's assistant Elsa who takes him to the library where he was last scene, and through a series of clues they discover not the whereabouts of his father but a crypt containing one of the Knights of the First Crusade. Engraved on the Knight's shield is a clue to find the Grail. Very soon after they meet a secret order that protects the Grail and discover his father has been taken by the Nazis and taken to Munich. So they get to Munich they rescue his father and now the chase is on to discover one of the greatest artifacts in human history. It's got lots of action, very good comedy, intriguing history of the Grail and is just good fun and has a fantastic ending. Go buy these movies. Watch them. Love them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Temple Of Doom

Yeah, this movie almost got an R rating because of how dark it was, and this was before PG-13 but it helped make that rating.

  So Temple Of Doom actually takes place one year before Raiders, so it's a sequel that's actually a prequel. Bizarre. So our story begins with Indy and his companions escaping a nightclub in Shanghai and eventually their plane crashes in India where they discover a village in immense turmoil. Their land is dying, their children have been stolen, and their sacred Sankara stones have been missing. So Indy and company travel to a previously deserted palace to investigate the theft of the sacred stone and the missing children and uncover a sinister cult who idolize an evil Hindu god. Now I'm shocked as to how many people I have met who say they don't like this movie, and it's mainly down to two reasons: his companions, Short Round and Willie. Now I can kinda understand why, Willie is a shrieking club singer who is swept up in this adventure and she is kind of annoying. She hates and is afraid of damn near everything and it can get really grating. And some people hate Short Round, I kinda like him. He's a fun kid who looks up to Indy as a father and really cares about him. I can't understand the hate toward this character. But if their were faults with the supporting companions, it is made up for by our villain Mola Ram played by Amrish Puri, this guy is a great villain. I can't even explain why but I can try, he's sinister, he is the head of the cult, he's played pretty damn well by the actor, and he just really works. I think this is a good Indiana Jones movie, and I hope that you agree. By all means, give this movie a shot it is worth it.

And that concludes my review of the second Indiana Jones movie, tune in tomorrow when we review the third and in many people's opinions including my own the best.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Well I figured we could look at the Indiana Jones trilogy this week, since we just finished the Star Wars saga last week and Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helped each other making both series so it really ties together well.

So how does the first Indiana Jones film hold up after over thirty years? Amazingly well. This is one of the greatest action-adventure movies of all time, and a classic to behold. So our story follows this particular adventure of famed archaeologist Indiana Jones played to perfection by Harrison Ford in pursuit of The Ark of The Covenant. We follow his travels from the university where he is a professor to the mountains of Nepal to retrieve a headpiece of the Staff of Ra to find the location of the Ark. There he meets an old flame of his, Marion played wonderfully by Karen Allen who becomes his partner in crime. They then travel to Cairo to meet with an old excavating friend of Indy's, Sallah played by John-Rhys Davies who is a joy to watch, soon they discover the location of the Ark and must protect it from the Nazis. A lot of the tropes and what you could consider cliches found in treasure hunting movies and epic action-adventure films were made popular by this movie, but it doesn't take absolutely anything away from it, it's still a spectacular movie that should be seen by all. I couldn't recommend this movie anymore, go out and watch it, you will love it. I think the best part of the entire movie besides the great cast and the unforgettable opening scene is the buildup to the Ark. You don't see it until near the end but hints are dropped as to how unearthly and truly dangerous this relic is. It legitimately makes me cautious as to our characters getting closer and closer to this artifact from wrath of God times. I'm sorry I didn't delve into it that much but I want there to be some mystery as to what happens in this film if you haven't seen it already. Wait until you see the end, you'll freak out a bit. So bottom line, watch Raiders Of The Lost Ark, I promise you that you will enjoy it greatly.

So tomorrow we will review the Indiana Jones movie that almost got an R rating and has a very split audience even to this day.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Revenge Of The Sith

Woohoo! Last movie of Star Wars week and what a way to end, to review the only good prequel movie! Now all I have to do is wait until December to review The Force Awakens.

Alright, there is a hell of a lot to cover in this movie so I will relay all the important details. The Clone Wars are finally coming to an end. The separatists have kidnapped the Chancellor and are holding him captive on their star ship, so Anakin and Obi-Wan who have become greater friends over the time between the last movie are sent to rescue him. They face off with Count Dooku for the last time and Anakin kills him by the order of the Chancellor. They return the Chancellor back to Coruscant and Anakin learns some very important news, Padme is pregnant. But soon Anakin is having terrible dreams about the death of his wife and promises her to save her by any means necessary. Afterwards Palpatine entrusts Anakin to be his representative on the Jedi Council, and the Council asks Anakin to spy on Palpatine, later Anakin attends an opera with Palpatine where he tells him of an old Sith legend about a Sith Lord who actually had the power to save people from death, Anakin asks if it is possible to learn this power, but the Chancellor tells him it cannot be learned from a Jedi. Meanwhile Obi-Wan has tracked down the general of the droid army to the planet of Utapau, where when he destroys the general the war will finally be over. Palpatine finally reveals to Anakin that he himself is a Sith Lord and can teach him how to save his wife, but Anakin warns the Council of Palpatine's deception and they send four Jedi masters to confront and arrest the Sith Lord. Anakin intervenes at the last second before Mace Windu kills Darth Sidious, slicing Windu's hand off and watching as Sidious kills him. He then pledges himself to Darth Sidious and gains his new title, Darth Vader and his first orders are to destroy the Jedi Temple and kill all the Jedi within it. Darth Sidious then deploys Order 66 which turns all of the clone troopers on their Jedi generals killing all of them. Master Yoda and Obi-Wan go to the temple and see the damage that has been done, and find Anakin to be the cause of all this destruction and death. Lord Vader then travels to the fiery lava world of Mustafar where he murders all of the separatist leaders, now with no opposition to his power Darth Sidious forms the first Galactic Empire, and deeming himself The Emperor of the galaxy. Obi-Wan confronts Padme of her husband's horrible deeds and tells her that he must kill him. Padme soon travels to Mustafar with Obi-Wan hiding on the ship. Padme confronts Anakin and sees how far he has truly fallen, he then chokes her almost to death but Obi-Wan soon stops him and they have a final duel on the planet. Meanwhile Master Yoda fights with Darth Sidious in the senate, Yoda failing to defeat The Emperor he forces himself into exile on the planet Dagobah. The powerful duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin continues on and on until Obi-Wan gains the upper hand and cuts Anakin's left arm and both legs off and sees him being burned alive on the gravel and ash filled land, taking Anakin's lightsaber before leaving with Padme. Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia, and Anakin Skywalker completes his transformation into Darth Vader when his mutilated body is given cybernetic limbs and his body is encased in a black suit of armor complete with life support. Darth Sidious removes the last bits of Vader's humanity by telling him that he killed his wife. The Jedi decide it to be best for the twins to be separated to keep them safe from the Empire. And the Empire begins construction of the first Death Star. This is without a doubt the best film of the prequel trilogy, mainly because it just gets back to the original trilogy at the end. The acting is fantastic, everyone does a great job bringing the darkest of the Star Wars movies to new heights. The action is the best of the entire prequel trilogy, the final fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan is a sight to behold with so much raw power and emotion going into the fight. The fall of the Jedi and the rise of the Sith is everything I wanted it to be and it does not disappoint in the slightest. Anakin's transformation in to the dark lord of the Sith, Darth Vader is the only reason the entire prequel trilogy was made, which makes you wonder why we even have the first and second movies other than to establish how the Republic fell and how the Empire began. If there is one single movie you should watch from the prequel trilogy it is hands down, Revenge Of The Sith. I cannot recommend it enough, don't watch the first two movies, watch episodes three through six and then join us all around Christmas to witness the continuation of the Star Wars saga.

Attack Of The Clones

Well this movie is slightly better than The Phantom Menace. But not by much.

So this installment of the Star Wars saga takes place ten years after The Phantom Menace, and surprisingly....not much has happened. Anakin has gotten older, he's still a Padawan. Obi-Wan is now almost a Jedi master. Padme is no longer a queen and yet everyone still calls her milady for some reason, and she hasn't aged at all she looks the same as she did from the last movie. The Republic has encountered a bit of a problem, a separatist organization has been created and now the Republic is almost on the verge of war. And the separatists have tried to assassinate Padme, so she has to be guarded by Obi-Wan and Anakin, whose relationship has certainly changed in the past ten years. They are good friends but they still have the master-apprentice relationship, which cause friction as Anakin is acting very self absorbed and feels like his master is holding him back. So they figure out a bounty hunter was sent to kill Padme so they have to split up, Obi-Wan starts his search for the mysterious bounty hunter, and Anakin has to protect Padme and return her to her home planet of Naboo. Soon Obi-Wan discovers who the bounty hunter is and travels to the world of Kamino where he also discovers that a clone army has been produced for the Republic from the DNA of the bounty hunter Jango Fett the father of Boba Fett. Meanwhile on Naboo a romance starts to blossom between Anakin and Padme and really I could care less. I know it's important to the characters and the story but really it's just tedious and boring. It reminds me of Bella and Edward's romance in Twilight, and that makes me sick to my stomach, but we will get to the Twilight movies in good time! So anyway, Obi-Wan tracks Jango to the planet of Geonosis and gets captured and has a brief chat with Count Dooku played masterfully by Christopher Lee who is the saving grace of this movie! Seriously, what is with these prequel movies and the only thing I truly love about them is the secondary Sith Lord? Speaking of Sith Lords, Count Dooku reveals to Obi-Wan that the senate of the Republic is under control of a Sith Lord by the name of Darth Sidious. Yes, yes, politicians are evil. Ha ha! Moving on...Anakin has horrible visions of his mother dying so he goes to Tatooine to try and find her, but finds it's too late and she dies in his arms. They soon receive a pre-recorded message form Obi-Wan telling them of the planet Geonosis, so they travel there to save him only to be captured themselves. Meanwhile in the senate, emergency powers are given to Chancellor Palpatine to use the clone army to fight the separatists. So they quickly rush over to Geonosis to capture their leaders and save our heroes. The battle is successful but Dooku gets away so our Jedi knights track him down and fight him. The fights in this movie are really good! Even though the duel with Dooku is short, it's still very good primarily for one reason, we get to see Yoda pull out his lightsaber and fight! Are you kidding me? And he's like lightning quick, he's doing all these flips and tricks, it's unbelievable! I'd say watch the movie just for that! But the fight doesn't go good for our heroes, Anakin gets his right arm cut off, him and Obi-Wan are nearly crushed by a pillar which Yoda stops but gives enough time for Dooku to escape the planet. So Anakin gets a robot arm and even secretly marries Padme even though they've known each other for a couple of days, maybe a week at best. Seriously, they meet up after ten years, travel to Naboo, hang out and build their horribly written romance for a few days, go to Tatooine and bury Anakin's mother and then go to Geonosis to help Obi-Wan and then they are sooo deeply in love they get married. Blah, blah blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. Just wake me up when we see Yoda fight.

Alright! We get to look at Revenge Of The Sith tomorrow! I love that movie. Can't wait!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Phantom Menace

You know...I used to like this movie as a kid. I thought it was a good Star Wars movie. Now...well let's talk about it, shall we?

I dreaded watching this movie. I haven't seen this movie in 10 years, I remember this movie well. I honestly don't know what to think about it, it's just okay. There's bad stuff in it, but there's also good stuff. Very few good stuff but good stuff nevertheless. So what's the story? Here we go....okay, so a Trade Federation has set up a blockade around the planet of Naboo and the senate of the Galactic Republic has sent two Jedi knights, Obi-Wan Kenobi played by Ewan McGregor , and Qui-Gon Jinn played by Liam Neeson, and they are sent to investigate. They soon uncover a plan that will take over the entire planet all because of, I have no idea. I don't think they give a reason that actually makes sense in this movie, I think because it has something to do with the Trade Federation and taxation, you know the stuff you REALLY want to hear in a Star Wars movie! But moving on. Okay so they meet up with Queen Amidala played by Natalie Portman and they get off the planet, but their ship gets damaged so they have to land on Tatooine to find new parts. They meet a slave by the name of Anakin Skywalker played by Jake Lloyd, who helps them get the parts they need and helps them fix the ship. The Jedi knights are astonished by how strong he is in the Force and believes he is part of a prophecy that tells of a Chosen One that will bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith. So they take him to the Jedi Temple on the planet Coruscant to begin his Jedi training, and then we briefly touch on the political side of Star Wars...yay. Honestly it's not that bad it's only one or two scenes, but you don't care. And I know the reason why they put it in the movie, to establish how the Republic turned into the Empire, but they delve more into that in the sequels. So the Queen says, Naboo's my planet and we are taking it back, so they head back over to Naboo to capture the leader of the Trade Federation and liberate the planet. This is really just the cliff notes version of the film, I'm sorry I just don't want to talk about it that much, I don't like it and I really don't want to rant that much either. So for the sake of this review, let's talk about the good things which aren't that many. This is really just kind of a forgettable Star Wars movie and that breaks my heart, but it's true. So here are the good points, the cast for the most part was chosen very wisely. Liam Neeson is a wise mentor to young Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor is a very, very good Obi-Wan. Ian McDiarmid is still great as always, but they don't give him much to work with sadly, Natalie Portman does a fairly good job as the Queen. Ray Park is a total bad ass as Darth Maul, and oh yeah I love Darth Maul in this movie! He's the saving grace in this dreary wreck, the final lightsaber duel is nothing like you have ever seen before in Star Wars and it is amazing! The fight choreography is superb, Ray Park gives a very impressive show of his stunt work talents, and it's just a great fight! The music by John Williams is still great, the special effects although over 15 years old look pretty damn good and still hold up surprisingly, but it's not all perfect. It's a mixed bag, I can only recommend it if you really are interested in the story taking place almost twenty years before the first Star Wars movie, and you just have more of an open mind than most other people. But if you don't, you're not missing much so you can skip it.

Tune in tomorrow when we talk about Attack Of The Clones, which I'm also not all too excited for.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Return Of The Jedi

Well, here it is. The last of the original Star Wars trilogy. After this we get to look at the prequels...yeah, not really looking forward to that for the most part, but anyway Return Of The Jedi!

So Return Of The Jedi is set a few months after the events of the last movie. The Empire has constructed a new Death Star much more powerful than the first, Luke has finished his Jedi training, and Han Solo is still trapped in carbonite. So first things first, Luke has to go rescue his friend from the clutches of the grotesque Jabba The Hutt on his home planet Tatooine. Now a few things to cover before we carry on with the story, now in past movies we keep hearing about this Jabba The Hutt and that he's bad news, but they don't really tell you what he looks like so you're mind is thinking of all kinds of things of how he looks and he's pretty gross basically a giant slug. Just, eck! Second, Luke Skywalker is a Jedi now. He is so different from when we saw him in The Empire Strikes Back, he's no longer whining about his training, he has complete faith in himself and his abilities, and he has mastered the Force because before he like really had to concentrate to use the Force, now it's instantaneous! Oh, and he's got a brand new cool lightsaber! So back to the story, they save Han and Luke debarks back to the Dagobah system one last time to finish his training. And sadly, master Yoda is dying of old age and reveals to Luke several things, he has to confront Vader to truly become a Jedi, after Yoda dies Luke is the only Jedi left in the galaxy, and there is another member of the Skywalker family. And yes, I do get misty-eyed when Yoda dies, it's depressing. Meanwhile on the second Death Star, The Emperor himself, Darth Vader's master arrives to corrupt young Skywalker to the dark side. And The Emperor is just magnificent played to sinister perfection by Ian McDiarmid. If Darth Vader made me love villains, The Emperor makes me want to be them more than anything. Soon the Rebels learn of the new Death Star and have to of course, take it out. But there's a hitch, it has a shield surrounding it and the only way to deactivate the shield is to destroy the shield generator before their fleet arrives to begin their assault on the Death Star. And this is where our Rebel friends meet the Ewoks, and this is either the second most hated life form in Star Wars history next to Jar Jar Binks, or is the most cute and adorable thing ever introduced into Star Wars. I am shocked at how divided people are to these little teddy bear looking things, I thought they were cute and harmless even though they make a mockery of my beloved Empire. So anyway, Luke confronts Vader on Endor and Vader takes him to The Emperor. So now we have a three way battle in this film, the fight to take out the shield generator, the fight to take out the Death Star, and the fight to defeat Darth Vader and The Emperor. And all the fights are really well done, but of course the final duel between Luke and Vader is the showstopper, there is so much emotion in this fight, more so than I think in any Star Wars movie. True, the duel between Luke and Vader in Cloud City is the best of the original trilogy, but this has serious emotions charging this fight, I mean there is a point where Luke just snaps. He is coming at Vader with all of his resolve and all of his anger, and this is not one of those carefully choreographed fight scenes you see in the prequels, Luke is swinging his lightsaber like a bat just hitting everything and really catching Vader off guard to the point where he cuts Vader's right hand off to reveal he has a robot hand just like Luke. So he defeats Darth Vader and The Emperor is just taunting Luke to kill him and Luke just won't do that. So he throws his lightsaber down, saying he will never turn to the dark side and he is a Jedi like his father before him. So The Emperor decides if he will not join us he will die, and then he proceeds to shoot lightning out of his fingers!! The Jedi can go screw themselves for all I care, this was the final moment that made me fully embrace the Empire and the dark side! I'd love to see the Jedi try that. So The Emperor is just torturing Luke, surging his body with electricity as he is begging Darth Vader to save him, and this is a great moment. You see the camera zoom in on Darth Vader's face and you can tell he's really conflicted and he still has the mask on and everything. So he looks to Luke and back to his master, picks The Emperor up over his head and throws him over a railing into the reactor where he disintegrates. Meanwhile the Rebels destroy the shield generator and they send in the fighters to destroy the Death Star, so Luke has to get out of there and he takes Darth Vader with him, and he asks Luke to take his mask off because he is dying and he wants to see his son with his own eyes. I'm sorry! I spoiled the surprise, but it's very difficult to talk about this movie without giving that away! So Luke obeys his father and slowly takes his mask off to reveal the scarred face of Anakin Skywalker, who tells Luke he saved him and to leave him, but Luke refuses and watches his father die and escapes the Death Star before it is blown up. At the celebration on Endor, Luke creates a funeral pyre for his father and burns his body. Later he sees the spirits of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda watching over him.

This concludes the original Star Wars trilogy. Thank you so much for joining me for this and tomorrow we will review the movie that disappointed and enraged millions of Star Wars fans.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Empire Strikes Back

You know, now that I have watched this movie again, I do have to agree with people when they say it's better than the original Star Wars.

I've even heard people call this movie a coming to age film, and I have never thought about it that way. But yes, The Empire Strikes Back is a superior film to the original Star Wars with no doubt about it. The stakes are raised higher than before, our heroes go through the darkest chapter of their story, and we get a revelation that shocked everyone in 1980 and still shocks people to this very day. So our story takes place six months after the end of Star Wars and the Empire is relentlessly hunting down the Rebels, because no one destroys the Death Star without turning a few heads and pissing off some people. The Rebels are hiding on a snow planet called Hoth, and the Empire is sending out probes throughout the galaxy and soon finds our heroes. They commence an attack which gives us the iconic battle of Hoth where the Imperial walkers are being fought by Snowspeeders, and it is a fantastic battle that gives us more vehicles that we haven't seen before and is quite intense at moments. So the Rebels are defeated and they have to retreat from the planet, but our main hero Luke has a vision of his old mentor Obi-Wan telling him he must travel to the Dagobah system to learn from the Jedi master Yoda. So Luke travels to Dagobah and starts learning more about the Force from his new master. Meanwhile Han Solo and his crew are being hunted down by the Empire and they eventually have to hide out on the planet of Bespin where they meet Lando Calrissian an old friend of Han Solo's played suavely by Billy Dee Williams. But the Empire soon finds them even there and captures them. Luke senses that his friends are in grave danger and leaves his training to save them, but before he even gets there Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and taken by a bounty hunter. When Luke finally arrives he has an incredible lightsaber duel with Darth Vader which results in Luke losing his right hand and learning some world shattering news. In my opinion this lightsaber duel is the greatest, probably of all the Star Wars movies, it makes the first lightsaber duel in the original Star Wars look like the most boring lightsaber duel in Star Wars history. One of my favorite parts of this fight is in the beginning, Vader treats Luke like he is no threat and single handedly fights Luke but near the end of the fight, Vader's breathing hard and he's really swinging at him and he's not one handing his lighsaber anymore because he knows Luke is a formidable opponent. There are tons of great moments in this movie, some even considered to be some of the greatest moments in cinema. The battle of Hoth is great, and the Imperial walkers are just such a huge threat and they move like machines because they were made with stop-motion. But another scene before that is also just awesome, so Luke is trapped in this cave and the only way he can get out is with his lighsaber, problem is it's just barely out of reach, so he closes his eyes and reaches out his hand and you just barely see that lightsaber just inch it's way towards his hands very slowly, which is awesome because in the first movie Luke really doesn't use the force until almost at the end. There's an unforgettable line of dialogue by Han Solo right before he gets frozen, because this is a big moment for the characters because they think this is the last time they will ever see him, so Chewbacca is freaking out throwing Stormtroopers left and right and Leia finally breaks and she says, "I love you.", to which Han Solo replies, "I know.". That is a badass, ladies and gentlemen. I'm not even going to touch the big secret in Empire Strikes Back for those of you who have not yet seen The Empire Strikes Back, but I will say this, when I first saw this movie when I was either 2 or 3 years old, I freaked a little bit. I've heard stories of people who saw this in the theater in 1980, so the third movie didn't even come out for another three years and people flipped and I can understand why!

So that is my review of The Empire Strikes Back, tune in tomorrow where we will finish the original trilogy, and then we can understand why for the most part the prequels were unnecessary and kinda pissed people off a bit.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars

It's Star Wars day! But that's not good enough for me, so we will be having a Star Wars week here, where everyday starting from today and ending Saturday I will be reviewing all the Star Wars movies!

So here it is, the one that started it all and my favorite movie of all time! What is there to say about Star Wars? It's one of the greatest movies ever made, it ushered in a new cultural phenomenon that has lasted to this very day, and it's groundbreaking special effects have paved the way for modern technology to flourish. There is too much to say about Star Wars, but we will focus today on the original 1977 version, no special edition version because Han does not shoot first, among other things. So Star Wars, if you've been living under a rock for almost 40 years is an epic sci-fi saga set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away centering around the journey of Luke Skywalker becoming a Jedi. We'll get to the story of the prequel movies soon. So why is this movie above all others my favorite movie of all time? Well it being the first movie I ever saw makes a huge impact, and it making me the happy geek I am today makes a huge difference. I shudder to think who the hell I would be if I never saw Star Wars at the age of 2 or 3. I am the biggest Star Wars fan you will ever meet. No seriously I can quote this whole movie from beginning to end...with sound effects and music included! I have seen it that many times! I love it so much, I have such a huge passion for it even after all these years, it's unbelievable. I love the story, it's concepts, it's ideas, it's technology, it's planets, everything! The characters are unforgettable, we have Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker who has this very simple life but is thrust into action led by a wise mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi played masterfully by Sir Alec Guiness,on their travels they meet a smuggler Han Solo played by Harrison Ford and his copilot Chewbacca played by Peter Mayhew, and are accompanied by two robots C-3PO played by Anthony Daniels and R2-D2 played by Kenny Baker who have to go save Princess Leia played by Carrie Fisher from the evil Galactic Empire headed by Darth Vader played epically by both David Prowse and James Earl Jones and the sinister Grand Moff Tarkin played beyond perfection by the incredible Peter Cushing. Seriously it is because of Darth Vader that I always wanted the villain to win in every movie when I was a kid, because the villains were way more interesting than the heroes, and made me the evil Sith Lord I am today. I could write a 300 page essay on Star Wars, but I will try and keep this short. The dialogue is so quotable, I think almost 100% of what I said when I was a little kid was a quote from Star Wars. The music is perfect, this is John Williams best score ever and it still gives me goosebumps and almost brings tears to my eyes. It's very difficult to describe the appeal of Star Wars for me,it's really just something you will have to experience for yourself if you haven't seen it already. And if you have seen it before, what are you doing reading this? Go watch Star Wars! It may not be a perfect movie, but I love it more than any other movie ever.

So check back tomorrow for my review of the sequel that surpasses the original, and is considered by many to be the absolute best Star Wars movie.

May the Force be with you.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ed Wood

One of my favorite movies of all time is also one of the best movies, not only of all time but also about making movies.

Ed Wood is one of those movies that really sticks with you for the rest of your life. It's the story of the so-called "Worst Director Of All Time", chronicling the making of three of his most famous or infamous movies. This film was directed by Tim Burton, it's shot gorgeously in black and white with a few odes to German Expressionism and a bit of Film Noir, and it has an ensemble cast leaded by Johnny Depp. This is easily one of Johnny Depp's greatest performances, playing a humble film director who has an enormous passion for movies and storytelling and his enthusiasm bleeds through the screen so much so that you get excited and happy for him when things go good for him. This film has so many stars in it. We have Martin Landau playing Bela Lugosi so perfectly that you actually forget that he's not really Bela Lugosi and he totally deserved the Academy award for "Best Supporting Actor", and if you're a big horror movie fan and Bela Lugosi fan you will not be disappointed. We have Sarah Jessica Parker as Ed Wood's girlfriend who is a bitch in this movie, she's horrible to poor Ed! But then he meets Patricia Arquette's character who is this absolute sweetheart, that Ed gets married to. Bill Murray plays Ed's best friend and he is absolutely hilarious because that's what Bill Murray does! We have a menagerie of actors who play the faithful crew of Ed Wood who are fantastic. So the entire cast is brilliantly chosen, and the entire production of this film is quite well done and is very accurate to the films Ed Wood made and how they were made behind the scenes. The music by Howard Shore is very unique and the inclusion of the "Finale" from Swan Lake almost brings tears to my eyes every time it plays. The film is very funny, but has serious emotional moments that could really get to you, and even might have a few scenes that can make you cry. It even has a scene where possibly the worst director of all time has a conversation with possibly the greatest director of all time, Orson Welles played by Vincent D'Onofrio and yet is voiced by Maurice LaMarche who also does a Orson Welles impression in Pinky and The Brain, but that's getting off topic. And the conversation they have really has a great message and words of wisdom to filmmakers for generations to come.

Ed Wood is actually my favorite movie about making movies. Yes there are very few movies that are better than Ed Wood about telling a story about how a movie is made, for example American Movie which by some is considered the greatest movie about making movies ever made but Ed Wood is my favorite. If you are a fan of movies and really like movies like American Movie, check out Ed Wood. It is a fantastic movie and just a great story about a director who was considered to be the worst but really was one of the most passionate filmmakers in history.