Star Wars Episode 6 - Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi is the film I grew up thinking of as the last Star Wars movie. Little did I know! It is the last one we needed to watch for our Star Wars review project though and now we are all ready to go see The Force Awakens tomorrow! We don't plan to post a review of that film until it is released on DVD because we don't want to ruin it for others. We hate spoilers! That said, there are spoilers in this review of The Return of the Jedi. It was released 35 years ago, but there may still be some who haven't seen it so consider yourself warned.

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This movie is all about Luke completing his journey. He must face Vader to fully become a Jedi Knight. He has to reconcile his past with his present in order to face his future. Deep, this is. There is a lot of action in this film and some very memorable scenes.

I remember being repulsed by Jabba the Hut as a child and I still find him absolutely disgusting. When we watched that sequence, both my husband and I noted that it was definitely different than we remembered it and Alex informed us it was because George was up to his old CGI remastering tricks, I don't know why he couldn't leave it alone. None of the new stuff was necessary at all!

Again, Han is a big reason this movie works.  This is also Mark Hamil's finest performance as Luke. I like the maturity of the character and I also like that he wasn't perfect, but definitely trying to be the best he could be. I felt like Leia was a little weaker in this film than she was in the previous two, but she's still a good character. 

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Vader unmasked still ranks as one of the most shocking cinematic moments I ever experienced in my life. It was horrifying as a child, but also fascinating. I've always felt like it all wraps up a little too quickly from that point, but I guess that is my longing for a deeper look into the man behind the mask. I suppose that is exactly what led Lucas to make the prequels.

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This is the only Star Wars film that I'm giving a higher ranking to than Alex. He really hated the Ewoks and I have to agree with him that they were cheesy and really beneath the story. I also didn't like all the goofy muppet and CGI stuff thrown in with the Jabba scene. The Luke and Leia connection still seems a little stretched, but I've come to accept it over the years. Overall, the story was a pretty good ending to a great trilogy. I'm giving it 6 out of 10 stars.

 

Here's Alex's review:

May Four Stars be with us - Episode VI: Return of the CGI.

First, we get a really, really complex plan that I will cover in another section, which causes everyone to enter Jabba’s palace and be slated for execution. Also, there’s a fantasy concert for no apparent reason. But points for Luke using the Jedi mind trick here!

Also, Han is blind from the freezing, and missing some pretty interesting sights as a result. Yep. Pretty interesting sights. *COUGH*Leiasgoldbikini*COUGH*

Luke heads to Dagobah, where he gets confirmation that, yes, Vader really is his father. Also, Leia is his sister- Wait, WHAT?

Yes, Luke and Leia are siblings. Which teaches us all an important lesson, namely:

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Following this, the Rebels learn about Death Star 2: The Sequel, and set out to the planet of the Wookies to-What?

What do you mean “not Wookies”? What race are they interacting with?

Really?

Sigh….

The planet of the Ewoks, small primitive creatures.

In fact, they’re so primitive, they regard C-3PO as a god.*rimshot*

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The Ewoks somehow manage to capture our heroes, but after some force antics and stuff, our heroes are in with the Ewoks.

Han: Just what I always wanted! (He says sarcastically.)

Vader finds Luke and brings him to the Emperor, in an unwitting act of mercy. Luke meets the Emperor, and is tempted to give in to the dark side by the revelation that he’s led the rebels here, or in other words:

 

Han, Leia, and the Ewoks (Saturday mornings on ABC) shut down the shield generator through sheer dumb luck, Luke overcomes the darkness in him, and Vader saves his son from the Emperor’s zappy powers, then dies. They leave just as Lando blows up the death star, and a dance party ensues.

SPECIAL EDITION ADDITION: Then, we see a bunch of planets in a montage, including what I swear is Jar-Jar saying “Wesa Free!”

Luke sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Hayden Christensen. And everyone lives happily ever after, alongside the stupid side characters.

Isn’t this where…

 

The Force is Strong with:

Han Solo is still on his game.

The sequence with Yoda is amazing in how touching it is.

The Space battle around the Death Star II

The Final Lightsaber Duel with Vader and Luke.

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The Dark Side Lurks within:

Luke’s plan: Send my droids to Jabba, then have Leia impersonate a bounty hunter and turn in Chewbacca. Then have Leia rescue Han, and get caught by Jabba, who will then take her as a slave. Swoop in, threaten Jabba, fight a beast, get sent to the sail barge, have R2-D2 toss me my lightsaber, use Lando’s impersonation of a palace Guard, take out Boba Fett, have Leia strangle Jabba with her chain and R2 cut her free, and blow up the ship after swinging away on a convenient rope. This is the most confusing get-yourself-captured plan, and has spawned too many imitators.

Jabba’s Rock band, The CGI Renders.

The Ewoks. Today’s the day the teddy bears ruin Star Wars!

The Speeder bikes are painfully obvious Chroma Key. (A portal to faraway lands. Or as Garth puts it, “Hi, I’m in Delaware!”)

No tribe of primitives should be able to penetrate ARMOR! What low-grade material is the Empire using?

Vader says his big Nooooooo during throwing the Emperor off the power station.

Finally, Luke just reconnected with his father. Why is his dad Hayden Christensen all of a sudden?

 

The Jedi Says:

There is good in all that we can find. We just need to be open to it. Though such light may seem basic and trite, it can be a good reprieve from the horrors of war.

Maybe no one earned medals today, but we’ve done well, and the Empire is gone, and no one will ever, ever, rise up to replace them. Right?

Well, better start learning how to pass the Jedi way along. This’ll be a fun few decades.

-Luke Skywalker.

DIGESTED OVER 1000 YEARS (5 out of 10.)

 

You underestimate the power of the comments section.

Star Wars Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back

We are making good progress with our Star Wars review project and we are excited that we will be able to finish all the movies before this weekend's new release!

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Katie's Review:

This is the meat of the Star Wars trilogy (the original one). We find out the reason for Darth Vader's obsession and we get to be a part of Luke's Jedi training and journey. For me, Han steals the show! He's such a scoundrel and I get a kick out of his whole demeanor in this film. Also, I never noticed how hilarious Chewie is in this episode. Every time they struggle with something on the ship, he basically has a meltdown. We love Chewie around here because he reminds us of our old Golden Retriever who passed away a few years ago. Seriously, they speak the same language!

I really like just about everything about this film. There are a few rough spots on some of the special effects, but back in the time of the original release those effects were magical. I'm grateful that George Lucas didn't alter those scenes. The only part I really didn't like was the snow monster in the cave. That was just a little too lame and a bit gross. I know it's part of the story, but I suppose it's enough of a bother to me that I couldn't give the film a full 10 stars on our scale. It's close to perfection though so it gets a 9.5 out of 10 from me.

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Alex's Review:

May Four Stars Be with Us - Episode 5: The Empire Strikes a Match.

Again, there are people who experience new things each day, and don’t spoil it for them. I’ll put a notice before the big thing.

The movie goes all in on the first part, taking us to the snowy biome of Hoth, and making one of the best battle sequences of all time. Why is the Battle of Hoth so good? Simple. The whole thing is designed by actual Norwegian Army veterans, who know how battles go. Unlike some artificial battle, this is planned in execution on both sides.

We see the first sparks of the Han/Leia relationship, and a really impressive sequence in an asteroid belt, that sets the bar on how character development goes. 

Meanwhile, Luke, encouraged by a vision, trains with Jedi Master Yoda after dealing with a somewhat annoying little gremlin, who audiences probably didn’t like. Surprise, that’s Yoda himself! Luke trains with Yoda, learning the ways of the force, but soon sees a vision of the future: his friends in pain. Against the wishes of Yoda and Obi-Wan’s Ghost, Luke leaves for Cloud City, to save his friends.

Speaking of which, they’ve run across Lando Calrissian, an old friend of Han’s, who’s hospitality is marred by the inconvenience of Imperial troops and Darth Vader having shown up to take Han, Leia, and Chewbacca hostage.

The real reason for this all, including the freezing of Han Solo in carbonite, is to lure Luke into a trap planned by Vader. An epic Lightsaber Duel between them, with Vader encouraging Luke to tap into his anger and fear, and become like Vader.

OK, if you want to avoid spoilers, skip to the words Luke escapes by the skin of his teeth, using Control+F. You’re being warned well in advance. Don’t see this if you want to experience the movie as normal. I AM SHOUTING TO INFORM YOU HOW SERIOUS THIS IS.

THE CRUCIAL TWIST IS HAPPENING IN SEVEN,

SIX,
FIVE,

FOUR,

THREE,
TWO,
ONE!

Then, Darth Vader cuts off Luke’s hand, and mentions that Obi-Wan never told him the truth about his father. Vader would know.

 

Not because Vader killed his father.

 

Because Vader is his father!

 

(In 1980, a young man hears all of this, and carries the trauma with him to the present day. We’ll see how he holds up in episode VII. Won’t we, Dad?)

THE SPOILER IS ENDING IN

SEVEN
SIX
FIVE
FOUR
THREE
TWO
ONE
ZERO!

Luke manages to escape by the skin of his teeth, as do Leia, Chewie, and Lando, who is now a good guy. Luke needs to repair a few wounds, and the film ends on Lando trying to find the now frozen Han Solo.

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The Force is strong with:

It’s perfect. The spiral of the prior film is intensified, and fractals of possibility emerge from the plotline, resulting in more and more spectacle, and the general improvements reinforce the whole thing.

Here’s just a few:

·         Han Solo is still on his game, and better than ever.

·         The Entire Battle of Hoth.

·         Luke’s Jedi Training.

·         The incredible things Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon do, from escaping a space worm to hiding on a Star Destroyer to surviving an Asteroid Field!

·         The Vader vs. Luke Duel.

·         The Big plot twist.

·         Finally, the fact that Lucas and his team filmed all of this, and none of it reached civilization, complete with the code name “Blue Harvest” on production crew, and only 5 people knowing about the big reveal before it hit theaters. Well done, guys!


The Dark Side lurks within:

I have next to nothing here.

No, really! My only complaint is the general issue of how absolute the Jedi are, and that is just something that’s rubbed me the wrong way since the prequels.

That’s it, dude! Nothing else to see!

The Jedi says:

To achieve a greater success, greatness is. Many strive for such to occur. Few have the focus. But this film does not try. It does, and well it does. The Force is strong here.

I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! (10 out of 10)

“What’s in the comment section?”

“Only that which you write from within you.”

Star Wars Episode 4 - A New Hope

This is what we've been waiting for in our Star Wars review project, the original trilogy! Alex has a few words for us about spoilers:

Are they really spoilers if everything on the planet has referenced them? Yes. Ten Thousand people each day experience something for the first time when told about it. So don’t ruin it for them, just pay it forward. By the way, Spoilers.

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Katie's review:

I've made no secret of the fact that the original trilogy is what Star Wars is all about for me. I was eight years old when this film was released in theaters so I grew up with Star Wars. My cousin and I would always play Star Wars when we got together. There was a playground right by my grandparent's house and we would hang out on a large wooden climbing apparatus (these were the seventies and early eighties) and he would always be Han Solo and I was always Princess Leia. Of course, we skipped any of the romantic stuff and just focused on the adventures. I didn't realize it at the time, but Leia was a different kind of princess than the usual stereotype. She was a strong and somewhat feisty heroine with a mind of her own. Cool that I had her as a role model!

I've seen this film a few times in my life, but it has been at least a decade since I sat down and watched it all the way through. It was fun to watch and it felt like reliving a bit of my childhood. Man, I've always loved Harrison Ford as Han Solo and as a grown woman, I appreciate him even more in this role. LOL! He really makes the movie with his attitude. This story is definitely a hero's journey and Luke is at the center. He's just a little too whiny at first though but thankfully, that improves as the film progresses. 

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One thing my husband pointed out to me as we watched this film is the beat up and unpolished look of the droids - especially C3PO and R2D2. He said he always love the authenticity of that touch and felt like it made it all so much more real to him. When you see them all shiny and polished at the end as a reward for their heroic efforts, it does make a great statement.

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This film created a new universe and something that has lasted and even grown with time. It's an unusual world, but very creative and entertaining. I enjoyed this movie so much this time around and I have to admit that the prequels do fit in well with the original story line overall. Still, I'm not sure I needed them.

One of the most powerful parts of this movie is the soundtrack. The music is actually quite moving and beautiful in many parts and the dark and light sides of the force are so well represented by the instrumentals. The American Film Institute's list of best film scores ranks the Star Wars soundtrack at number one. I totally agree! (wikipedia)

I give this film 9 out of 10 for my ranking. It's not perfect, but it's pretty dang close! And I totally agree with Alex on the changes Lucas made, but I'll let him tell you about that...

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Here's Alex's review:

May Four Stars Be with Us
Episode IV: A True Hope.

This is the Star Wars Film. If you wanted to know what this series was all about, look no further. That said, I only have a few problems.

Huge praise to Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan, who managed to make the most memorable mentor character in Sci-Fi. The duel between him and Vader, is OK. I guess. That’s not what we’re focusing on all movie, but it still seems a little wooden.

Also, the movie can’t make its mind up about who is the main bad guy. This isn’t a bad problem to have, I just thought it merited notice.

Finally, there are a few plot issues, which can be attributed to the early drafts of the script, and the need for a climax. That’s about it.

This film doesn’t need more stuff to review. Correction: It didn’t need more to review, then George changed the movie. Who does that? Any rate, there’s an extra section below now. 

Review of the Special Edition.
The new sequences are CGI-laden, and meant to take the film to a plot pacing more akin to modern story telling. This adds on a scene with Jabba, now in CG for your convenience, as well as several other creatures that shouldn’t be on screen. 

Most notable, however, is the Han and Greedo fight. This reviewer’s edit had them shooting at the same time. That’s not how it should be. Harrison Ford even says he shot first. End of story, na-na-na-na, hey-hey, goodbye.

(Though I laughed on hearing a Stormtrooper hit his head on the door. Classic blooper.)
The Force is strong with:
It’s perfect. The actors hit every mark in just the right way to breathe new life into characters. Harrison Ford as Han Solo stands out, as does the aforementioned Alec Guinness. To say more is to waste words. 

Here are a few of my favorites:
•    Upon hearing Han blowing smoke through his lips about the Kessel Run, and claiming a parasec is a unit of time, Obi-wan makes this face that spells out the lie Han’s trying to pull over his eyes.
•    Han’s general Sarcasm. (“What an interesting smell you’ve discovered!” in particular.)
•    Leia is the strongest female role model I have encountered. Let my Daughters be Leia, rather than Padme. Let them never be shallow clichés. 
•    The entire Attack on the Death Star sequence.
•    Vader. This is the person who stands out among the whole story as the main villain, at least as we know it.
The Dark Side lurks within:
Too many CGI Character add-ons AKA George’s attempt to shill product to a young audience.
GREEDO WAS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO DRAWING HIS BLASTER.

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Thanks. This really grinds my gears.
So the characters know they’re being tracked, and they go to the rebel base anyway. That is somewhat stupid on their end. Especially if they still go after Leia has pointed it out. Can they not lose them in a different area or something?

Jabba’s conversation with Han is not needed. Just let it be implied. That’s why you made two other movies, right?

The Jedi Says:
“This was everything we hoped it to be. With luck, its legacy will continue on for generations. May the force always be with us.” –Obi-Wan 

OUR MOMENT OF TRIUMPH (9/10)

If you comment, the recognition you’d get would be more than you’d imagine. 

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.)

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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. 

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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.

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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:

  • SERIOUSLY, WHY DOES GREVIOUS HAVE A BAG OF ORGANS IN HIS BODY?
  • 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!” 
  • OKAY, IF GREVIOUS CHOSE TO CARRY HIS ORGANS WITH HIM, HE’S STILL AN IDIOT. I GIVE UP, THIS HURTS MY BRAIN.

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.

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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

THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING! (6/10)
“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.

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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"

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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.

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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.

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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.

VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE (4 out of 10)

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! 

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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!