Star Wars Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith

We are enjoying our Star Wars review project and feel like it's a fun way to prepare for the upcoming movie release in December. This review contains spoilers (in case you haven’t watched this one yet, even though it’s been 10 Years.)


We watched The Revenge of the Sith which is the 3rd movie in the prequel trilogy. This film really focuses on Anakin becoming Darth Vader and the motives behind his radical change in loyalties. In my opinion, it's the best of the prequels and it comes close to being as good as the original series for me. Hayden Christensen is convincing as a tormented soul who is afraid of losing his wife. We know the trauma that losing his mother caused and we can see how he is manipulated because of his fears. 


Of course, many people suffer great loss and don't turn to the dark side. But it helps to at least get a glimpse of what drove him to these actions. I like the backstory and the setup for the original series (even though it was done in retrospect). There are still some bad acting moments, but the action is intense (and quite violent at the end). This movie is not for the little kids and they will be disturbed by what goes inside of Vader's suit. 

Overall, I give this movie a rating of 7 out of 10. The force is strong with this one!


Here's Alex's take on it:

Episode III: Gift of the Sith. 

This is the return to form we were all waiting for, and the best of the Prequel Trilogy. There are still a few unpolished moments, but it’s mostly good.

The Initial Showdown with Count Dooku (Yay, never have to type that again!) shows off the excellence of the space battles, and adds the skilled lightsaber fighting of earlier into the mix. 

We get what may be the best executed plot in the prequels, with intrigue complimenting, but not overpowering, the duels and climax of the prequels. 

Anakin completes his turn to the dark side, aided by Darth Sidious, who is actually Chancellor Palpatine. (Surprise! But only if you’re five.)

Also, we get two of the best lightsaber duels in the prequels, against General Grevious, who HAS A BAG OF ORGANS IN HIS BODY FOR NO REASON, and Anakin vs. Obi-Wan. Excellent fight. (Up till the last part.)

In fact, excellent everything. We have great use of foreshadowing for things that will happen and/or callbacks to what has happened. (This ought to confuse our readers.)

Hayden isn’t as awkward, and in fact, fits the role perfectly. This is what he wanted to do from the start, and he’s loving it. You can tell. In fact, that’s him in the Vader Suit towards the end of the movie.


Everyone has stepped up their game, resulting in excellent performances all around. My only major criticism is that the film is limited by what must happen in the Original Trilogy. That’s all I can think of.

There are also still some awkward dialogues, but the plot makes this more believable. (Never thought I’d type that out.)

The Force is Strong with:
The Space battles, the clone troopers, the lightsaber duels, the romance plot, the Foreshadowing/Callbacks, the clone troopers, Anakin’s plotline…

The Dark Side Lurks Within:

  • Palpatine is doing everything except wearing tattoos that say “I’m the Sith Lord, bozos!” and Anakin doesn’t notice.
  • “You look beautiful.” “Because I’m so in love.” “No, because I’m so in love with you.” “So love has blinded you?” “Are we playing who’s on first, Padme?” “Look, Annie, I’m trying to make awkward dialogue sound romantic.” “Ah, George Lucas wrote this.” “Pardon?” “Nothing, Padme.”
  • Anakin leaps towards Obi-Wan in a display of pride, but the last time someone had the high ground was Darth Maul. And Obi-Wan survived that no sweat. So what gives?
  • From Obi-wan: “Only a sith deals in absolutes.” Several Minutes later, also from Obi-Wan: “Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!” 

The Jedi say:
“Sometimes horrors can be forged in war, but such horrors must be faced to gain understanding, and move towards the light. If you lose sight of that, you lose your way. But to regain that understanding is greater than if one had never lost it.” –Obi-Wan Kenobi.

THERE’S GOOD IN HIM. (8 out of 10.)

Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones - Star Wars Film Project

Thankfully, Attack of the Clones is a big improvement over The Phantom Menace! We are currently on track with watching one Star Wars movie per week as we count down to the new movie coming out in December. 

There are spoilers in this post (in case you haven’t watched this one yet.)

I'll start off by getting the "bad" out there.  I guess it's supposed to be interesting to watch Anakin evolve, but it's also still rather boring. His romance with Queen Amidala (Padme) is just bizarre with the dialogue that has been written for these characters. Note to George Lucas: you are NOT a writer! Stay with the special effects and cool stuff and give away the keyboard. He actually did get help writing this movie, but that Anakin/Padme stuff has George all over it. And it just drives me crazy that she prances around in revealing outfits when she is alone with Anakin while telling him nothing can ever happen. No wonder the guy got a little crazy! Oh, and shouldn't Padme have had little red flags going off in her mind when Anakin told her he killed an entire village? She didn't even seem to bat an eye at that.

Now onto some of the fun stuff. We are getting backstory on how storm-troopers came to be. We pick up C-3PO again and see him get to know R2-D2 (who by the way, can actually fly?). If you want some mindless brain fluff, you can even count how many times Padme changes her outfits. LOL! And let's talk about Yoda. He totally kicks butt in this movie. Who knew he could fight like that?!

I'd say that this movie is split right down the middle for me. Half of it is good and half of it just isn't. So I'll go with 5 out of 10 for my rating.


Now on to Alex's review - my favorite part of this whole project!

Episode II: A Lack of the Moans

We start off with a bang, literally due to an assassination attempt on Senator Amidala,  and from there, move into a much more action paced film than Episode I. Yes folks, the action of Star Wars is beginning to pick up again!

This is probably the film the series should have started with. In between the bounty hunter action, combat, and action sequences, we get a real feel for the film coming into its own.

That said, there’s still a little awkwardness. Jar-Jar is still here, though given less to do overall. The real awkwardness lies in Anakin, who manages to make things creepy in the romance department.

When one of your romantic speeches boils down to “ANNIE HATE SAND, ANNIE LIKE SOFT, ANNIE WANT WOMAN!” you just know what we’re in for.

Not to mention Senator Amidala, who rebuffs the guy while wearing a variety of revealing outfits? Because that totally stops people from being interested. 

The film intensifies with the Separatists being revealed as behind the attempts on Amidala’s life, led by Christopher Lee, playing a role that probably raised eyebrows, that of Count Dooku. (I am not making this name up. I wish I were.)

Also, the Trade Federation is back, and still sounding like horrible Japanese stereotypes. (American! Terr me the rocation of the Crones! I see you suplised I speek engrish so fine.)

The battles and universe are expanded more, and you get the feeling that this film was better made. We’re not at the levels of the original trilogy yet, though. The strange word slips into the script here and there. (Younglings, for crying out loud. Get a grip.)

The Force is Strong with:

  • The entire Jango Fett Subplot. Brilliant setup for the future/past.
  • Samuel L. Jackson finally gets to fight droids. And he is pulling off the Jedi battles with style.
  • Yoda vs. Count Dooku. This is the CGI Team at their finest.
  • Anakin’s mom dies, and he slaughters a bunch of desert dwellers in return. The perfect start to the path Anakin will walk.

The Dark Side lurks within:

  • Count Dooku is NOT A NAME. It’s something else, like “Mom! Our pet went Dooku on the carpet again!” 
  • Anakin and Amidala: 0/10 Charisma (But still a better love story than Twilight!)
  • Irregular speech patterns on Yoda. Around the survivors, a perimeter create! (ACTUAL LINE)
  • Jar-Jar is now a senator, proving that any idiot can be in government.

Words from the Jedi:
People dreamed of seeing the Clone Wars for some time. But dreams aren’t always the best. I had to learn that the hard way. But there is still hope, in those close to us. And through that hope, brighter days lie ahead. – Anakin Skywalker

“Katie, my long range transmitter is shot. Tell our readers to leave a comment on this post if they want to ask anything.”

Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menance - Star Wars Film Project

We realize that we are still very much in the middle of our Disney Movie Project, but that doesn't mean we can't be working on other interests as well. When we realized that we will be seeing the newest Star Wars film in just six weeks and that there are 6 existing movies, it was the perfect excuse for a new weekly movie event! Alex and I have decided to watch the entire Star Wars film series and share our reviews about each movie.


We've always disagreed on where to begin when watching the movies. I grew up with the original trilogy and they weren't referred to as episodes 4, 5, & 6 back in the seventies and eighties. They were the first Star Wars movie, the second Star Wars movie and then the third. Both my husband and I still feel like these should be watched first because they are the oldest. 

Alex is faithful to the idea of going in order and he would never dream of starting with anything but episode one. I can totally respect his desire for chronology, but I think part of my hesitancy is because that means I have to watch a movie with Jar Jar Binks in it. Ugh! I have to admit that I like the idea of  'Machete Order' that Raj suggested in the Big Bang Theory episode about Star Wars movies. 
"Watch episodes four and five, skip one, watch two and three as a flashback and finish with 6"


Alas, you can tell by the title of this post who made the most convincing case. LOL! And so we start with The Phantom Menace. Spoiler Alert - there are spoilers in our reviews so if you are worried about that, go watch the movies and then come back!

Katie's Thoughts

I've already mentioned that this particular film is not my favorite of the series. I appreciate that there were great advancements in film and special effect technology by the time this one was made, but the old Star Wars movies (even with their less impressive effects) held much more magic for me than this movie.


The acting and voice work is sub-par for several characters and the story drags for the first part of the movie. There are so many problems with Jar Jar and the way the Viceroy are depicted that it is tempting to toss the movie altogether. If you can make it through all of that, then there are some good scenes waiting for you at the end. The lightsaber battle with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan against Darth Maul is action-packed and visually stunning. Several of the battle scenes are exciting and fun to watch.

How strong is the force with this movie? I give it a 3 out of 10. It's mostly a setup for the next films, but it's fun in it's own way.

My very favorite part of the movie isn't even in the film itself. What I absolutely love about the Phantom Menace is that it inspired The Saga Begins song by Weird Al. It is one of my all-time favorites and I will readily admit that I totally like it better than the original American Pie song it is based on. Any true Weird Al fan will tell you that everyone waits for this number as the big finale to his concerts! I guess I've gotten off topic though... on to the good stuff!

Alex's Opinion

May Four Stars be with us: The Star Wars Reviews.

-we came in?

Name’s Alex, and supported by my Padawan Katie (or is that the other way around?) we will be reviewing the Star Wars Movies.

We’re doing this in order of the episodes. I realize this is controversial, but think of it as like ripping off a bandage: quick and with little pain. Also, Episode 7 is coming out six weeks after these reviews start. So that’s also a compelling argument. (Seriously, Episode 7!) If you disagree, start reading at Episode IV. We’ll come around to you.

Katie will be reviewing the movies individually, and I’ll review how each one feels in the saga. But we’ll be doing that at the end, and bouncing off general ideas throughout. 

Oh, and there’s a spoiler warning. Have to put that in there so no one complains.


Episode I: The Phantom Suspense
Starting off, there’s quite a lack of combat in this film. I know combat isn’t the only thing that makes Star Wars, but it really adds to the way the films work. This film has two lightsaber battles, two piloting sequences, and not much else to add to the general combat. This is probably because there were advances in the real world government, but it makes for a boring installment.

And since we have no droid companions or anything like that, the comic relief is handed off to a bunch of two-bit aliens in the pod-race segment.

Oh, there’s also Jar-Jar Binks, who is completely useless in the plot except for two ideas. And what he does cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called funny.

I know everyone and their Mom is fawning over the new roll-around droid coming in Episode 7, but I’d like to point out that similar hype surrounded Jar-Jar. I even have a birthday card of him saved from all those years ago! I'm a little embarrassed to admit in my youth that I liked Jar Jar. Hey, I was only six years old!

First CGI character, hated by fandom, and forgotten in his pioneering by all the hype Gollum got in Lord of the Rings.

The main problem here is too much talking. If this were a video game, it would be an installment in the Metal Gear Solid franchise, due to how little action there is compared to talking. People talk via radio. People talk on floating chairs. People even talk during a funeral! (Seriously?)

The moment the fighting does start, it cuts back and forth to the point of confusion. Still, I loved the fight at the end. It shows just what sort of promise was available, and that the films could be executed correctly.

Liam Neeson also pulls off his role in the film with conviction. If you see the film, look to him for its saving grace. Totally worth it.

The Force is strong with:
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, as a good cop/cowboy cop Jedi, one of the best roles available in the Prequels, in my opinion.
The lightsaber sequence at the end. (Freaking Finally!)
The plot between Anakin and his mom. Serious stuff, and more proof that the films can be done correctly.

The Dark Side lurks within:
Jar-Jar Binks, and the very presence of the Gungans. 
Young Anakin’s Super Space Flight (Hint: Try spinning, it’s a good trick!)
The Senate is too long, and really boring, and don’t they have a bunch of proof? I mean, they have a message of what’s happening from a citizen of Naboo. And an alien that witnessed the attack firsthand!

The Jedi Council’s opinion:
A rocky start to the prequel series, and not as focused as it could have been. We elect remedial plot study. Diplomacy is but one means of conducting oneself, and to attack is not always the worst option. – Mace Windu.


More to say, have you? Feel free to leave us a comment!



Lady and the Tramp - Disney Films Project

 We've been moving along in our Disney Films Project and this is the last film that we got Riley's review on before she left for a church mission to serve in Iowa. It was good she got to end on this one because it's one of her favorites! 


Lady and the Tramp is considered to be a classic from the Walt Disney studio. It is generally well liked, but some consider the animation to be sub-par. It's interesting to note that Walt wanted to cut the iconic spaghetti scene and it was only because of the work of an animator who went ahead without his approval, that this stayed in the movie. Can you imagine Lady and the Tramp without it?! 

Katie's thoughts

This film is an old favorite of mine. It's just a simple story that I like and feels comfortable to watch. There's nothing ground-breaking going on here, but it's enjoyable. A few cute songs and some puppy love. I particularly enjoy the dog pound scene and "He's a Tramp" number. I also love it when they share a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Adorable! Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 Mickeys on our rating scale. 

Second opinion with Alex

This is a good film. However, from a studio that's set the bar at spectacular, that's not a good thing. It's rather like a wet firework, truth be told.

You can almost feel the whole thing being tossed together as some proof of concept that Disney had a heart. Truthfully, the film suffers from lack of originality. High class girl meets low class guy, things ensue, they have issues, but get back together and marry. You know, like every Romantic comedy on the planet. 

"Forgettably Precious!" was my reaction. It's a fair film, but it kinda lacks the focus of other films before. Ironically, this is the first film to not be tied into an adaptation. (Excepting the package films.)

I grant this 5 out of 10 Mickeys. Better than the package films, but no all-star.

Riley's viewpoint

Some might disagree with me on this one, but Lady and the Tramp is one of my very favorites. It's the first film that I'm giving 10 full Mickey ears. I know it's a cliche love story, but it's an enduring one. If you are willing to think beyond the title love story, you realize that the love is deeper in this film. Lady loved her family so much that she went back to take care of the baby, even when it meant she would face the aunt's abuse again. Tramp gave up his freedom because of his love for Lady. Even Jaque and Trusty were willing to sacrifice their bachelor lives and marry Lady to give her the honor she deserved. The friends are loyal to each other and the love is strong. 

He's a tramp, but we love him! 

Peter Pan - Disney Films Project

We've been a little hit and miss on our Disney Films Project the last few weeks and now I'm trying to get caught up on our reviews. 


Katie's thoughts

Peter Pan is one of the films you think of when Disney Classics are mentioned. I've always enjoyed the film and Captain Hook is one of my all-time favorite villains, especially because of his relationship with the crocodile who wants to finish him off. Tinkerbell has never been on my favorite list because she's a little too snooty for me. I also struggle with Peter himself as he isn't all that likeable. I find it interesting that I enjoy the scenes with Hook and Smee more than the ones centered around Peter. The children are delightful though and I especially love the nursemaid dog Nana.  This movie is well done, but it's not anything that thrills me. I give it 6 out of 10 Mickeys on our rating scale.


Second opinion with Alex

We're back to the good films.

Quite frankly, this is a much better use of songs, plot, and focus. I had "a moment" during one of the more understated tracks, "Your Mother and Mine." 

The plot is a good execution, and there's reason why the whole thing holds up, even today. How do you describe a classic? I struggle to find a way. 

I will admit, any film that has such powerful story at work is brilliance in action. The adaptation team knew what they were doing this time!

This film, I give 8 of ten Mickeys. Points were taken off for the depiction of the Indians, but this film is near perfection. It even redeems Wendy's actress, formerly in the role of Alice.

Riley's viewpoint

I like Peter Pan and appreciate the classic story about the struggle of not wanting to grow up. We all want to keep living our childhood, but when Wendy decides she is ready to grow up, we can also relate to that as well. There's a good balance of emotions in this film. Tinkerbell is an interesting character that I both liked and disliked at the same time. She's a diva, but a cute one. Hook is funny because he's such a stress case all the time. I also like Smee and find him quite entertaining as well. This film gets 7 out of 10 Mickeys from me. 

Peter Pan was one of Walt Disney's favorite stories and he worked for years to get the rights to produce this film. The Disney blog even says that Walt Disney played Peter Pan in a school play!

Even though Tinkerbell is not my favorite character, we have some fun memories around her because Riley dressed up in a darling Tinkerbell dress for Halloween when she was three years old. She fell in love with this dress at The Disney Store and she was the perfect little pixie in it!

Think of the happiest things ... it's the same as having wings!

Alice in Wonderland - Disney Films Project

This was one movie that Alex and Riley were not looking forward to watching for our Disney Films Project, but for me it was like revisiting memories from long ago. Alice in Wonderland is a very unusual film in the Disney canon. It was not well received on first release, but has later become a cult classic. It is also regarded as a masterpiece in animation. 


Katie's thoughts

There is definitely a difference of opinion in our house on this film. I will readily admit that it is a very strange film! My brother watched it almost every day when he was just a few years old though so it has a lot of memories for me. I've come to appreciate it's wackiness over the years and I enjoy it for the most part. It's not a fabulous film, but it's fun in it's own way. As a very minor point - I really like the color scheme and art of this film. How's that for obscure? I give this one 5 out of 10 Mickeys. 


Second opinion with Alex

Ladies and Gentlemen, an unpopular opinion.

Yeah, I don't really like this movie. Never have! Walt Disney didn't either, you know. 

You'd probably be interested to find out the hours of songs, scrapped sequences, and additional behind the scenes stuff. STOP BEING INTERESTED, that's the message of the film. Curiosity before reason is a "bad thing", so they say.

The general nonsense of the books is benign. This is more territorial, more in-your-face. And frankly, I don't like it. My greatest grief is with The Holy Terror, a nightmare commonly known as The Queen of Hearts. 

I reserve my 1 out of 10 mickey rating for this movie, with it's one redeeming factor being some of the Cheshire Cat. But not all. If I had the resources, I'd make my own, better version.

Yours, Alex Nelson. (Let the internet arguments begin.)


Riley's viewpoint

There are some very good lessons and morals to the story presented, although it's definitely a strange film. The animation was really fabulous and I noticed the art style throughout the movie. While I can appreciate a lot of good things about this movie, it is just a little too out there weird for me. I give it 4 out of 10 Mickeys.


I've mentioned that I have a history with this film. I even created a scrapbook page about it that is on display in my page gallery on my website.

I have a set of Alice in Wonderland figures from The Disney Store that I've enjoyed photographing.

Riley has some really cute Alice in Wonderland Tsums Tsums

And I find it quite funny that Alex has a Cheshire Cat in his plush collection since he dislikes the movie so much!

Cinderella - Disney Films Project

 We are so happy to be in the classics section of our Disney Films Project!  Cinderella is not only the telling of a fairy tale, it was actually the movie that saved the Disney studios. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy after several box office disappointments and the struggle of the war years and the package films era. Cinderella was a commercial success that was received well by the critics and the public alike. It is considered to be one of the great classics in animation films.


Katie's thoughts

This is the type of film that made Disney a beloved name in the world of family entertainment. The story is simple, the songs are sweet, and the message is a good one. While the original fairy tale has a few more gruesome elements that were wisely left out of this telling, it still tells the basic story with the addition of some very Disney touches. Not everyone loves the mice (see Alex's review) but I think they add a delightful element to the story and they were always my favorite part of the film.

The scene where Cinderella is transformed is one of my favorites, and it turns out that it was Walt's all-time favorite piece of animation.  I have also always loved the scene where the spell is broken and Cinderella is left with nothing but a smashed pumpkin and a glass slipper because she is grateful for what she was given. She doesn't cry that it ended, but says thanks and shows gratitude for being able to live such a dream, even for a very short time.

It's not the most perfect of the Disney films, but it's so important to the history of the studio and it's very well done, especially for the time period. I'm giving this one 9 out of 10 Mickeys.


Second opinion with Alex

I am so glad that we got out of the package film era!

This film has excellent technical focus, and some of the best animation out there. My one peeve is the mice, specifically the mice singing. Too much Alvin and the Chipmunks for me.

What else can I say? This film has the rare distinction of saving Disney from bankruptcy. And all characters have good development. I give this film 7 out of 10 Mickeys. One of the cornerstones of the collection, and has appeal to adults as well.

Riley's viewpoint

Cinderella is one of my all-time favorites and I have loved this film for a long time. It's a classic story that you can revisit any time in your life and find something to relate to. We all feel like Cinderella at times. The mice add so much fun and comic relief to the story and it would fall flat without them. This gets 8 out of 10 Mickeys from me.

Cinderella's castle is the symbol of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park and Tokyo Disneyland and has come to be an important icon of the entire Disney universe. 

Earlier this year, I took my Cinderella figurine with me to the Grand America Hotel and let her attend another grand ball.

She really needs to get out more!

Of course, my favorite Cinderella memory is the time that Riley (at four years of age) wanted to be Cinderella for Halloween and was so excited to have me be her "berry Godmother" - That's what she thought her name was. So sweet! We got the Cinderella dress from The Disney Store and I found the blue sparkly fabric at Joann's and made my own costume.