All posts by Cameron

Cameron is a mild mannered history teacher by day and aspiring writer by night. He has a feature length screenplay under his belt and is working on #2. Besides writing he enjoys being a husband, father and weekend warrior surfer when he finds the time.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

 

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!

 

It’s been a long 2 years since the release of JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens hit theaters and reinvigorated the slight tarnish on the Star Wars franchise at the time. Rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly) the prequels left a bad CGI taste in many fans mouths as they failed to deliver on the massive heights of the original trilogy. Looking back almost twenty years after the Phantom Menace (yes it’s been that long) the thought that any new set of films could top the iconic characters and movie moments of the original 3 films seems nearly impossible. Which was all the more astonishing when The Force Awakens dropped and for the first time in what seemed like a long time ago actually felt like a proper Star Wars film.

Yes it’s tremendous success came largely at the expense of playing its safe with close homages to what fans have always loved about the originals. Swashbuckling action, characters we could emotionally invest in and root for, wonderful special effects and it’s ace in the hole, it was FUN. I loved everything about The Force Awakens when it came out as it hit all the right nostalgic nerves while taking the franchise in a seemingly new direction. When the film was over I genuinely wanted to see what came next for Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, The Resistance, the First Order, and of course the long lost now found Luke Skywalker  Who the hell was Snoke? And of course, just who are Rey’s parents?

After The Last Jedi, I’m still waiting to find out.

Don’t get me wrong, I was beyond hyped when the first trailer for The Last Jedi hit the internet last year. The release of a new Star Wars trailer is like a mini Christmas for me as I unpack the trailers to glean every speck of detail and story from each frame as possible. This new film had new A-wings (my favorite ship!), a massive space battle, Rey kung fu Jedi training and an ominous Luke foreshadowing the end of the Jedi order. It looked great and I ready to jump on the hyperspace hype train all over again.

But I didn’t . News started getting out from directer Riam Johnson and even Mark Hamill himself that in order to preserve the story of the Last Jedi it was best to stay from the trailers as much as possible. It hurt, and it was difficult but I headed master Skywalkers words and decided that for this film, I would put myself into exile from the galaxy I loved and walk into the new film totally unspoiled. The first trailer laid subtle hints that something might be off about Luke and if he did turn to the dark side I didn’t want to see it coming. Or Rey, maybe she would go bad this time around. In my mind, anything could happen and I wanted to keep it that way. So with more willpower than I knew I had I sat down to watch The Last Jedi ready to be blown away.

The Force Awakens Pt. 2

About the only I did know about the Last Jedi was that it supposedly picked up right after the cliffhanger ending of the Force Awakens. It almost had to with the way Episode VII’s last shot of a awe-struck Rey handing Anakin’s old blue lightsaber to it’s rightful owner. And in that scene lies The Last Jedi’s critical flaw. It is in every way a continuation and carry over from the Force Awakens.

Say what you will about the prequels but at the very least they advanced the franchise’s story along. I was hoping The Last Jedi would pick up on that scene along the seaside cliffs of Ach-To then jump forward a few months or a year in time to see how the story moved forward. The Last Jedi doesn’t do this and instead takes place within the span of a full 72 hours after Force Awakens. Such a self inflicted time restraint really puts a damper on the plot as only so much can happen and change within 3 days of story.

And at the end of the Last Jedi hardly anything has changed from the end of The Force Awakens. Rey is still not a Jedi. Luke Skywalker is still pretty much absent. Kylo Ren still has a lot of growing up to do if he wishes to become Darth Vader, the First Order is again heavily devastated having taken major loses , and the Resistance is barely eeking out victories. If nothing much happens I ask then, what was the point of the movie? Main Star Wars films don’t come around that often (yet) and when we get an official episode it’s expected big things are in store. Instead with the Last Jedi we get a small after story better suited dare I say not for a comic book or video game. Not a full blown movie.

The film opens up with the Resistance in what could have been a desperate attempt to flee from their hidden base as the First Order, pissed at the loss of StarKiller Base, a MAJOR and recent event only mentioned once in the film, Seeing the rag tag members of the Resistance scramble to evacuate as the First Order bears down on them would have been a great way to reset the stakes and set the tone for the film. Instead we get the exac nearly completed and hotshot X-wing pilot Poe single handily jousting a Star Destroyer while cracking wise. It’s ok but could have been better. There is probably 40 seconds of a disappointing space battle that follows and the Resistance hyperspaces away to fight another day.

Or so it seems as the First Order has developed a way to track the Rebel fleet through hyperspace and catches them shortly after unable to fight back or run away for fear of being tracked down again then annihilated. How will the Resistance ever get out of this jam you may wonder? Easy, they fly away from the First Order fleet at a speed just fast enough to stay out of weapon range but too slow to break away with only the 72 hours of fuel they have left to find a way out. Putting a time constraint in a film is a cheap way to add tension but putting every action against a clock of dwindling urgency. But here it does the opposite by bogging the movie down into an extended and boringly drawn out slow motion chase scene. It can work well when done right, like in 2003’s underrated Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World but in the action packed Star Wars universe it doesn’t translate well.

Given the setup this could have been the Resistance’s version of Dunkirk.  Instead I’m convinced the only reason the chase was contrived was to fill up the middle of the movie with a pointless and convoluted sequence of hoops for Finn and new hero Rose to jump through and hence, something to do. It’s not worth mentioning in any detail suffice to say 30 nearly minutes is wasted sneaking onto a Monte Carloesque casino planet to find some renowned code breaker (so important I don’t think he is ever even given a name) so Finn can then sneak onto the First Order flagship to deactivate the homing tracker and allow the Resistance to escape. Problem is it’s all 100% pointless as the disarming of the tracker never happens and all that screen time was spent on nothing of consequence for the movie. Actually, this might be the most fitting part of The Last Jedi after all now that I think of it.

More time should have been spent with Rey squeezing some lesson out of old man and the sea Luke Skywalker. Like Harrison Ford’s Hand Solo in The Force Awakens, Mark Hammil is a welcome sight for fans as an older crustier version of Luke that still feels right. Luke’s crisis of Jedi faith is a plot point Hammil resisted at first but works here because it’s uncharted territory for the series and we want to see what it takes to break Luke to the brink and bring him back.

To the film’s credit, at the point where things begin to seem to drag on and become predictable the 2nd half of the 2nd act really kicks the legs out and goes headfirst into all sorts of crazy directions. Yoda makes a fun cameo, Snoke pulls a Darth Maul, Rey and Kylo have a super hero team up, the Resistance’s non-plan of escape was a plan all along, we watch the Battle of Hoth 2.0 and Luke does some Jedi stuff. This is when the movie goes fully off it’s well established rails and is at it’s most Star Wars like fun. Had the first half been more like the 2nd I’d be writing a much different review right now.

But good things aren’t meant to last and when the credits roll for The Last Jedi hardly anything has changed to our characters or the state of the universe. Because of this I have a feeling that when JJ Abrams comes back to helm Episode IX it will be more of a sequel to VII than VIII as there is simply more to work with from that film.

The Balance in the Force

That’s not to say I hated everything about the new film. Certain scenes are shot beautifully with the salt encrusted red dust last battle of Crait looking beautiful and fantastic. The penguin like Porgs that seem to have nested on the Millennium Falcon are scene stealers and the fight/duel with Rey and Kylo Ren in Snoke’s throne room was something I didn’t expect to see.

Other random thoughts I had while watching the movie.

  • The cartoonish banter between Poe and Hux in the first scene was cringe worthy and has no place in a Star Wars film, unless it was a call back to some of the slapstick of the prequels. In which case I again say it has no place in a Star Wars film.
  • Hooray for new A- wings! (my fav ship!)
  • Boo they only get 10 seconds of screen time
  • You’d think a big slow bomber crammed full of over-sized thermal detonators would come equipped with shields but no, those things light up like roman candles.
  • Why the First Order refuses to overwhelm enemies with it’s TIE fighters boggles my mind. They literally send just 3 to attack the Rebel cruiser at the beginning. But hey the Resistance just sent Poe by himself to do the same.
  • Also, why can’t the First Order just hyperspace it’s fleet just ahead of the Resistance and blow it up from the front?
  • At the same time, if the Resistance’s goal was always Crait, why did they exit hyperspace 3 days way from the planet?
  • How does Poe or Finn know how to get in contact with Maz Kanata considering Finn just met her days ago and Poe never has?
  • Those gamblers in the casino sure took the news of the destruction of the New Republic and First Order’s Starkiller base pretty well considering they both were likely major customers of their weapons and all.
  • Snoke was kinda growing on me until he, well you know.
  • Oh cool, Phasma is back! Until she well, you know.
  • Why does Yoda just show up now to bust Luke’s chops when he had 30 years after Jedi to jump in and give advice?
  • This is a Star Wars movie right? So where are all the Wookies, and Bith, and Greedo’s and Twi’leks?
  • The Falcon at Crait brought the biggest smile of the movie to me.
  • Why did they feel the need to sadistically whittle the Resistance down to just a handful of survivors at the end? Reborn?  No, I’d say more like on the verge of extinction.
  • Luke’s finale was fitting and considering Carrie Fisher’s recent passing, the franchise is entirely in the hands of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Issac. I really do wish these 3 and their characters got developed more.

The Last Jedi certainty isn’t the worst Star Wars movie but it’s no Empire, or even Force Awakens. It’s “just” a Star Wars movie and sadly I’ll have to wait yet another 2 years to see what finally happened next after the events of my beloved Episode VII.

Fittingly, there is a scene towards the end of the film where the Resistance, in a last ditch attempt at rescue, send out a distress signal to their friends waiting on the fringes of the galaxy for help. To their dismay, nobody answers it. Nobody comes. I guess they also are waiting to see what happens next as well.

The Impact of Superheros

Fan or not, nobody can deny the intergalactic pull of superheroes and their accompanying merchandise; they’re like a beacon calling to the masses to watch, play, and dress in order to express their love or even disdain for a specific set of characters. One of the most recent episodes of this being upon the release of Deadpool, one of the most hotly anticipated superhero films in years. Even people who’d never even heard of the merc with the mouth, flocked to their nearest cinema to watch his foul mouthed adventures, therefore once again securing superheroes as gods of the box office.

As with all fandoms, some characters surpass others, and within the world of superheroes one of these great individuals is Bruce Wayne, or Batman to the rest of the general public. Out of all the names that pop up in the DC universe, his is the most common and the most popular, and as such an enormous amount of products have been generated in his honor. Arguably, out of all the items you can add to your collection of ‘I love Batman’, the most accessible for all types of fans are the games he has inspired. And there is literally no end, even when the story is based on another hero he still manages to make an appearance in one way or another.

By choosing to have Batman across multiple platforms, users can decide whether they want to enjoy the Dark Knight slot at Betway, or whether they want to experience a more story led title like Batman: Arkham Asylum from Eidos Interactive. As always, there are various benefits to each of them, but when it comes down to it they all do one thing: demonstrate just how much superheroes have impacted on our everyday experiences. In fact, characters like this can be so profound that they break records with every successive release, as audiences experienced when they watched Batman Vs Superman. Good though it was, it was by no means the most classic rendition of these two superhero giants, and yet it had the biggest opening night of any hero title to this date.

There is no end of circulation of superhero news, which means you can never fully be removed from the hype that they inspire in the masses; from what we’ve seen over the generations, superheroes like Batman are likely to be dominating the industry for a great many decades to come yet.

Should Angelina Jolie Really Play Cleopatra?

Should Angelina Jolie Really Play Cleopatra?

If this sounds like a familiar story, it’s probably because you heard it a few years ago. Before the infamous “Sony Hack” incident, Angelina Jolie was firmly attached to a “Cleopatra” project to be produced by Scott Rudin. However, disputes over the script and who would direct held the project up, and when a rift between Jolie and Rudin was revealed by the hack everything seemed to go off the rails.

Now, however, a report by Deadline indicates that the film is back on the slate at Sony. Jolie will get to do her passion project after all, though the script is being re-worked and it’ll likely be a while before we see the film’s release. In the meantime, it’s worth asking: should Angelina Jolie really be the one to play the Egyptian queen? There’s no correct answer of course, but your view on the matter might depend on how, exactly, you view this very real character from history.

On the one hand, we have the most modern interpretations of Cleopatra, which seem to be where the idea of casting Jolie probably comes from. The only real “appearance” of the character in 21st century entertainment or pop culture is a game featured at Gala’s bingo platform. One of several themed jackpots sprinkled in among the bingo rooms, the game depicts the Egyptian queen as a striking figure with piercing, smoky eyes. Indeed, the game’s description even calls her “the seductive Cleopatra” and warns that she’ll “keep you spellbound.” It almost looks as if it was designed with Angelina Jolie in mind.

The most recent film bringing Cleopatra to life, meanwhile, was the 1963 project that starred the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor in the role. The film went with a similar image to that of the modern game, portraying Cleopatra as the picture of beauty and glamor. Again, this fits with a lot of moviegoers’ impressions of Angelina Jolie, and indeed Jolie has even sometimes been described as something of a modern day Taylor. For her part, for what it’s worth, Jolie was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter as saying her Cleopatra performance would never be as lovely as Taylor’s was.

But lovely or not, are takes like these missing the point about Cleopatra? As you may have heard before if you have an interest in ancient history, there’s actually quite a bit of evidence to suggest that the real Cleopatra wasn’t known for her beauty. Granted, beauty is subjective, and it’s no one’s job to compare the looks of a modern actress to an ancient queen. But if accuracy is a concern for the studio (and it’s usually not with regard to historical epics), someone a little less exotic might actually be a better fit.

A post by Pattaya Today actually delved into this topic some time ago and pointed to even more examples of Cleopatra depictions that were likely inaccurate. The article notes that archaeological evidence suggests Cleopatra was a less beautiful figure by conventional standards; coins that were in circulation during her reign show here with a hooked nose, for instance. Furthermore, the queen actually had Greek lineage rather than Egyptian. That doesn’t impact how beautiful one might imagine her to be, but the smoky eyes and pen-thin eyebrows etc. tend to go with our stereotypical image of the exotic ancient Egyptian.

There’s also the argument that perhaps it doesn’t particularly matter. A figure like Cleopatra is almost more like a character from literature than one from history at this point, as she’s been written about, depicted, and generally fictionalized so many times. The main goal from the studio’s perspective is to make this an entertaining (and profitable) film. And if Jolie has passion for the project, who could blame her? Any prominent modern actress would probably kill for the chance to take on an Elizabeth Taylor role, let alone a biopic for one of history’s most famous women.

Ultimately, where accuracy is concerned this looks like another ancient world misstep for Hollywood. But that’s not to say it can’t wind up being a good film.

Wonder Woman’s Evolution Through The Ages

Wonder Woman’s Evolution Through The Ages

With the long awaited Batman vs. Superman coming out in theaters soon it’s easy to forget the film also gives us our first big screen look at a certain special Amazon warrior. Unfortunately, “Batman vs. Superman vs. Wonder Woman” isn’t the catchiest of titles.

Now that, Princess Diana finally getting her modern big screen debut, it’s interesting to take a look back at the character’s evolution through the years. Especially considering how drastically woman’s roles have changed throughout society since Wonder Woman’s debut back in 1941.

What’s your favorite version of Wonder Woman?

The Evolution of Wonder Woman
Image Created by HalloweenCostumes.com

Movies and The Video Games They Inspire

Why Watch a Movie When You Can Play It?

Movies are one of the most popular forms of entertainment. They are watched every day by millions of people all over the the world who want to experience an engaging and fun story that are often based on books, comics and even video games. Sometimes, the adaption can work the other way and games can be created that are based on movies.

Some genres lend themselves best to gaming adaptions. Action movies are full of thrills and suspense, fast-paced drama and exciting scenes. Sci-fi and fantasy movies have unique settings, interesting characters, visual appeal and magic that you cannot experience in this world.

Wanting to be in a film or a part of it is something we’ve all felt. Luckily, that’s what video games are for. With a PC or console you can easily jump into any action-heavy film. Lord of the Rings, James Bond, Ghostbusters, Aliens, Predator and Star Wars are just some of the franchises with multiple games based on them. It’s common to see a game released alongside a major adventure action film as it is an easy tie-in. While not always of the greatest quality, movie-based video games let people of any age become their favorite film character and experience the adventure and challenges their way.

Girl_plays_Pac_Man

Before video games, it was common to see major movies turned into pinball machines. This has evolved over time and now your favorite games will include familiar films and their characters.

Much was made of the Arkham Knight game for the PS4 last year, but The Dark Knight Rises is just one example of a movie gaming title at Royal Vegas Casino that provides a range of slots based on existing movie franchises with others including Jurassic Park and Terminator.

Adding popular movie series’ motifs to casino games attracts people acquainted with the movies, as the game becomes so more exhilarating if you aren’t just winning money, but saving Gotham City or escaping a Terminator.

Vegas_slots

Board games based of popular movies aren’t a new idea and odds are if you can name a high- grossing action, sci-fi or fantasy film, it’s has board game based on it. Escape from New York, Dune, A Bridge Too Far, Blade Runner, Jaws, Scream and Star Wars are just a few of the examples. And the boardgame titan Monopoly has made significant adaptations of many movie themes in its acclaimed series of games.

monopoly

Whatever your favorite adventure film is, it can be experienced with Monopoly’s adaptions of popular movies, EA’s Star Wars games or Royal Vegas Casino’s licensed slots So there has certainly never been more ways of enjoying a film without having ever seen it!

 

First Star Wars Episode VIII Footage Has Arrived!

The First Star Wars Episode VIII Footage Is Here!

Well, that was fast.

Less than a month into production and the first Star Wars Episode VIII footage has already hit the internet.

The snippet of a teaser hardly shows anything new, but it’s nice to see that Luke already has more screen time in the preview than he did in all of The Force Awakens.

It appears the film will begin immediately where Episode VII left off, with Daisy Riddley’s Rey offering Luke’s old lightsaber he lost on Bespin, minus the missing hand, to an old and recluse hermit looking Luke. After the shot we pull back to see new franchise director Rian Johnson behind the camera to welcome everybody to what appears to be the first day of filming.

Although the clip is nothing earth shattering, it’s nice to see a little tidbit of the new film so early into the filming process. Just to remind everybody that Episode VIII is well on it’s way,or maybe as cover to take attention off of the upcoming Star Wars: Rouge One which is also currently filming but has been so shrouded in secrecy that very little photos or footage of the film have made it’s way onto the internet yet, despite the fact the film is due out next year, December 16th, 2016.

Star Wars; Episodde VIII stars Daisy Riddley,John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis.

New cast members include Benicio Del Torro and Laura Dern in as yet, unnamed roles.

Star Wars: Epsiode VIII is scheduled to release on Dec 17, 2017.

Dawn of the Justice League Revealed

Finally! Dawn of the Justice League Revealed

It’s been a long time coming, but Warner Brothers finally revealed our first look at their hotly anticipated superhero team up movie, Dawn of the Justice League and it certainty looks impressive.

The official word from Warner Brothers is that the teaser image is just concept art so there is still room for change when it comes to costumes, and hopefully, logos.

Dawn of the Justice League poster

At the center of the image is DC’s golden trifecta, their big three characters, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Of course seeing these three together isn’t new as they were seen standing shoulder to shoulder in the latest Batman Vs. Superman trailer. We’ve also seen pictures of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman before as well which leaves only the half man, half machine, Cyborg and a new version of the Flash as the truly new reveals.

flashjusticeleague

Again it’s hard to tell as this is only concept art, and one that reveals only torsos above a big black cloud of ominous, but the Flash and Cyborg look a little off to me. The Flash’s costume looks heavily armored and unnecessarily bulky. He looks more like a reject from the video game Halo than a super fast speedster speedster to me. The Flash should be sleek and slender like a crimson Olympic runner. It’s hard to tell how the entire costume will turn out once it’s fully revealed but it would seem his legs would follow suit and be equally armored. Also missing are the Flash’s trademark lightning bolts on the side of his head. Like the wings on the side of Captain America’s helmet, these would have a hard time not looking ridiculously funny on the big screen, but I would have liked some effort at least to incorporate them into the costume. On that we’ll have to wait and see for more images to come out.

cyborg comics

The bigger concern on my end has to do with the design of poor Cyborg. In case you didn’t know, Cyborg, aka Victor Stone, is a half man, half machine superhero due to injuries sustained from a horrific accident. Like a Transformer, he is able to reconfigure his mechanical parts into different types of machines and weapons. But that’s the problem. He looks just like a Micheal Bay Transformer with all those busy mechanical parts on his body jutting out in all sorts of angles. One would imagine his power to change will take on the similarities of Optimus Prime and friends  with overly complex transformations for the sake of being overly complex. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of the big budget Transformer movies?)

However, props to WB for upping the diversity by throwing Cyborg, arguably the least known of these heroes, into the limelight and beating Marvel to the punch of having the first major African American superhero on the big screen when Cyborg gets his own solo movie in 2020 and the first solo female superhero film for Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017. (Sorry Falcon. And yes sorry, Blade everybody forgets about you.)

Besides the new questionable design decisions on the new additions, it is nice to see the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman square in the middle looking epic as always. Superman is striking a bit of a messiah pose like normal. Batman is brooding of course, as is Aquaman too. And I must admit that while I was a little worried about the casting of ,Gal Gadot for the role of Wonder Woman, she looks incredibly bad ass in the new Batman Vs. Superman trailer, and the recently released trailer for her stand alone film.

Let’s just hope they get around to refining the film’s title logo by the time it hits theaters. The “DC Films presents: The Dawn of the Justice League” is a little lackluster as is.

Deadpool Rated R

Deadpool Rated R For Strong Language, Violence, Sexual Content and Graphic Nudity

It appears Deadpool star, Ryan Reynolds can rest easy as he’s atoned for for the comic book sins he committed in Wolverine Origins and Green Lantern. As it should have,  Fox’s Deadpool has successfully earned an R rating.

If you’ve seen the entertaining trailers released already, it’s clear the movie was heading in that direction already. Especially with a red banded  trailer coming out over Christmas that was full of impalements, f-bombs, ass cheeks (strippers and Deadpool’s) a soccer ball style decapitation, gunplay, and sexual innuendo.

The biggest concern was exactly how much of the violence and naughtiness would make it past the cutting room floor into the final film. And from the looks of it, it appears nearly all of it does. As it should be. Hell, with what we’ve seen so far, it will be very interesting to see what bits and dialogue didn’t make it into the film.

Deadpool is a Marvel comics character introduced in the 90’s who grew into mainstream popularity in the early 2000’s due to the character’s tongue in cheek absurdity.  A mutant mercenary with the ability to heal almost instantly from nearly any wound, Deadpool is so loved because the character is so unhinged. Almost every word that comes out of his mouth is a joke. He has a deep love for all things chimichanga’s. And he constantly breaks the fourth wall, often talking directly to the readers of his comic book in hilarious unexpected ways. In a world full of anti-heros, Deadpool is the most anti of them all.

deadpool-movie-costume-pic-2

And the film’s producers seem to have embraced the character’s nuttiness not only in the film, but in their marketing and promotion efforts as well. For instance, the film’s official Twitter account is still only following Hello Kitty. Promotional photos have shown Deadpool holding a teddy bear hostage. Billboard signs have begun appearing that are absolutely ridiculous and brilliant at the same time. And there was a sexy little fireside photo shoot of Ryan Reynolds on a bearskin rug that had it’s 15 seconds of internet fame when it was released.

Which is all a huge relief considering how the character was so badly butchered when Reynolds played him in the questionable Wolverine: Origins. The movie infamously sewed the Merc with a Mouth’s lips shut at the end and shoved two giant swords up his arms in a boneheaded decision that made fans throw up their hands in disgust. (Another popular X-Men character, Gambit was also butchered in the film and appears to be getting a second chance with a solo film of his own starring Channing Tatum soon.)

Fox’s Deadpool rated R and starring, Ryan Reynolds opens in theaters everywhere February 12th.