Three Film Feast: Star Wars (Original Trilogy)

Star Wars OTRoze-Verdict: Possibly the greatest trilogy ever made.

Films;
– Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
– Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
– Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Directors;
– George Lucas (A New Hope)
– Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back)
– Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi)

Main Cast;
– Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker)
– Harrison Ford (Han Solo)
– Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia)
– James Earl Jones (Darth Vader Voice)
– Billy Dee Williams (Lando)
– Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
– Kenny Baker (R2-D2)
– Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
– Frank Oz (Yoda)
– Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)

George Lucas had a vision, his vision included star fighters, talking robots, Jedi nights, gangster worm monsters, storm troopers, countless planets and a death star. All things that we would have loved to think of. Lucas was so passionate about his project he later produced the final two films independently, with the intentions of protecting his work from being meddled with by film studios. Although a difficult task, he succeeded in making a long lasting trilogy which created die hard fans around the globe.

There’s a good reason why Star Wars is such a classic and that’s because it’s absolutely incredible. From the characters to the locations, it is not short of imagination, it makes me wonder where all this innovation has gone to nowadays. Of course there’s no surprise that George Lucas creator of Star Wars also played a large part in writing the Indiana Jones series which is probably my favorite film franchise to date. It’s not hard to see similarities in both these franchises as the adventure is what the films are all about. What’s great about this trilogy is that it works as a 6 hour film, as the story picks off from where the last one ended. What’s even better is that each film ends satisfyingly avoiding that irritating cliffhanger feeling. Does it hold up compared to films nowadays? Absolutely and probably exceeds them in terms of quality.

I think anyone who can make a robot, that can’t speak, one of the most lovable characters on screen, should get massive praise. Almost half the characters in the franchise can’t speak a language we understand, yet they are memorable and characters we empathize with, most notably Chewbaka, R2-D2 and Wicket the Ewok. That goes for all the characters, they are all interesting and have personalities we can relate to, but they really wouldn’t be anything without the bonds they share. The likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and even Lando share a chemistry that’s addictive, it makes us want to see more of them and come out victorious. Another brilliant character is Darth Vader, the very person we’re meant to despise. Even though he was an evil bastard in the first couple of films, I couldn’t help but admire his no nonsense style and persistence. Which is why after the “shocking” ending of The Empire Strikes Back, we realize there’s even more to him than we thought. Nowadays our villains on screen are one dimensional and share similar motives, it’s refreshing to witness such a character transformation of a villain on screen because what initially is a feeling of bitterness towards Darth Vader ends in one of the most emotional and heart warming scenes of the trilogy. I can’t stress how brilliant these characters are.

For a film made 30 odd years ago where CGI was on the brink of development, it doesn’t do too bad of a job. If I’m not mistaken Star Wars was one of the first films to use CGI at its full potential during that time period and prompted future use of it in films like Alien and Superman: The Movie. George Lucas of course went on to build his own visual effects company which is pretty much the reason we have incredible CGI imagery in blockbuster films today. In respect to the time period Star Wars was made, they were smart in using the CGI only where necessary so it didn’t get tiresome or draw attention to its flaws. What I think enhanced the underdeveloped CGI is the costume and set design which is some of the best I’ve ever seen in film. Some may disagree and argue that it makes the alien characters look noticeably fake but there is a charm to it. Knowing that the human characters are acting with objects within the scene makes it all that more convincing, more so than some films nowadays where actors have to pretend that the CGI characters are there with them, most recently Transformers. We are immersed in the lands they explore and the surroundings because the sets are expertly built with emphasis on detail and the location scouting is bold. After the films, it doesn’t just make you want to build a light saber and fight evil, but it makes you want to explore and have you’re own epic adventure as these characters did.

For a time where cynicism inhabited most things in society such as music, media and even films, Star Wars really brought back an optimistic and hopeful perspective on life and the future. It’s a simple story between good and evil, where peoples choices and free will define them, and no matter what, the good will smash the evil. Even though there’s a possibility Luke could turn to the dark side, we never believe it because his character is so pure and likable, he’s the every man, someone we can all relate to, and by the end of the trilogy, someone we strive to be. As well as being a great story, it’s also a lot of fun. Probably the biggest positive about Star Wars is what a good time it is, no matter how many times you watch it, Han Solo’s sarcastic humor and wit will make you smile, as well as the back and forth dialogue between the characters. It really is the definition of a “popcorn flick”, and I think that’s largely down to how passionate George Lucas is and how well the actors know the characters. They play them with so much confidence and awareness of how the characters should be portrayed, that we are able to buy into them. Ultimately the film knows exactly what it wants to be, which is a quirky, fantastical space opera that needs to be watched religiously because “if you’re not trillion at least once every three years, the dark side wins” (How I Met Your Mother reference).

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The Truth About Emanuel (2013)

emmanuel-truth-about-fishes02Roze-Rating: 4 / 5

Moving in across the street is single mother Linda (Jessica Biel) possessing a striking resemblance to Emanuel’s (Kaya Scodelario) dead mother. Emanuel blames herself for her mothers death at childbirth, she feels she has nothing to offer in this world. Uncharacteristically offering to babysit for her new neighbor opens up a relationship she has longed for ever since she was born. An obsession evolves as she can relate to her neighbors pain even if she lives a lie.

The Truth About Emanuel is a beautifully constructed film exploring human relationships in such a down to earth way. We are introduced to a 17 year old girl, Emanuel, claiming to have murdered her mother. She mentions this during an opening monologue where she later explains is from childbirth. She is guilt-ridden, convinced that she was never meant to belong in this world. Her obscured views on life and reality makes her cynical about her future and to an extent people. An important quote from Emanuel is when she claims “reality is overrated”, her feelings concerning her place in the world makes her absent of ambition, she lives in her own distorted reality. I find her character extremely real as teenagers at some point will feel lost, unsure of what lies ahead and where their choices will take them. Emanuel may be damaged but she has the personality of the average teen. She’s intelligent and extremely witty as we see her countlessly crack smart ass responses to people, she has an identity but no coherent outlet to express herself with.

Ultimately for a good thirty minutes of the film we are exposed to an Emanuel that is on the edge, she feels no one understands her and no one will. I like how the film progresses through her daily routine a number of times, driving home how little she allows herself to live at her age. The film really starts going when Linda moves in with her baby daughter across the street, Emanuel instantly feels a connection with her as we later realize she looks very similar to her mother. A relationship soon develops and we come to learn that there is more to that connection than we thought, it’s chilling but Emanuel’s understanding of Linda’s pain is compelling.

Performances from Kaya Scodelario and Jessica Biel were pretty solid. I felt Kaya Scodelario was perfect for this role, her face is so gentle and has this believable innocence that you rarely find. I knew she had something special when I first saw her on Skins and not because she was hawt (She’s older than me so not creepy). After seeing her in this I now have to see what she has to offer in her future films because this performance was perfect and surprisingly her accent to. Biel was business as usual, solid playing her role to an eerie believability,

Some parts of the film were shot beautifully typically involving montages and water. We see moments where water floods Emanuel’s surroundings to symbolize what I think is her rebirth, inner purity and subconscious as she develops a mother-daughter relationship with Linda which she has longed for since birth, it later illustrates a much self fulfilled meaning. Another great addition to the film is the soundtrack, it fits perfectly aiding the tone of the story.

It may be a film that proves to be unpopular as it lacks melodramatic moments and a generic tone but it just wouldn’t have been real if it went out to be these things. It’s a story about how human connection and relationships can help you as there are always people out that can relate to your problems and the only way to help oneself is to accept reality and make your own destiny. That was my take on it anyways.

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

kick-ass-2-justice-foreverRoze-Rating: 4 / 5

Three years on following the success of Kick-Ass, we are reunited with superheroes Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). Growing bored of living in the real world Dave Lizewski decides to suit up again and train with Hit-Girl hoping to become a legitimate superhero. Still mourning over the death of his gangster father, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) obsesses over the fantasy of killing Kick-Ass. After accidentally killing his mother D’Amico reinvents himself as the “Mother-Fucker” swearing to avenge his fathers death.

The first Kick-Ass was a huge success because it was such a new concept to the superhero genre. It’s a parody to how the like’s of Batman, Hawkeye and Black Widow would fair in the real world if they suddenly decided to get up and become a superhero. It was fresh, funny and stylish. The action was bad-ass and the violence shocking which made it a comic-book movie classic.

When I heard there was going to be a Kick-Ass two I was quite excited but was pretty sure it couldn’t improve on the first because all that freshness and shock value would be gone. That may have been the case but it indeed improved in some ways, compared to the first film.

I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the film as it seemed really out of place, it turned into this mean girls slash watchmen hybrid as we saw Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl go through their own journey’s; Hit-Girl to puberty and Kick-Ass to adulthood. It was entertaining but felt off as jokes were limited and not well executed. I felt comedic timing and editing probably had something to do with that as I was aware of the jokes but they didn’t come out as well as they could. For example a scene where The Motherfucker robs a store and an old man is told to get on the ground, he struggles as his arthritis kicks in forcing him to go down very slowly. I only noticed it second time round as the camera was panned back. Luckily the second half of the film did not disappoint as it was a lot funnier and provided loads of action.

The bar was set pretty high for action sequences after the first film which is why I was happy to see that the crunching punches and hits remained present. Overall the sequences were well choreographed and thought out as we were given some slick moves and executions to feast our eyes on. It was good that they really strived for original action sequences as it only pumps us up even more, although it was missing the stylish edge that made the first film ultimately pretty to look at. Little things that the camera did in first that it didn’t do in the second.

New additions to the cast meant new superheros and super villains, some of them were awesome and some felt like they shouldn’t be there. Jim Carrey plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, ex mafia con man who starts a superhero team in the name of Justice Forever. He may not be as funny as we hoped him to be but he sure plays the part well. As for the rest of the team we have Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), Battle Guy (Clarke Duke), Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison), Insect Man (Robert Emms) and two parents who are looking for their missing child. They make for entertaining additions to the cast except I didn’t see the need for the parents, they didn’t really offer anything comedically and seemed to get in the way. Overall the group of super villains were much more badass, but again they weren’t all utilized making some of them seem out of place.

Kick-Ass 2 may take awhile to get going but the last acts are worth waiting for as they are adrenaline filled scenes of epicness. Not as coherent as the first as it knew what it wanted to be, a violent parody to the superhero genre. Kick-Ass 2 takes on a more serious tone which continues on from the D’Amico vs Kick-Ass saga. Definitely worth the watch.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

migp_wp6_1920Micro Review

Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

This fourth Mission: Impossible instalment boasts flashy locations and intense action sequences, making it easily the best film of the franchise. Everything about this film is fun to watch, which is what makes it so good. It doesn’t take itself seriously like the previous films do, and often parodies them, as you will notice right from the start as Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) mission message fails to self destruct. The action sequences are also a lot more intense and spectacular compared to its predecessors, being set in glamorous settings. One particular setting being Dubai, which provides one of the most memorable scenes I will ever see, which happens to be on the Burj Khalifa. The fact that it’s set in the middle east and it exuding the culture makes it that much closer to me, having lived there for a large portion of my life. The cast is also a massive highlight of this film, and the team Ethan Hunt is left with prove to be a perfect match up, as I’m sure most people would agree that it would be a disappointment to see another sequel without the same group of actors. It was also refreshing to see Ethan Hunt go through a mission with a team from start to finish as opposed to being solo for most of the film.

As mentioned before, the cast is amazing, Simon Pegg playing Benji brings his humour to the film, aiding the comedy and making the situations a lot more light hearted. Jeremy Renner coming off two massive films, “The Town” and “The Hurt Locker” proved to be a rising star playing Agent Brandt, a mysterious Analyst somehow pulled into the action. He was definitely a very popular choice, for me anyways because he’s just a damn good actor. last but not least Paula Patton, who seemed quite a random pick, with limited experience as an action star, but totally proved she was tough and gritty enough to play the part as Agent Carter.

Also the great thing about this film is that everything is quite unpredictable at times, and you eventually start to question whether the plan will go smoothly or not. It’s a perfect film if your looking for a lot of fun, explosions and style along the way, popcorn stuff.