The Force Awakens - First thoughts
2:35 PM Garyn Dakari 0 Comments
Like many others, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night. Since many more have not yet however, this will be a spoiler free post. This isn't a real review per se, and I won't be giving one or trying to fit it into my best-to-worst list until I see it a few more times, but for now, here are my initial thoughts and feelings on the matter.
First off, the feeling was ruined right off the bat because the sound crapped out at the theater I was in, and there was no audio during the opening crawl. This was immensely disappointing to me. I missed the prequels in theaters, making TFA the my first theatrical Star Wars experience. And while this is probably stupid, the opening crawl was the part I was looking forward to the most... and I have still never heard it on a theater sound system.
But, I can't fault the movie for that, so I'll move on and say the next hour and a half was
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I loved the look and feel of the movie, the characters and acting were both fantastic(Two things the Star Wars saga has seldom had at the same time thus far), and even the returning characters were great, never feeling shoe-horned in, or outstaying their welcome. The comedic moments land, the action is fast and clear, all the main cast(Old and new) had great chemistry together, and I absolutely want to see more of them in future Episodes. The movie does lean pretty heavily on the nostalgia factor, which could be a positive or a negative depending on your point of view. But being the kind of person who waited four hours in line wearing a knit Star Wars hat for the premiere, and rewatched the unaltered original trilogy on degraded VHS two days prior, you can bet your starship that the nostalgia hit me in all the right ways. There was a moment in the scene pictured above that legitimately gave me tears. Not because it was sad, just because I was enjoying what I was seeing too much to do anything else.
But - there's always a but, isn't there - I did say 'the next hour and a half' back there. Which is because there's a certain point in the movie where it transitioned from "This is amazing!" to "I'm not sure how I feel about this..." It's not during a big twist or major story turn, or at all related to the above image, it's just that at some point toward the end, the movie half-lost me. I'm not totally sure why yet. Perhaps I'd finally come out of the hype-rspace I'd been flying through for the last month, or perhaps I was just hoping for a more self-contained movie, and it was seeming to do a lot of sequel setup. Which I won't immediately call a bad thing till I see it a few more times, because this could just be an instance of expectation vs. reality - and I was expecting something more along the lines of A New Hope or The Phantom Menace in terms of Episode VII being a self-contained story with just enough loose threads leftover to carry into sequels. Instead it seemed more like the Marvel movies where it literally lay the groundwork for sequels. It was effective in doing that, mind you, and has me really looking forward to Episode VIII, it just left me unsure how to feel about VII.
So yeah, The Force Awakens. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it as a whole yet, but I know I really enjoyed it, and am eager for more. Go watch it if you haven't yet!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 2 Review
3:15 PM Garyn Dakari 0 Comments
Aw yeah. Despite the rough start that was Season 1, I found myself greatly looking forward to the followup entirely thanks to the comparatively awesome finale episode. The promise of an entire season of episodes like Hostage Crisis? This Star Wars fan is on board.
Episodes I-III: Bounty Hunter Hunt arc
The three-parter consisting of Holocron Heist, Cargo of Doom, and Children of the Force begins with Count Dooku hiring Cad Bane to break into the Jedi Temple vaults to steal a holocron. This is a spoiler-free review so I won't go into it, but it's a very solid season opener, and Cad Bane swiftly rises the ranks of my favorite Star Wars villains. He's Lee Van Cleef in Star Wars, and I'm loving it. The arch is not perfect, mind you. The evil scheme is rather goofy and the final episode of the trilogy is the weakest. But Anakin and Ahsoka chasing Bane across the galaxy is just fun, making most of the flaws easy to overlook.
Side note, but this is where the chronology of the series starts getting a little confusing, as these three episodes actually take place long before Season 1's Hostage Crisis, making this Bane's real introduction.
Episode IV: Senate Spy arc
Having fun with those bounty hunter episodes? Well, here comes a bucket of ice water in the form of Padme Amidala, her husband, her ex-boyfriend, and space politics.
Kidding, this is actually a fairly decent episode. Padme and Anakin still make a lousy couple though.
Episode V-VIII: Point Rain arc
The episodes Landing at Point Rain, Weapons Factory, Legacy of Terror, and Brain Invaders aren't so much a four-parter as they are four episodes that directly lead into one another, as each one does have its own style and story. Point Rain is pretty basic, with Republic forces(Consisting of clones, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Luminara, and Kiadi Mundi) launch an attack to take a Geonosis weapons factory. It's pretty much just a lot of action, but I found it fun. Weapons Factory is more interesting, mainly focusing on the two padawans, Barriss Offee and Ahsoka Tano as they infiltrate the factory on their own. There's some good character development in here, and I enjoyed seeing the underpowered Jedi have to work without the support or backup of their masters.
The next two episodes take a wander into left field however, with the introduction of brain-leeching zombifying worms. Basically the things from Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, only with zombies. Yeah, really. It's weird, it's dumb, but... eh, I can roll with it I guess.
Episodes IX-X: Grievous Intrigue arc
Grievous Intrigue and The Deserter are some of the weaker episodes in this season. It has Grievous in it, for starters. I don't hate the character, but we all know how his episodes go, don't we? He shows up, acts menacing for five minutes, has a saber duel with someone(Usually Obi-Wan. See above), then ends up running away. Luckily there's a bit more going on in these episodes, such as the titular deserter in the second episode - a clone who's left the Republic to start a family. It raises a lot of questions and challenges some preconceptions we had about clones, and seeing how the other clones react and interact to the situation not only deepens the entire clone concept, but the character of Rex.
Also, Eeth Koth is in it. I always love it when they manage to give some obscure Jedi screen time.
Episode XI: Lightsaber Lost
This is quite possibly my favorite standalone episode of the series. Basic premise is, Ahsoka's lightsaber is stolen, and rather than admit that to Anakin, she enlists the aid of Tera Sinube, an ancient Jedi Master, and tries to get it back herself. This is the episode where I finally caved and decided I liked Ahsoka as a character - the dynamic between her and Sinube here is just great, with her wanting to run and leap about rooftops after the thief while he urges a more methodical(Read: Inch around on a cane whilst uttering Jedi Wisdom™) approach. We get a lot of character development on her part, Sinube reminds us this is a kids' show by giving life lessons(Pretty good ones though), and the action and visuals are great.
Episode XII-XIV: Duchess of Mandalore arc
The Mandalore Plot, Voyage of Temptation, and Duchess of Mandalore mark the overall high-point of the season for me. Not only do we get to see the Mandalorians en mass for the first time outside of the now defunct EU, but also some solid character development for Obi-Wan - not something I was expecting, given how established he already is across the six movies. Anakin really shines in this arc as well. Seeing their banter and relationship here make these the kind of episodes I wish the prequel movies were more like.
Episode XV: Senate Murders
And now for my least favorite episode in the season. It's not bad per se, it's just... dull. Too dull for something with the title of Senate Murders, anyway. Here I was hoping for Bane assassinating people or something. Perhaps it'd be more meaningful if watched in chronological order - which is to say, putting this episode in the middle of Season 3. As I said earlier, things get confusing sometimes.
Episode XVI: Cat and Mouse
Chronologically the first in the entire series - yes, before Season 1's Hidden Enemy, and the 2008 Movie - this episode has Anakin matching wits with the spider-like Separatist Admiral Trench, in order to break through the blockade so they can reach Christophsis for the events you've already seen. There's not much to say about it really, it's a decent episode, not particularly good or bad. Perhaps I would've appreciated it more had I seen it in the correct order, I don't know.
Episode XVII: Bounty Hunters
Be it samurais, cowboys, gladiators, or bugs, you've probably seen some form of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai at some point in your life. Well now you can see it again, in Star Wars! So if that sounds good, you'll probably like this episode(It was okay), if it doesn't, you probably won't.
Side note, but for no reason that I can tell, this episode and the following two-parter(See below) chronologically take place between the first Cad Bane arc of the season, and Senate Spy.
Episodes XVIII-XIX: The Zillo Beast arc
You know those things in life, where you don't realize you've been waiting for it or wanting it until you see it? Well, a Kaiju stomping around Coruscant(Come on that's not a spoiler, you could see it coming a mile away. Literally) was one such thing for me. To be fair, this two-parter probably wasn't that great, but not too long ago I'd binged the classic Godzilla movies, and I've always had a love for King Kong and dragons, so... yeah.
Episodes XX-XXII: Deathtrap arc
And finally the three-part finale comprised of Death Trap, R2 Come Home, and Lethal Trackdown. Basic premise: Boba Fett seaking vengeance on Mace Windu for the death of his FATHER. If you've seen Revenge of the Sith, you know that won't happen, but some pretty cool stuff happens along the way all the same. The second episode in this arc was a little weak, but the third more than made up for it, being a great finale and one of the best episodes of the season. It also made me realize how awesome Plo Koon was. Hopefully we get to see more of him in the future.
- Cad Bane kicks serious butt. All the serious butt. But seriously, he's one of my favorite characters.
- Boba Fett has a long way to go before becoming the Hunter we all know and love - But I won't hold it against him, he is still just a kid after all.
- Aurra Sing and Bossk - aka, 'That woman watching the pod race in Episode I', and 'That lizard guy in Episode V', respectively, are back, and they're pretty cool.
- Obi-Wan and Anakin are who we wished they were in the prequels.
- Ahsoka is finally on my good side.
- Padme is still lame.
-Lightsaber Duels-Being a season centered on bounty hunters, there isn't much sabering to be had. Really the only notable ones were Anakin vs. Hondo, which was okay, Obi-Wan vs. a Mandalorian, which was a cool scene, but a bad duel, and Obi-Wan vs. Grievous for the fourth time. All in all, nothing to write home about.
-Presentation-The visuals are a step up from Season 1, but some of the movement's still awkward and the facial animations are all still very stiff, and the duels just don't look very good. Beyond that, I quite like the additions to the soundtrack, and the multi-episode story format is really working wonders.
-Role in the larger saga-While there's nothing earth shattering to change how you look at the movies here, Season 2 did offer up a lot of spiffy new planets and characters. For planets we've got Devaron(Home to the devaronians - the Satan-faced guy in the Mos Isley Cantina was a devaronian, for those of you with lives), Malastare(Mentioned in The Phantom Menace), Mandalore, and Vanqor. As far as new concepts are concerned, the Mandalorians have apparently become pacifists, Obi-Wan had a love interest in his past, and darksabers exist.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2 is superior to Season 1 in nearly every way, from the stories, to the writing, the character development, the visuals, soundtrack, and tone. For what it is, a children's animated show, it's great. For Star Wars - it's just okay. Just about good enough to stand with the prequels, still a long way from standing with the originals. It's far from perfect, but I enjoyed it.
-Score and Recommendation-
7/10, better than Attack of the Clones, almost as good as The Phantom Menace - If you're a die hard Original Trilogy purist who can't stand the prequel era, this show will not change your mind. If you're a big Expanded Universe fan, the changes made to Mandalore might kill the show for you. But if you don't care so much about that, and made it through Season 1, this season makes for an enjoyable supplement to the prequel trilogy.