Star Wars Top 5: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

This is the movie I was excited to see with Episode IV since Rogue One is happing during the time between both of them. Seeing Rogue One made me realize that I had not seen the Star Wars movies in a long time so I decided to take each live action movie and do a Top 5 of my favorite moments in each of them. I already did Episode I and II, and now I can finally relax and safely say that the worst is behind me. This movie is actually a pretty strong entry in the franchise since we finally get to see how the Republic and the Jedi Order fell, and how Anakin became Darth Vader. The story feels more complex and it focuses more on action sequences since it happens during the Clone War. In my opinion, this is actually, the only relevant and interesting movie when it comes to Anakin’s turning to the Dark Side.

1. Order 66

This sequence is perfect even if we don’t really know the Jedi who are being killed off by the clone troopers, because Lucas lets the images tell the story, there is no dialogue, he lets the music accentuate the emotions. You really feel how powerful Palpatine has become and the consequences that will lead the Republic to its downfall. They are now being hunted by their own allies which is an interesting concept itself that was more developed in the comics. I love how Lucas used the lighting and the camera angle to create a dark and sombre feeling without making it gritty. Also, when I watched the Original trilogy, I always thought that a war had happened between the Empire and the Jedi Order, but instead it only took two words to turn an army against its general.

2. The Opera Scene

This is the best and the most crafted scene of the prequels that actually adds something to the Star Wars mythos without being a special effect. This is about Anakin emotional turmoil and his need for more power. The Darth Plagueis story that the Emperor tells Anakin is mysterious, interesting and creates even more questions about Anakin’s birth that backtracks a bit on midichlorians. We get an hint of Anakin and Palpatine’s relationship. For once, the dialogue feels smooth and it flows. We understand that he is manipulating Anakin. The tone is perfect, since it’s dark and creepy, yet at the same time it’s soothing and calm since they are at the opera.

3. Anakin Skywalker vs Obi-Wan Kenobi

I love the idea of this sequence, but there were some problems with the execution. The action at first was great, but after few minutes, it is still the same and then it only becomes ridiculous. I love that at least this sequence has stakes compare to the fight with Darth Maul and there is a deeper connection between both men. We finally see how much damage the Emperor did, how much he manipulated him to think that Obi-Wan turned his wife against him. And it also connects with the Opera scene when Palpatine told Anakin that when the Dark Side he could learn few tricks to beat his master and all he had to do is finish the job. It is an interesting connection that is not enough exploited. Once again, it puts too much focus on the gimmicks of the special effects and not enough on the pain and the anger that both characters are going through.

4. Opening Space Battle Sequence

This is the best battle of the prequels and we finally have a worthy space battle. For once it feels more like a space adventure than C-SPAN. To be honest, it’s only on the list because I love the special effect, because the editing is to fast and choppy making hard to follow the action. I also like that without too much explanation and straight into the action we see the new relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan. The banter feels more fluid and funny. It feels like they have been through many battles together during the Clone War that now Anakin is closer to be Obi-Wan’s equal. It’s a fun and entertaining way to bring the audience up to speed with what has happened since the last movie.

5.Anakin’s Internal Conflict

This is the final outcome of Anakin’s conflict through the prequel until he finally becomes Darth Vader. During Episode I, Anakin sees the Jedi as the saviours of the Galaxy and to them he is the Chosen One. He is only studying and using the light, yet he is unstable. Then in Episode II, Anakin still wants to become a Jedi, but he feels a pull to the Dark Side and we get a glimpse of that when he kills the Tusken Raiders. He starts doubting, not the Jedi Order, but he owns ability to stay away from the Dark Side. And finally during Episode III, Anakin is being pushed to his limit. On one side, the Jedi Order does not trust the Emperor or his relationship with him, so they want Anakin to spy on him. He craves more power, but the Jedi Order does not trust him. On the other side, he is being manipulated by Palpatine who uses his doubt and he amplifies them, then he promises him more power. That conflict is fascinating to watch throughout this movie and the trilogy when you go back again.

So what did you think of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith? I think this movie deserves to be part of the Star Wars Universe. The story is far more interesting, the pacing is much better and we get more character development. The dialogue is still problematic, but it’s not as obvious since it’s more science-fiction than romantic comedy. All in all this is a great conclusion to a pretty abysmal trilogy.

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Doctor Who Christmas 2016 Special Review

Episode Christmas Special: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Yes, I am a bit late for this review, but it took me a couple weeks to digest how much I hate this Christmas special. For the first time since I started watching this show in 2010, I was left speechless at the end of the episode wondering if I might have wondered in the wrong universe for one moment. But no, unfortunately that was our show for 2016 and when I saw the reviews online I was bewildered. Many people loved it and I could not understand why since everything fell so flat for me, but I guess that’s why it’s my opinion.

Now, I loved the last Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song. I thought it was a great ending to a brilliant character. It was far from perfect, but the chemistry between her and the Doctor was amazing. So, when I saw the first trailer, I didn’t really know why Doctor Who would follow the Superhero trend, but at the end of the day if the episode is good I don’t care. Though, in this case, the jokes felt forced and I just didn’t feel that excited to see it. And I was right, from storytelling to the dialogue to the characters themselves, it was a big mess.

As I said before, it could be interesting to mix superhero with the Doctor, especially if you are doing a satire. The thing is to do a satire you must understand and master the code of the genre you want to parody and Moffat does not. To me, it felt like a CW spinoff show and even then it would have been canceled. Since Moffat didn’t understand the basic laws of the genre, he was not able to build on it or makes funny jokes about it. Everything felt either flat or it looked like they just tried to do the genre, but it didn’t work.

Then there was the dialogue. Why is it so hard for screenwriters to show us the action instead of talking about it. It was 1h30 of exposition and boring backstory that went nowhere. We were at the half way point and we were still introducing new informations about characters and the story itself, new plot points. The story was standing still and it went nowhere. I was never invested in the characters problem because I never connected with them. They were cartoony representation of cartoons. As for the Doctor, he was barely in the episode and when he was there, it was always about the two idiots with their stupid love problems. I want to see the Doctor in action solving problems, not sitting at a table explaining everything, the whole plot to the audience. That’s boring.

The only alright thing about this episode is Nardole, only because he was not annoying me and I like the actor. I want to see more of his adventures with the Doctor, not the other two idiots. All in all, I just don’t understand why it took them one year to write this special. I like that they tried a new idea, but the structure of the story is always the same, so it only becomes predictable, and boring. Let’s just hope for a better series 10. I really went with an open mind wanting to love this Special, but it just felt completely off.

GRADE: E

Star Wars Top 5: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

As I said in the previous instalment of this on going series, I am watching once again every Star Wars live action movies, because Rogue One got me really excited to revisit Episode IV being a prequel to that said movie. This is not a regular review since I didn’t want to only have dark thoughts for the next few days. Instead, I am doing a Top 5 of my favorite moments in each films. In this second part, I will review the worst of the worst Episode II: Attack of the Clones. This is not just boring, Lucas wanted to make a romantic comedy with a creepy love story at the center of it. It’s a terrible idea, because Lucas cannot write good dialogue, there is no chemistry between the leads and oh right THIS IS STAR WARS!

1. The Death of Anakin Skywalker’s Mother

This is a pivotal point in Anakin’s storyline, since it’s the first time he turns to the dark side. As a Jedi he is supposed to be a calm and rational being, but instead he lets anger lead his action after his mother’s death. He ends up killing every single Tusken Raiders in the camp where he found his mother. Anakin was scared of losing his mother which we saw in the first film and the fear turned into anger and that lead him to the dark side even for one moment. We get our first glance at Darth Vader, before he becomes again a whiny brat in the next scene. Hayden Christensen’s acting is on point here since he is not talking and we do see his transformation. The only issue I have is that we don’t see him kill the Tusken Raiders which takes away from his power, we only hear him whiny about it.

2. Jedis Are Finally Fighting Together

The battle between the Droids and the Clones is pointless because they are both expendables machines, but what makes it fun is the arrival of the whole Jedi Order. In the Prequel, the Jedi Order is in its prime, they are powerful, so it’s great to see them fight together on the battlefield. The only problem is that there is no teamwork except for Anakin and Obi-Wan, so they look like cool super soldiers. In Episode I and most of this movie, they are still talking, and it’s great to finally see them do something, anything. Since everything is CGI, it doesn’t really feel organic, it all looks choreograph, but since it gives them more leeway, I can get pass it.

3. Jango Fett

I have mix feeling about this character. Since Boba Fett is his clone son, now I know what he looks like under the mask and we see him as a child which I actually hate. It is pointless to have his son there, except to say “Hey isn’t that the guy from the Original trilogy? Why is he there?”. Anyway, when Jango is fight Obi-Wan outside, the action itself is pretty cool since he uses the gadgets in his bag pack. That being said, when he is inside, which is most of the time, he only gives exposition and he is boring and pointless. So, he was not necessary, but his action sequence was still nice to watch.

4. The Zam Wessel Chase

It’s a fun chase sequence that I enjoy for few reasons even though it’s kind of pointless in the story and it’s only there to showcase the new CGI that now feels really dated. I love that we get to see more of Coruscant and this time around during the night. It feels a lot like the nightlife in New York, but with a more alien twist. Compare to other action sequences, this one is well thought out and the editing is clean, quick and exciting. Once in the bar, Obi-Wan does once again his Jedi mind-trick which is for once a nice call back to the Original trilogy and actually a funny exchange. The cars don’t look futuristic or alien to me, but more like they are straight out of a cartoon.

5. The Arena

No jokes, this one is even weaker than the least two, because I am running out of good things to say about this pile of crap. It is fun and somewhat entertaining to see how Anakin, Padmé and Obi-Wan who are strapped to a pole will get out of that situation when there are alien beast attacking them. We can see that Padmé who doesn’t have the Force can still hold on her own and help the other two as well. Here, she is not some damsel in distress that Anakin has to keep safe. Yes it’s obvious that they are in a studio with CGI, but it’s not really annoying, since the characters are distracting us from those effects. And since we care at least about Obi-Wan and maybe about the other two, we are invested in their survival.

So what did you think about Episode II: Attack of the Clones? I believe that nothing, no angle can salvage this piece of shit. The story is still boring, since people are still sitting in semi-circle and talking, but Lucas decided that he wanted to do a British romantic comedy IN SPACE. The dialogue is at its worst, the special effects have become dated and I had a hard time finding 5 good things about this movie. So I give up. I hate this movie, period!

GRADE: E

Star Wars Top 5: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

Now that we are getting one Star Wars movie per year, I decided to watch the 7 movies once again, especially since Rogue One happen right before Episode IV. Now, I decided not to do a classic review of those movies since it’s way too easy to start a two pages rant about the prequels and forget that there are some good things in those movies too. They are just well hidden. So, I decided to do a Top 5 of my favorite moments in each of these movies. In this first instalment, I will take a look at the first prequel movie, Episode I: The Phantom Menace which is seen by many fans as the worst, but in my opinion, it will be coming in the next part, Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The biggest problem of this movie, Lucas does not follow the first rule of screenwriting: Show don’t tell. Oh, and also the dialogue is terrible. It’s a mix of both.

1. The Famous Pod Racing Sequence

The whole sequence is brilliant, because CGI really has it’s place and it was ground breaking technology at the time. It really does feel like watching Ben Hur, but in a galaxy far, far away. It was a good idea to do it on Tatooine, since we already know the inner working of the city and the power of the Hutt, well if you have since the Original Trilogy. It adds to the mythos of the planet. It’s also a clever way to show how connect Anakin is to the force without dialogue, even if they explain it before and after the race again. I don’t agree that it was too long, since the visuals on screen are keeping us excited.

2. Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Darth Maul

This was the high point for everyone in this boring pile of crap. If the pod race was not for you, this kept you on the edge of your seat. The Vader and Luke lightsaber battle was great, because it had an emotional depth to it, but with the technology and a martial artist as the bad guy Lucas had more liberties with the choreography. And then adding the double edge lightsaber was fantastic, says the 10 years-old in me. It adds intensity and shows his skills as an apprentice. Of course, we know that Obi-Wan will make it, but the fate of Qui-Gon is uncertain which makes the fight suspenseful and exciting. I love how grounded it feels, because instead of only using CGI, it is in fact three people fighting each other. The only problem I might have is that sometimes it feels a little bit choreograph.

3. Anakin Skywalker and his Mother

There is one scene that stood out in this movie and it’s when Anakin is about to leave his mother to become a Jedi. He is just a naive child so he makes promises to his mother that he cannot keep and she knows that, but she gives him hope anyway. Of course, if the actors and the directions would have been good, this scene would have been spectacular and more emotional. This connection will become Anakin’s first step to the dark side in the next movie, so this shows how he feels leaving his mother behind as a slave. For once, I have to say that Jake Lloyd is good in this scene since we feel his fear and apprehensions.

4. Exploring New Worlds

In the Original trilogy, they didn’t have the budget or the technology to go on many planets in one film, or even on different parts of one planet. So Tatooine is only a desert and Hoth is only an ice planet. Though, with CGI, Lucas can explore his vision which makes the Star Wars universe feel bigger. Only on Naboo there is an under water city, a forest, a city and a huge fields. And we see Coruscant which is the center of the Republic and a brilliant idea, the whole planet is one big city. Lucas uses the spaceship to zoom through the city and exploring the many sights.

5. Padmé, Obi-Wan & Qui-Gon Jinn

Those are the only three good new actors in this whole movie and even then Natalie Portman could have done better with more directions. Though, the best casting is Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi since he has the same mannerism and personality as Alec Guinness in the Original trilogy. Plus, he is a real badass especially in the third movie, even if his one-liners did become annoying with time. He has great chemistry with Liam Neeson who played Qui-Gon Jinn. That character might not have been well develop and its purpose might have been only to sprout exposition to move to plot forward, but he still had that cool and badass Jedi attitude. In this movie only, I like Padmé as a character since she takes decisions for her planet and she is in the middle of the fight. Then it goes all to Hell in the next two movies.

So what did you think of Episode I: The Phantom Menace? Personally, I don’t hate it, I just find it boring and it doesn’t feel like there are any stakes for the whole galaxy in this movie. Most of the time, I don’t care about any character and I just want to see the kickass lightsaber battle. To prove a point, the most memorable thing about this movie is Jar Jar Binks and all for the wrong reasons.

GRADE: D

Review 1: Why Him? (23 December 2016)

This is the type of movie you see with your mates over the holidays and most of the time, those movies are terrible. At best, they give you a couple of laughs. Last year, we had the movie The Night Before by Seth Rogen and it was pretty funny. It is a Christmas themed movie with pot and alcohol jokes in it. So don’t get your expectations to high and you will enjoy it a lot. This year it was James Franco’s turn to make a Christmas movie, Why Him? with Bryan Cranston and it might not be as funny as The Night Before, but I did laugh a few times. That being said, I expect a terrible movie and it turned out to be alright, so it’s not a masterpiece, let’s get that right.

The story is pretty basic, a girl, Stephanie played by Zoey Deutch who is close to her father Ned played by Bryan Cranston, invites her family to meet her millionaire and eccentric boyfriend, played by Franco, in California. Yes, it’s pretty simple and it’s been done a billion time, and probably much better in the past. Without even trying, you can predict the ending and there is nothing intriguing there. I really don’t believe people should focus on the screenplay aspect of this movie, because it feels tired.

The best thing about the movie is the animosity between Franco and Cranston who plays the father. Franco is the same narcissist boyfriend that he played before, but in this movie he is a computer genius who cannot understand the social WASP standards of the American society. The father and Franco both live in different world. The writer is trying to bring a social commentary, but it ends up being a joke in itself, a weak, but interesting satire. And yes, there is some slapstick comedy and some childish humour, but it is not the main focus of the story, making the jokes feel more diverse and crafted. Though, the characters are all caricatures and there is no effort to develop them, I could never be invested in their problems. It was really all about the jokes.

All in all, yes, this movie made me laugh, but I won’t remember it in a few days. It felt similar to movies that I saw before. The best thing about it was the chemistry between James Franco and Bryan Cranston, but there is nothing interesting about the characters themselves. The girl, Deutch, was not memorable, she never had a key scene that made her hilarious. That being said, if you want to laugh and have a good time with some friends, this is the movie you should see.

GRADE: C+