According to makingstarwars, they are being told that the next saga in the Star Wars universe to be set during what the studio is calling “The High Republic Era” set around 400 years before The Phantom Menace. They are also saying that it will be after the “Rule of Two” has been established by Darth Bane and that Yoda will be active as a much younger Jedi. Not only is the intention to make a new saga or possibly trilogy of movies, but more to usher in a completely new era to explore in all mediums. It appears that they intend on doing several movies in this era and possibly even television. They are also claiming that this was in fact the story that D.B Weiss and David Benioff were working on before they left.
On the surface this sounds like an excellent idea and opportunity for the studio to start in a new direction in a new sandbox. It really gives them plenty of opportunity to distance itself from the previous films they’ve released and to make their own mark in the universe. Everything about this seems to be like the best choice they could be making. I on the other hand am here to tell you that it’s a total and complete missed opportunity.
I have been an advocate for the movies to explore the old republic which based of the Expanded Universe, takes place several thousand years before the Skywalker Saga and explored the rise of the Sith including Sith armies and the creation of the Jedi order. It was an era that could be repurposed by taking notes from the expanded universe and reusing ideas to create a new era in the movie universe.
The Old Republic era was an excellent idea because it was taking place so far away from the Skywalker Saga that we wouldn’t have to worry about any of the characters being directly connected to any previous characters that we know. By that I mean that it was the best way to not feel like the studio was shoehorning in younger versions of characters just to show some kind of connected tissue. If you haven’t figured out where I’m going with this yet then here it is…Yoda. The biggest issue I have with this rumor is the timeframe and the specific inclusion of Yoda.
Now if you’ve seen The Mandalorian or even just been on any kind of social media and have seen “Baby Yoda” then you’ll know just as well as I do that he is one of the most popular decisions the studio has made in recent memory. He has quickly become one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. I bring this up because he will continue to be featured in the future season of the show and from what we can tell, it seems that we will be getting more information on the species the baby and Yoda come from and what planet they’re fun.
They seem to be spending a lot of time focusing on the species as a whole and the mystery that surrounds them. With the popularity of Baby Yoda growing, it seems that of course the studio will do anything to capitalize on that including giving us a younger version of the Yoda we all know and love.
Now I won’t say that this is something that can’t work, but it seems more reactionary to the popularity surrounding the character lately rather than taking time to distance itself from the preestablished world and characters that we have already. They have a problem with letting go of the past and looking ahead to the future. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t at some point bring in characters that we recognize like Yoda, but that starting out in an era only a few hundred years before leaves you in a weird place going into the future. If they ever decide to go back to The Old Republic than they would be continuing to go further back as a prequel of a prequel of a prequel or something like that, but if they start several thousand years before to begin with than they have all the time in the world to work their way forward to eventually connect everything.
Now, keeping all of my worries and issues with this rumor in mind, I do have a level of excitement for the simple fact that they are getting away from the majority of what we know from the Star Wars universe at this point. We will finally get to explore all new characters that for the most part have no connection to any characters that we know. With this also being a story that the creators of Game of Thrones were working on before they left and with the name of the era being called “The High Republic Era” it seems that we are getting an era with royalty or levels of loyalty that will likely mirror that of some Game of Thrones elements.
There is plenty to worry about with this direction and plenty to be excited for, but most of all we need to take this rumor with a grain of salt until its officially announced. Should this turn out to be true though, I can see it being the perfect opportunity if it is handled well and decisions made turn out to be great, but there should definitely be a certain level of caution going into this until we have more details.
Hugh answered. “She seems to be an assassin. By the look at least.” He tilted his head. He saw a knife along her thigh. It was positioned with a collection of other tools in a small bag along the same leg. When the woman noticed his gaze she covered herself.
“He is right,” she said. “You are indeed a perceptive one. Don’t have many of you working for royalty. Their too up in the kings crown trying to get a ruby out of it.” She paused to take on the confused looks. “Metaphorically.”
“Well you’re a pretty terrible assassin of you can’t open a door without making noise,” Raisor noted. The obvious thought then occurred to him. “We are not your targets here.”
“Then why all the…” Raisor waved his hand about as if that answered whatever he was trying to say.
“What are you doing? In general, and here,” Hugh best deciphered.
“Yeah, and why didn’t Hounder here get a scent on you?” The dog looked up for a moment, wagged its tail only for Colt to pet him, calming him down.
“I was hired by an advisor to the king if you can believe that. I’m not quite sure how they learned about me but that’s not here or there.” She removed her jacket and leaned against the wall closest to the door.
“We’re in the same boat, Miss…” Hugh said.
The woman let her hair down. It created a black hood around her. “My name is Evelyn Crostoff.” She crosses her arms. “I used to be a thief and smuggler. After that stopped becoming lucrative I moved on to being an assassin.”
“That’s a real lateral move,” Raisor remarked.
“I had history killing. Men mostly. Men who deserved it mostly, and boy do royal families have many men who deserve it. They piss the right person off I come in.”
“That is all well and, I don’t want to say good, but well why are you here?” Hugh asked.
“Yeah, we’re here dragon hunting!” Colt said. “That pesky knife will do nothing to a dragon’s thick hide.” He pointed to her general leg area.
“I know the layout of the castle from memory,” Evelyn said. “I worked as a handmaiden for a while. I have every cobblestone up here.” She pointed to her temple.
“Was that work before or after being a thief and assassin?” Raisor said.
“I don’t much like your snide comments.” Her hand drifted to her thigh.
Hugh stood up, creating a natural barrier between the two. “If we were all hired, killing each other is counter productive at best,” he said.
“Fair,” Raisor said. “Doesn’t explain why such a good assassin and thief can’t seem to open a door without squeaking it.”
“When I received my notice to come to the castle I made haste to get here and scope out the location. Even if the kingdom is abandoned you can never be too careful.” She took a moment and traced the three men out with her index finger. “Clearly.” She refocused. While traveling from the south I came across a platoon of soldiers.”
“That’s hardly strange considering the fighting going on down there,” Hugh interjected.
“Correct. Only they flew the colors of the opposing side. Their bright blues and yellows cut high above the trees. I stalked them for many nights until I traced their path back here.”
“That also makes sense,” Hugh said.”
“That’s what I was thinking. I had to take a divergent path to get here. Traveling by myself made it easy for me to get here before them, but they’re close.”
“Why did you come to us?” Raisor asked.
“I got here, saw that this house was taken. I decided to stop here to see who was here before heading to the castle proper, but with the storm brewing stronger, and that force coming I think I might be safer here.” Those final words stunk of someone who rarely depended on others for so much as an open door.
I never felt like there was such a Christmas crime as to release a song trailer for Justin Bieber’s new jam “Yummy.” Since I had time to prepare for this here is a special music review of the hot new song. Yay…
So as snarky as I was, I don’t necessarily hate Justin Bieber. I grew up during the hate-day of him when he was a 16 year old baby (ha pun). I didn’t like him then, and still don’t like those songs, but never hated him his stuff just wasn’t for me. As he grew into an adult I found him to be passable. He had some okay songs I’d say I’d like (I wouldn’t change the song if they came on). That’s all to say that Yummy is shockingly bad.
To be clever, this song is not yummy. To be nice I would say that it is an obvious song. To be mean (and how I feel) it is a repetitive, gross, obnoxious piece of stale taffy that was left in a pile of dried animal droppings (that might be too mean).
To be blunt it is about a woman Justin is with who just so happens to have the “Yummy.” With it being a Justin Bieber R&B song it is not subtle that “yummy” is that is it not yummy to the ears.
The beat and lyrics are repetitive. It has the same faux-tropical beat with obnoxious auto-tune singing about this girl that sounds like a mix of a clarinet and bad drum kit trying to romance a kickstand.
The song is actually about his wife and how steamy or sexy their relationship is. We’ll work with the premise that, that is a good idea and just say that it’s executed badly. He does not go in any depth about how great this woman happens to be in bed. We just get the vagueness that she has the yummy and make his toes curl, all the stuff. That is not hot. It also does not sound like the song and lyric videos think it should. It should sound like bubblegum and candy, some real Lovefool stuff. I should be wanting to pull the cotton candy out of my eardrums, not turning it off. It should not be this stale drum kit and overused tropical mix.
If we were to say this was a bad idea it is just gross. There are a lot of ways to describe sex and sexiness. This song feels like an inside joke between him and his wife that he thought would make a good song. If that joke works for them, cool. But giving it a full production and letting everyone listen to it was a mistake.
The video for this inside joke made manifest fits the song by being bad. A song about his wife is instead Justin sitting and eating food with a bunch of random people at a fancy restaurant. He also randomly does either meme dances, or dances he wants to be memes. Those always pass by so quickly it’s hard to tell. The video even does the music video sin of changing the mix to put in additional sounds and I did not mind. It’s dumb, pointless fluff that matches the song in that specific, thematic way.
This may come as a surprise, but I had to learn to love a majority (easy to say when I’m still in single digit reviews) of the songs I’ve reviewed. Most of them I thought we’re fine until I started to really dig into them. This on the other hand… yeesh! The only thing sweet or yummy about this song is that it’s like cotton candy. It has absolutely no substance, and dissolves out of your system easily. Another way to say it is that it’s completely forgettable.
What has now become my favorite movie of 2019 and one of the best movies to be released last year. The worst thing about this movie is all my fault, and that’s that I waited this long to finally get around to watching it. I have been a huge Rian Johnson fan since his first film Brick, but I found that movie after watching Looper. From that point on, I ended up being excited for everything he was making and even was a strong advocate for him when he was announced for Star Wars. I know that the film is divisive and that I may be bias for my love of his movies, but anyone who has seen what he can do it, can’t knock the quality of his movies like them or not. I knew that the reviews for this film were fantastic and I had been incredibly excited to see it after seeing the first trailer, but with how life is sometimes, I didn’t get to watch it until now. Surprisingly, there have been a lot of critically acclaimed films this year that I watched and ended up not liking at all, so I was a little worried about feeling the same towards this movie, so here’s hoping that I was wrong to feel that way.
After the controversy and toxicity in the fan base of Star Wars after his film The Last Jedi, Johnson seemed to put it all behind him and go back to his roots of telling a compelling story with great and unique characters. Knives Out does not disappoint as it brings us a classic whodunnit story about a family being investigated for the death of their father/grandfather. It’s a classic mystery that feels right from the days of Clue and various other old mystery novels. It’s a refreshing attempt at bringing a revitalized type of story to a modern time. I think one of the best parts about how Johnson went about writing this movie was that he really embraced the old classic style while also mixing it with modern day culture in an incredibly relatable way. The most obvious example of this is with the unique characters that all have their own unique personalities and looks, many of them are tied right into the old classic stereotype versions of characters in old mystery novels, but we also get some new refreshing and relatable characters. One of them is the grandson who is labeled as an alt-right internet troll who stays to himself and on his phone for the majority of the movie. The other is the granddaughter who is a built older, but is kind of your younger generation that feels entitled and as an added bonus she likes to vape.
I could take the time getting into every one of the characters and how interesting they are but for the most part I’m just going to break it down to the fact that all of the actors in this film give great performances. They all absolutely nail their roles and do enough to keep them all different from each other, and on top of that, it actually looks like they’re all having a great time. There are a few specific characters that I’d like to point out, The first being Ransom (Chris Evans). The cool thing about the Marvel movies is that it really takes up a lot of time for many of these actors to the point that we don’t get to see them do much else, so it’s always a delight to see a new smaller movie that they are a part of. In this case, Evans plays a character completely different than his Captain America role and it’s an absolute delight to see him show off his acting chops and to be the ass hole character that he is.
The next character I would like to point out is Marta (Ana De Armas) who is at the very center of this whole story. Without giving away spoilers, she is one of the most important characters in the story and helps guide as through the events alongside Blanc. She gives an innocent and fantastic performance that really does highlight her skills as an actress. On another note, she has quietly started to put together a solid resume with some bigger films coming down the pipeline for her. The other big standout is of course the man himself Daniel Craig who plays the private investigator Benoit Blanc. The biggest thing I noticed about him playing this character is not only the accent change which is an exciting and refreshing new accent than what we are used to. The closest role I’ve seen of his to the accent he pulls off in this movie is his role in Logan Lucky. He is truly the tour guide as the events and twists reveal themselves before us and he seems to be having the most fun of everyone else. Craig is a guy that I very rarely get to see in many other movies, and there’s been much talk about his disdain for wanting to play James Bond any longer and how he doesn’t seem like he’s enjoying doing it. Well in this film, it really highlights how great of an actor he is outside the role and what he’s capable of doing, while also showing that he really nails his job when he’s having fun.
Outside of the actors, the biggest element is the story and how it was written and executed. My biggest worry about a whodunnit mystery is that there would be nothing that would make it unique from any other kind of mystery. Well I can certainly say that it doesn’t give you a mystery that on the surface is any different than a typical mystery, however it’s the execution of how to tell the mystery that really separates itself from every other one. This comes not only from the writing, but also the directing by Johnson who did both. He crafted a story where he knows exactly when to release certain information and when to revel a new twist or unraveling at just the right time. This not only comes down to the directing, but also the editing. Rather than spend the time to just sit on each character one at a time to hear their versions of what happened which would have been less engaging and would likely feel slower, it instead is handled in such a way that we jump between each character’s stories as the information is being revealed. It’s an absolutely perfect handling of all aspects in film. And it’s only more satisfying with every moment where you think you know where the story is going, it twists and turns you in another direction to give you something else. The final moments of the film with the full reveal of the events and the shocking and surprisingly funny ending does nothing but place the perfect cherry on top of a beautiful bowl of ice cream. Or in this case, a perfectly made doughnut. (You will only understand this reference if you’ve seen the movie)
Rian Johnson has recently become a mainstream name among many fans of movies and he has also brought a lot of controversy with his directing and writing style that he brought to the Star Wars universe. What I like though about this film, is that he doesn’t go away from his style or what he’s always brought to his movies. He also in a way makes a statement to all fans of how good he really is doing what he knows how to do for all who doubted him. With this movie, he give what I believe to be his best work yet as a director and easily one of the best movies of 2019. It’s an absolute masterclass in filmmaking with his ability to handle every aspect of filming to craft an engaging and fun movie to watch. I wish I had waited to do my favorite of the decade list because this could have easily made the list. I think it has a great shot of being nominated for some major awards and I would definitely recommend anybody to watch this movie. It’s an absolute blast that will keep you on your toes the whole time.
I like musicals. I like movies and stories where characters express themselves through well produced, lyrically interesting, well choreographed songs. Cats the movie has none of that.
The plot, what little there is, consists of a stray, Victoria, getting introduced to a group of cats called the Jellicals (we’ll just ignore the fact we get almost nothing about them) participate in a singing competition in order to go to the Heaviside Layer (rebirth or go to heaven. It’s not clear and doesn’t matter) to get a new life.
As a singular premise is not bad. Everything else does not work at all. I mean of course the CGI is atrocious. The worst part is that they have human hands. Even as the fact Judi Dench and Ian McKellan are just cats, but their hands are just hands is truly haunting. All of the non-cat creatures were way worse however. Mice, rats, and bugs were also human people and looked unfinished, out of place, and dare-say pre-Pixar levels of bad CGI.
The music and choreography is bad. Not just the songs, but the production, mixing, and lyrics are weak. There are a few okay songs, but the fact the music itself is so quiet that you can hear the creepy, scratching, sliding, and tapping of feet on the floor is about as bad as watching a sitcom with the laugh track removed. The choreography is dreadful. It devolves into tediously long ballet that, because they look like half human/half cat hybrids, is more traumatizing than elegant. The voices themselves are also bad. So many of the vocals are mumbling, off key, misdirected, or some combination of the three; and when you’re movie is 95% singing that is a deathnail.
The worst thing however is that the movie is not worse. The beginning is quite bad. Victoria is introduced to a number of cats. All of that was near unwatchable. Rebel Wilson (of course), Jason Derulo, and James Corden’s songs were all the worst. BUT, once Judi Dench shows up it just gets boring. They stay in one location, the songs get less bad, and the little actual story that is there comes into play. Not all of the songs are good, but they are not James Corden stopping a musical number to get see-sawed up to a barrel to land on his non-existent balls and get hurt.
The most distracting is that if all of this were traditional animation it would be better. Good might be pushing it. Too many of the songs are bad, and the characters have no personality outside of their song, but it would be less horrifying (the furries would still win, but it wouldn’t be people trying to move like cats and totally failing), and it would be more creative (could do more with sets, camera work, cinematography, and scale to make shots that are impossible in live action) to get the story across.
What best illustrates my point is that after the James Corden song Victoria runs into two burglar cats who destroy houses and steal stuff. They take Victoria in and show her their ways. The song itself is bad, but the constant jump cuts to get cool shots regardless of the previous (like it’s a music video) is what kills it. A scene like this would be neat. Take a nice, methodic tour of destruction through the house until they end by tearing up the bed. It would show creativity, choreography, and care that this movie does not have. Also Rebel Wilson and James Corden making cat puns are pure torture (“don’t mess with the crazy cat lady” – actual line said before she hits herself with a chain in the face).
See it. Don’t see it. If you have the right people with you it will be enjoyable. If you see it in a crowded theater (with actual fans and kids) you will have to late till you leave and laugh at it all to have a good times, but sit in terror the physical representation of heart burn until then.
Hugh and Raisor looked at each other, but did not hear a response from the second person. Hounder they were called. When the door opened it was immediately apparent why that was. A single man stood in the open door. He had on a well worn green cloak, it looked almost black against the approaching clouds. It covered a tan colored outfit and brown boots. He had a sword on his hip, and a short bow along his back. Behind him clicked the nails of a large wolf-hound. It had vibrant, and soft gray fur with white patches. His eyes could pierce the sky, and had a hyper-active tail.
“Hello, mates!” the cloaked man said while he removed his hood. “The name is Colt, crack monster trapper. This is my best partner, Hounder.” He motioned to the dog, but he was already clicking his way around the single room house.
Raisor and Hugh greeted the man back.
Colt removed his cloak and short bow. “Is anyone using that bed there. Either of them beds there really?” Neither of the men said anything. Colt tossed his personal effects onto the bed. Hounder hopped up, circled the effects for a minute before settling down. “I’m glad we arrived when we did. That storm sure is brewing. Last time I slept in a storm of the size coming I got caught with sickness. Good thing we got a doctor here with us isn’t it.” He put a hand on Raisor’s shoulder. The other two men could not tell if he thought Raisor was the doctor, or talking to him. Regardless of what the two men thought, the tracker continued to talk. He went into detail about his previous case tracking a manticore from the high mountains, down to the coast, along a cluster of villages until he found the mage who had created him, then killed the mage.
“I also tracked a couple dragons once,” Colt said. This snapped the two men back into focus on their new friend. “How did you accomplish that?” Hugh asked.
“Did you kill it?” Raisor added.
“Unfortunately neither if you can believe it.” They could. “Anyway, I was tasked with retrieving a village’s stolen gold. Hounder here sniffed the scent to an empty cave. But in the cave was something every animal drops no matter the species. Hounder caught its scent again and followed it up to the mountains. Never caught up with it, but got the gold back. It must have dropped it when flyin around. It was in a bush I saw when trying to hunt for food for the evening.”
The house door opened again with only a light squeak. The other two men gave a strong sigh of relief and turned their attention to a woman dressed in full black, and matching black hair in a bun. She had a strong sneer that didn’t seem to match the soft and elegant complexion of her face. “Oh, hello! My name is Colt! This is my hunting dog Hounder. He’s part wolf if you couldn’t tell.” Colt got up to greet her immediately.
She accepted the handshake reluctantly. “Good to meet you. I suppose,” she said.
Raisor followed with his own social enough greeting. “So, who are you?” he asked the woman.
Raisor pushed the door open the rest of the way only to see a man sitting at a large, for the space, dining table. He had a tea cup placed in front of him, and a map of the castle beyond the cup. He wore a red vest with a long white shirt. He had thin black facial hair, and wavy black hair. Raisor sheathed his knife. “You are an incredibly trusting man,” the red-vested man said.
Raisor finished examining the room. The only things he did not observe were two beds and some storage containers. “Trusting. Not so much. I see that you do not have a weapon near your person making you the least of the immediate threats.”
The red-vested man looked around his immediate area. “You do appear to be right.” He rose and greeted Raisor. “My name is Hugh Darkflame!”
Raisor’s eyes jutted out. He broke his connection with the man and redrew his knife. “Darkflame you say. The name of a villain.”
Hugh laughed, unfazed by the brandished weapon and harsh change in tone. “It is the name of a doctor my good man.”
Raisor sheathed his weapon once again. “Doctor you say?”
“I do say.” Hugh pointed out to his carriage. “Did you not read the word printed upon my carriage?” Raisor turned to see: DR. DARKFLAME – TRAVELING DOCTOR: Here to cures what ales you.
“Right,” Raisor said. He took the open seat across from Hugh.
Hugh tilted his head and saw the ends of a scroll poking out of Raisor’s pack. “It seems you were hired similar to myself.” He motioned to the scroll placed out on the far desk. Raisor agreed. “ Hugh leaned back in his chair. “I do wonder why we are the ones who have been selected for this mission.”
“Well this cannot be all. Two people to take on a ferocious dragon. Seems hardly fair. Well, for the dragon at least.”
Hugh looked over the man in front of him. His bravado was not an obvious front. His body was open and voice strong. “I did not catch your name,” Hugh said.
“Raisor Forester. Saver of men, slayer of monster. Hero to all.”
“Ah ha!” Hugh exclaimed,”You are indeed a great hero.”
“Well of course.”
“No, no, no. I mean I have heard of your exploits. It makes perfect sense that you are the one hired to help slay the dragon.”
“Well of course!” Raisor said again. “And every quest needs a healer.” He pointed to Hugh.
There conversation was broken by the sound of clumping footsteps, and jingle of loot or maybe collar. “Right, Hounder. It does seem that a storm is approaching. The air is chilling hard,” said the voice on the other side of the door. There was a moment of silence until he spoke again. “This does seem to be the party house. Better meet our fellow guests. Be on your best behavior, Hounder,” the voice said again.
This is my first installment of my new series of posts called Director Duel where a pit the movies from two directors against each other to see who has had the better projects. This is in no way, shape, or a form a way of putting down a director who may not have the better movies, but rather a way to highlight the work from two directors and to give an insight into who they are and what they’ve done. In the Direct Duels I will be looking at not only quality of the film through scores or awards consideration, but I will also be looking at the overall audience appeal, by checking into the box office numbers. Getting right down to the numbers is one portion of it, the other portion is my personal view of each directors works and giving my opinion about each director. In the end I will determine the winner of this duel by deciding who (in my opinion) has had the better career so far and where I see them going in the future. Again this is not in any way going to put down or bash any directors, but instead be a means of highlighting the work of two directors and comparing them. I hope you enjoy!
With our first Director Duel, I’m starting with a very interesting matchup of two directors who have both only released two feature films so far, but both have plenty of experience in the industry prior to their debuts. Both of them are known for writing prior while Peele is also known most notably for his acting. Now Garland was the first to make the jump to feature film directing starting in 2014 with his feature Ex Machina and then in 2018 with his follow up Annihilation while Peele debuted in 2017 with Get Out and followed up in 2019 with Us. I’ll say that I’m surprised there was such a big gap between Garland’s two films, but I guess maybe it could be that he just wasn’t ready for a follow up at the time. Going forward he has a TV series that he has worked heavily on called Devs that will be releasing soon and Peele has yet to announce his next directing project, but has been continuing his writing on many projects. Now let’s jump into the actual analytics.
Jordan Peele (Get out, Us)
Jordan Peele coming off a career mostly revolving around comedy gave us a heavy hitting surprise with the psychological horror thriller Get Out. Now this movie garnered universal appeal as soon as it was released and continued to stay in the mainstream mind for the majority of the year and through the very end of awards season. With a budget of $4,500,000 according to Box Office Mojo, this movie gave itself plenty of opportunity to profit which it did to an astounding and surprising number of $255,413,717 at the worldwide box office. It was a major hit that nobody was prepared for, but could be traced back to its quality. According to Rottentomatoes, it has a 98% critic rating and an 86% audience rating and it received an A- Cinemascore. With fantastic ratings, it rode the wave of quality and success into awards season where it earned praise from just about every awards show including Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. It was a legitimate contender for running away with all of the categories it was nominated for, but ultimately was only able to come away with a Best Original Screenplay win for Peele. Everything about this movie was successful by no means a disappointment in any way.
His second film, Us which was released in 2019 was one of the most anticipated movies of the year going in. With the success of Get Out, we were all wondering if Jordan Peele could keep the incredible directing going and continue his success with his sophomore effort. A $20,000,000 budget was a significant increase from his previous film. It wasn’t a huge surprise given the success of his first film and it went on to gross $255,105,930 at the worldwide box office. I didn’t know the actual numbers till just now of these two films, but it’s very interesting how incredibly close these final totals were…I remember this movie not getting the same kind of buzz that Get Out received immediately following its release and it shows with the 59% audience score on RT, but it also has a 93% critic rating on the site and a B Cinemascore. It’s a pretty divided rating between critic and audience, so it clearly wasn’t as beloved as Get Out. Now I can’t say for sure what all of its final standings will be for the awards show since we haven’t had all of the awards for 2019 yet, but it doesn’t seem that it will have the same level of success as Peele’s first outing.
Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation)
Now we go into the lesser known Alex Garland and his sci-fi thriller Ex Machina. It is easily the lesser known movie of all four movies between these two directors that you could assume is because of its title and/or story. It’s not necessarily a universally appealing story for the average moviegoer so being given a $15,000,000 budget for a first time director and risky project may seem like a bit much and a little steeper in comparison to Peele’s first outing, but it’s really the $36,869,414 that it made at the worldwide box office that shows the difference between Peele’s films and this one. Given the cost of marketing, it seems unlikely that this movie made its money back and maybe cost the studio money. It did however receive a 92% critic rating and 86% audience rating on RT, so it was liked by those who saw it and was able to carry over in garnering some nominations at the Academy Awards. It received two nominations with Best Visual Effects and Best Original Screenplay. It was able to steal away the win for Best Visual Effects. You can see that it had some great success on the quality of the film, but failed at the box office.
His next film Annihilation was a movie hurt by streaming services when it was bought or picked up by Hulu. It ultimately bombed for the studio at the box office by only making $43,070,915 out of a $40,000,000 budget. This makes the first movie out of both directors that was an absolute bomb and lost the studio a lot of money when you account for marketing. It received an 88% and 66% on RT so there was a bit of a divide between critic and fans, but also a bit of a slide in both from his first film. It also received no major awards nominations and seemed to come and go with no real notice.
Now for my personal thoughts on Peele. Get Out is easily my favorite movie of these directors and for many is likely to be their favorite too. I remember watching Peele mostly on Key & Peele and was very familiar with his comedic background going before watching his first film. I was excited to see it because the trailers really gave an interesting feel of something different and unexpected from the director, but for some reason I didn’t make it around to watching it when it was in theatres. I waited until it was out on digital and disc before finally making it around to watching it. I absolutely loved it the first time I saw it and continued to love it every time after that and tried to get anyone I could to sit down and give it a chance. It even made my top ten of the decade list, so it already has a big advantage over the rest of the movies. His second film Us, was actually a bit of a disappointment. I really enjoyed the movie including the story, soundtrack, and performances but overall it was definitely a step back for the quality that was put out by Peele the first time around. I actually haven’t had a chance to get around to watching it for a second time, so I can’t say for sure if it’s any better or worse than the last time I watched it, but it really is a movie that hurts in my thinking of it because of the disappointment I had after seeing it. I think it hurts by focusing too much on trying to send a message rather than focus on the fascinating story that he comes up with. Regardless, a sophomore slump being as good as Us was, is by no means a bad thing and Peele is on the right track for becoming a phenomenal director in the coming years. I’m more eager to see his 3rd film to see if he can take some of his mistakes and better them by giving another film as good or better than Get Out.
Alex Garland as I said before is lesser known than Jordan Peele and that could be simply because of how popular Key & Peele was so it’s no knock on Garland. It does raise the question of whether or not that played a factor in each of their movies, but I highly doubt it made that big of a difference. Ex Machina was a movie that I remember hearing about on several podcasts before it was released. My biggest reason for wanting to see it at the time was that it had Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson who were both about to star in The Force Awakens. At the time I was getting my hands and eyes on anything these actors were in before Star Wars because I wasn’t very familiar with their work and who they were as actors. I ended up loving the movie a lot and the way it was directed. Unfortunately, I’ve only fund myself rewatching it on a handful of occasions. Annihilation on the other hand, was a movie I was so excited about when it was announced because of Garland’s work on Ex Machina. There’s no genre I love more than original sci-fi and when the first trailer dropped, I was instantly hooked and Annihilation became one of my most anticipated movies of that year. I may be in the minority with how much I liked it, but it definitely hit every note for me except maybe the ending. The problem with this movie comes up with the ending and how over the top it is about trying to make a message. I won’t go into it too much here, but the ending was something I tried to understand the first time I watched but ended up having to go to Google to see exactly what I missed. Both of these movies are very good and enjoyable in my opinion, but also aren’t the easiest to watch over and over again and don’t seem as appealing to the mainstream audience which could be why they ultimately failed at the box office.
Both of these directors have given us absolute quality of movies over the last several years. I would say two of these movies may be included in some best of the decade lists with Ex Machina and Get Out. Now I picked these two directors to go up against each other because of how similar I saw their careers from a certain sense. I really do think that Peele may have had a slight edge with a lot of people knowing who he was prior to him switching to directing feature films, but I don’t think it was that big a factor. They both had incredible directorial debuts that garnered them an Oscar each. I would say that Get Out was definitely more successful in the end due to the amount of money it made and that it was nominated for more awards including Best Picture and Best Director. The comparison between each of their sophomore projects is a bit closer than you may think. I’m sure many people would pick Us over Annihilation, and I think that comes down to the actual appeal of the story being told. I think going based on quality, both of these films are on par with each other with Annihilation actually having the better audience rating. I do think that in the years to come, Us will be the more remembered film and may even get better as time goes on, but I believe Annihilation is the better film overall that only hurts from its not so easy to understand ending. This is such a close comparison that it’s incredibly hard to determine who had the better year.
I think Peele needs to really take a step back from trying to focus so much on sending a message, while also keeping what made Get Out so good. It’s about the subtleties of the message you’re trying to get across and his second film was not as subtle as his first. Any of these directors you could say you would love to see them direct a big franchise film, but I don’t think either one of these two should make that jump yet. I think Peele should stick with what he’s been doing because he’s proven he can win at the box office. Garland has had two excellent films that have been completely unique and standout from many of the other films that were released in the their respective years. The problem is just universal appeal and failure at the box office. I’m not saying that you can’t do something so different, but with his new show coming out that seems to be in line with his previous projects, it seems that TV might be the space for him and his wild ideas. I still want to see him do another feature film, but I’d like him to step out a little and do something a little more mainstream while still keeping that unique vibe and story that you got with his other two movies. In the end, the directors are both excellent directors who both have the potential to become true powerhouse names in the industry. They both have very good chances of becoming names that we see frequently during the Oscars, but it’s going to take just a little refocusing to get back to what they were able to give us with their first films. I’m very excited to see what they have in store for us going into the new decade.
Winner: Jordan Peele
I picked him to win by the slimmest of margins. It came down to box office success and how much more praise Get Out received. I also picked him because personally I think Get Out is overall the better movie of the bunch and easily the most rewatchable.
I hope you all enjoyed this first installment of Director Duel! If you have any suggestions or matchups you’d like to see, just let me know!
Having completed my review of all of the live action Star Wars films, I finally had an opportunity to sit down and figure out where I would rank them all in my own personal favorites list. Ranking the Star Wars movies is always controversial because of course everyone has their own version of this list. It’s especially controversial for many if you don’t automatically put the original trilogy above everything else. While I respect that those are the highest regarded films in the series, this is my own personal list of how they affect me. This is my way of looking at how much I enjoyed each one compared to the others. Now you may look at my reviews and say “well this one has a better grade than this other one so why is it ranked lower?” Simply put, my reviews are more of an attention to quality rather than attention to enjoyment so some may be ranked higher or lower. Regardless, I’m here to close out these Star Wars reviews with my ranking of all 11 live action movies in this galaxy far far away.
11. The Phantom Menace
This movie as I said in my review was the least necessary movie in the whole series of the Skywalker saga. It gives us the origin of Anakin but takes place several years before the next two movies making it something that just doesn’t really connect or feel needed. It’s more a movie about Qui-Gon with nothing in it really having an overall effect on the movies that followed. It has its highlight moments like the pod race and the final lightsaber duel, but for the most part this movie is just a forgettable entry that you can pretty much skip over when rewatching the series. It’s also my least favorite of the prequel movies not only from an enjoyment factor but also from a perspective of quality. Everything that was wrong with this movie seemed to have been corrected in the next ones. I’m not saying that everything was corrected with great execution but it felt like even George knew that he made many mistakes with it. There’s a good movie in here somewhere but again it’s a good movie that sets up an entirely different trilogy. If you had kept Qui-Gon and Darth Maul you almost could of had this be a prequel to the prequels. That may be getting in to deep with what could have been but either way, this is my least favorite of all of the movies.
There’s a lot more fan service moments in Attack of the Clones that makes it a more enjoyable time than The Phantom Menace. Although it fails on delivering on its title and has some of the worst dialogue moments, it still has some moments that are absolutely a delight to see on screen. It has an interesting story for Obi-Wan that scratches the surface of being a great investigative story, but loses its way by not focusing on it enough. It’s jumps back and forth between this investigation and an absolutely boring and meaningless story for who our trilogy is supposed to be about. There are points in this movie where you realize that maybe the focus of the whole trilogy should have been on Obi-Wan but of course the creative control George had really sent it off into a disappointing direction. What makes up for it’s failures are the awesome Jedi moments like the coliseum fight. In the end it’s more of a disappointing entry as it fails to live up to all of the moments that could have been. This is the second worst movie on a quality standpoint also so it lines up pretty well with my initial reviews.
This will probably be the most controversy I will receive for my list. I may be one of the few people that puts this movie as low as I do and I know some people consider it to be their favorite of all of them, but the majority of the movie is some of the least enjoyable Star Wars for me personally. Everything that happens up until Luke going back to Yoda and the final fight between him and Vader and the space battle is all just a dropped ball. Coming off of Empire you would think the momentum would keep going but instead it gives us a convoluted plan that really just doesn’t work for me. It all seems like a poorly paced movie that tries to continue the story we were left off with before and it drops the ball. I know I’m in the minority but every time I watch this movie I find myself just waiting for things to get interesting. I won’t lie though, there are some good moments and details that take place through this but I just can’t find myself to enjoy it as a whole like I do with some of these other movies. On a quality standpoint I have many issues with it, but I do recognize that it has an upper hand against some of the other entries higher on my list and I recognize that for the most part it’s beloved, but ultimately it may be my least favorite in the whole series to rewatch.
I really wanted to put this movie up higher on the list because I really did have a blast with it. The best thing about it is that it’s the least consequential movie in the series. It really does just feel like a one off story in a serialized Star Wars show giving us a great adventure with a character we all know and love. What brings it down for me though is that there were a lot of moments that I didn’t think were necessary and we could have done without and the ending really sets up something a bigger story that should never have been brought in. That ending really turns this movie into something that it’s not and takes the overall focus away from it and pushes it towards something else entirely. Aside from those issues, it really had some great characters and some great performances. Even though Alden wasn’t exactly the same Han Solo as Harrison Ford, he really does give us a version of the character that is entertaining and fun to watch on screen. I think this movie gets way too much crap, but it sits this low for being a movie that’s just a good movie. It makes me wonder if it would’ve been better to give us this adventure with just a new character set in the Star Wars universe or maybe just make this as a TV series instead. Regardless, it has technical issues but is definitely a fun adventure and worth a rewatch if you weren’t sure how you felt about it the first time.
The best of the prequel movies is also a favorite among younger fans of the series. For the generation that grew up with the prequels in theatres, this tends to be the most liked of the prequels and one of their favorites. Not everyone sees it from this point of view but I know so many that love this movie. For me it was the first Star Wars movie that I saw in theatres and was one of my best experiences as a kid. While it does have some issues like the actual handling of the fall of Anakin, it does make up for a lot of issues that the first two movies had. It gives us one of the best opening scenes in all of Star Wars and has some of the best lightsaber moments. The absolute highlight is the duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin on the lava planet Mustafar. While it is very much an obvious choreographed fight sequence. The raw emotion and meaning behind the fight holds enough weight to make it an engaging fight that serves more purpose than any other duel in the prequels. It is one of the most rewatchable movies in the series for myself, but again on a technical aspect it’s not the best movie made. The biggest issue I have is the handling of Anakin’s fall and how I just wish it was executed so much better. It may not be as high on other lists but overall it’s an enjoyable film.
This was the toughest movie to rank for my list. Honestly I think this and Revenge of the Sith are tied for the same spot. The reason I put this one a little bit higher is that it has more moments that had me invested because of the quality of the movies that preceded it. This is a movie that hurts from its execution and is overall a disappointment for me. It doesn’t give itself time to actually breathe, and that’s because of how much action is in this movie. The redeeming part that keeps it placed where it is despite these issues is that the action is incredibly entertaining. While I don’t agree with some of the decisions that were made, it certainly kept my attention glued to the screen and on the edge of my seat for what was going to happen next. It has one of the coolest shot fuels of all of the movies being Rey vs Kylo on the Death Star in the ocean and gives us a turn in Kylo that I like but don’t necessarily agree with the execution of how they went about doing it. In time this may move higher or lower but only time will tell. For now I feel comfortable placing it here for how exciting and action packed it is.
One could argue that this is the best crafted movie and the highest quality one on a technical standpoint. I do give it props for what it was able to achieve and the world it created. With that said, it isn’t the easiest movie to rewatch and suffers from the time it was made. It does a fantastic job of setting up this incredible universe and giving us some of the most iconic characters of all time but really lacks in being able to rewatch as much as some others. I know many people that don’t like it because of how much slower it seems in comparison to the others, but that could be from lack of respecting the time it was made. I love everything about this movie and on a quality perspective it would be near the top of the list but for my personal list it lands here for not giving me the same exciting feeling that the next ones on the list do. We wouldn’t have what we do now if it weren’t for this movie.
This was the first movie in the new Disney owned Lucasfilm and was one of the most hyped movies for fans in history. It was well received and gave us plenty of new characters and setup along with bringing back some old favorites. This movie is one of the most rewatchable ones for me and is also what I believe the best entry point for anyone new coming into the franchise. That may be a bit controversial but seeing as how it plays it safe with the story it tells while introducing new characters, it still manages to tell a story that keeps just about anyone on board and excited to see more of what this world has to offer. It introduces a fantastic new protagonist in Rey and give us what may be my favorite character in all of the movies with Kylo Ren. It gives us characters with different arcs and origins than any of the other characters in the series and keeps the fun and exciting adventure feel that the original movies had. It isn’t my favorite but it definitely is one of the most enjoyable ones for me to go back to and watch over and over again. It has its issues but for the most part there’s nothing that really stands out as tarnishing how much fun this movie really is at its core.
This stands to me as being the most underrated movie in the whole franchise and depending on when you ask me will change from 3 to 2 as being my favorite Star Wars movie. This is a movie that leads into the original film that started it all and gives us a story that we maybe didn’t want or think could work but it does. While it is a prequel to A New Hope, it does stand on its own and separate itself by being a completely different movie than the saga films. It has some issues of course like every movie does, but for me it tells a compelling story that is engaging and emotional. It has by far some of the best perspective visuals of any movie in the franchise and an ending that is a non stop blast. I think what I like most about this is that it gives us a group of characters that come together to do one thing despite the consequences. It’s a movie that actually has severe consequences for the mission at hand and doesn’t try to be anything that it’s not. I think I’ve rewatched this movie the most because of how standalone it feels even while also being very much connected. I won’t argue with anyone that has issues with it but I really do just absolutely love this movie.
As I said in my review, this is the most divisive movie in all of Star Wars and one of the most divisive movies ever. For many people it’ll either be near the top or near the bottom and for me it’s right up here in second place. Despite having some truly prequel-like issues like the whole Finn and Rose plot, something that seems to be the biggest complaint among fans, it also has some of the best moments in all of Star Wars. When I talked about The Rise of Skywalker I said that it didn’t give itself time to breathe. That was a reaction to the fact that this movie really gives itself all the time in the world to breathe and flesh out character arcs and moments. It’s a very different movie that subverts our expectations in a way that ultimately divided fans. Rian Johnson wanted to test the audience and give us something that we weren’t expecting and what was going to actually challenge us as viewers. For me, that’s exactly what I want. I don’t want a movie that’s going to veer too far off the path of what a Star Wars movie should, but I want one that’s going to give me something new and The Last Jedi did just that. It fleshes out our hero and villain and uses a new concept in the movies to give them time to grow with each other while also giving us some of the best Jedi and lightsaber moments in the whole series. Despite the issues it has, this is easily my favorite movie since The Empire Strikes Back.
This has been my favorite movie in the whole series for the longest time and my second favorite movie of all time. This movie tops many lists for fans and rightfully so. For many of the other movies there’s been a bit of a difference between enjoying the movies vs the actual quality of the movies and this one hits the top spot for both of those factors. It takes everything that was given to us in A New Hope and builds on that in such a way that makes it the best story and most compelling story in the whole franchise. We get moments where the lore of the Jedi and force are built on, we get fantastic character development that ends with totally different and fleshed out versions of the characters we started with, and it gives us what is my favorite lightsaber duel of the whole series between Luke and Vader. While it doesn’t have the same exciting punch that some of the newer movies have throughout the whole film, it does feel very similar to The Last Jedi where it actually takes the time to let itself breathe and give us moments of perfection. While I don’t watch this movie as much as some of the other films, it is and will probably be for a long time my favorite Star Wars film.
In the end, this is my official and personal ranking of all of the Star Wars films. It’s a list that will not agree with everyone of course and will spark some sort of debate because you can never please everyone, but it’s a list that comes from my personal viewing of all the films. There’s no better way to go about ending a review of a series than to rank them all as far as pure enjoyment goes. Some of the movies on the list could potentially change their placement as we move ahead and receive new movies in the franchise. The point of a list like this is really to just highlight a franchise that I love and to share with other fans how I feel towards each of the movies. I hope that it sparks a friendly discussion among readers that allows us to talk about and compare all of our lists. Star Wars is probably my favorite franchise of all time and I like all of the movies in it despite the rankings. Feel free to comment and discuss your own lists, I’m always excited to see how everyone feels about each movie.
Raisor Forester was approached by the first of the king’s advisors after slaying the giant terrorizing the village of Kurst. The advisor found Raisor Forester removing his two swords from the feld giant cranium. Raisor wiped the alternately colored blood on his pant leg then sheathed the swords. Raisor saw the advisor ducking and trying to hide from him. “Come out, my friend,” Raisor called out. Raisor then removed his daggers from the giant’s back. Cleaned them similarly to the swords and placed them in the sheath along his thighs. “I will not hurt you. Unless you are a creature, or I was hired to do so. However, you do not have the gait of a man I would kill.”
The advisor stepped sheepishly away from the rockface and out to Raisor. The advisor agreed that he was not here to fight, only to give him a message. He explained that the king has requested that the greatest heroes in the land come together to face the best quest a hero could ask for: to slay a dragon and free the kingdom.
Raisor kicked dirt and rock around in contemplation. He looked at the feld giant, dug into the giant’s purse and removed a handful of engraved diamonds. He pocketed a couple while placing the rest onto a pack sat between his blades. “I do very much like that proposition.” He dug back into the pack and removed a sick of cured meat. “Doing good is something I value. I do value other things if you had not noticed.” He took a bite to satiate his hunger and emphasize his point.
The advisor said that he would be paid a competitive rate, with an additional bonus if he completed a secondary task for the king. The advisor brandished a scroll from his woven pouch with the appropriate information on in.
Raisor accepted the scroll. A broad smile grew across his face! He followed the smile with a strong nod and additional bite of the cured meat. He accepted the job.
The other heroes were greeted and met with similarly cryptic but lucrative deals. The scroll they were given provided a date they had to make it to the now charred and destroyed capital city. Raisor made the decision that he would be the first to arrive.
When the date eventually arrived he was not the first to reach the capital city. He was second. He cursed himself for stopping the horde of goblins from ransacking a town along the mountains outside of Kurst. He entered the gate outside the capital city and saw a pair of horse tracks, along with wheel marks cut freshly into the ground. The path made a winding and scenic route exploring the mostly charred, ramshackled, and just utterly destroyed town.
A cool wind blew itself across his arms. Raisor looked up and saw the approaching clouds of a storm coming. He then felt a jerk forward as his steed stopped behind a wood and lacquer carriage with dust caked wheels and two horses. Raisor moved his gaze from the horse and buggy to the house they were parked in front of. It was of a medium size in comparison to the other houses surrounding them.
Raisor tied his horse to the wooden post planted in front of the house, drew his knife and approached the door for the far side. He placed the blade downward and cracked the door open. He only saw a desk with a freshly lit candle and scroll similar to what he had been given by the advisor who visited him. He cracked the door further and saw a kettle settling on a stove top with steam escaping the lid. He cracked further only to hear a voice call out to him. “You can just come in! From your approach and dress you seem to be similarly hired to slay this dragon same as I am so there’s no need for your cloak and daggering.”