500 Words or So on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

500 Words or So on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Through Until New Years Eve I’m going to be summarising my thoughts about all 8 Theatrical Star Wars movies released, culminating with me saying words about The Last Jedi on New Years Day (Fucking wild, party animal that I am) And by 8, I do mean everything before Last Jedi, which includes Rogue One.

Fight Me.

-/-

Real quick, carrying on from the end of my tangent on Rogue One, the decision to completely forego an opening text crawl really impacts now as we get the first one here. Reading as a perfect summary of the spin-off and giving us an even greater knowledge of the stakes that the Rebels are facing and… Oooooo. That giddy feeling just keeps getting bigger.

Anyhow, onto A New Hope proper.

This is the movie that started it all, George Lucas’ vision of a Galaxy Far Far Away, A long, long time ago, and it’s pretty good.

Luke’s a bit of a cum gargle early on… actually, throughout the whole movie itself really, which is a bit of an issue when he’s the main character you’re hinging your entire franchise off of him, but thankfully Han and Leia are there to balance that out, bandying about some of the strongest chemistry between actors ever put to film, selling the ass-kicking Rebel Princess and the smarmy Smuggler.

Actually, that’s a point that applies to the whole production really. Even regardless of a fairly cheesy script alot of the actors really strut their stuff across the movie, leading to the viewer just sort of not caring about the overall janks in the narrative.

Oh, except for the Trash Compactor Scene, that can go sit of a rusty chainsaw, it is just the worst, breaking the pacing and having zero impact on the rest of the overall story. Remove it and you lose absolutely nothing from the context of the movie.

Now while I don’t want to be too hard on a movie from the 70’s, using narrative tropes that hadn’t exactly been cliche at the time… but yeah, its kind of rote by this point.

Honestly, I kind of respect Revenge of the Sith’s story telling risks even more in the face of just how… eh New Hope is, because even if the pieces didn’t fall into place at least there was some effort put in to trying to do something interesting with the narrative.

But that’s not exactly fair. A New Hope’s story isn’t bad, just a little boring is all.

Oh, also, C-3PO needs to just shut up. I swear, anyone going into Phantom Menace and being surprised by Jar Jar existing, I need to draw your attention back to the original trilogy, and point to C-3PO for all of the hindsight you really needed to guess towards the existence of some sort of obnoxious comic relief in the movie.

So yeah, not a fan of 3PO. Sue me, I suppose. I could really care less.

-/-

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500 Words or So on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

500 Words or So on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Through Until New Years Eve I’m going to be summarising my thoughts about all 8 Theatrical Star Wars movies released, culminating with me saying words about The Last Jedi on New Years Day (Fucking wild, party animal that I am) And by 8, I do mean everything before Last Jedi, which includes Rogue One.

Fight Me.

-/-

Yeah, yeah, I’m talking about the spin off movie. Hush now, and let me say my piece.

I’m not too burned or hyped by Rogue One either way, I’m pretty luke warm on it as a whole, but that’s mostly because I’ve SEEN the original trilogy. I’ve seen it countless times, since I was but a wee lad. Which burns Rouge One quite a bit as it seems to want to be a prequel to a movie that’s been out for 30 years, trying to hinge the audience’s emotion on characters that we can be pretty certain don’t make it past the events of this particular movie.

HOWEVER, if you have kids, a friend that has somehow managed to avoid seeing any of the movies beforehand this is where you start them off. Because while it’s a little bit awkward in places and has a few gratuitous cameos and sound cues trying to evoke the watcher’s nostalgia for the previous movies, Rogue One does an absolute marvelous job of playing set up for the Original Trilogy. It sets up the Rebellion and some of its leaders, establishes the Empire and just how overwhelmingly powerful they are and through Chirrut tells us about the Force and gives us a vague idea of what it can do, keeping it vague enough that once we get to Luke we still have that room to grow and learn with him as he learns through both New Hope and Empire Strikes Back about how his newfound Space Wizard powers work. It even establishes the reason why the big old exhaust port weakness exists on the Death star in the first place.

But it’s best work is what it does with Vader, specifically with the hallway fight at the end, where he just curbs the Rebel rank and file into the ground. He’s power incarnate, walking into the crowd of 20 or so Rebels, deflecting every single laser bolt without a care in the world.

What it does is show us that he doesn’t care, that his victory is pretty much a fact of the world. So that, when we jump forward to A New Hope and his very brief duel with Obi-Wan, the audience is led to believe that this isn’t such a guaranteed victory, he’s cautious, methodical. 30 year old choreography is re-contextualized as a fight between two absolute MASTERS of their craft, and oooooo, it gets me absolutely giddy every time.

Again, the biggest problem is that I’ve never really been able to get any kind of emotional attachment to the characters involved, because I’ve seen the Original Trilogy. The first time I saw the movie, I knew how this story was going to end, there was never really any other way, considering none of these characters make it into the Original Trilogy, but as I said, if this is your first exposure to Star Wars?

I reckon this is about near perfect for an introduction into the Galaxy, far, far away, so long as you can tolerate the odd wooden performance here and there.

-/-

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Are yoy guys Sand People? Cause I’m about to kill you… all…. Ahhhhh, sounded better him my head…

 

500 or so Words On Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

500 or so Words On Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Through Until New Years Eve I’m going to be summarising my thoughts about all 8 Theatrical Star Wars movies released, culminating with me saying words about The Last Jedi on New Years Day (Fucking wild, party animal that I am) And by 8, I do mean everything before Last Jedi, which includes Rogue One.

Fight Me.

-/-

Let’s get this out of the way right now, Episode III is a good movie. In fact it’s bordering on damn near great, only really held down by the sins of what came before, because this is very much a movie of pay-offs, with very few plot lines being started here.

Palpatine gaining too much power, and slowly chipping away at the Jedi Council’s trust was begun in Episode I fleshed out (As much as anything was) in Episode II and concluded here.

The only real thing here that sort of starts in Episode III is that Padme is pregnant, but it more so ties into the overall AnakinxPadme romance arc which has been going on since Baby Space Christ asked her if she was an Angel back on Tatooine in Episode I.

And so, by that virtue, Episode III is held back by alot of the things that were massive issues in I and II, but its also the movie where the prequels absolutely hit their stride, giving the actors freedom to actually properly emote, which is fantastic.

And, thankfully, unlike Episode II, the fight choreography is absolutely on point. Not to say that its perfect, there’s the odd off moment here and there, but when it absolutely matters the clash of weapons is absolutely beautiful. I’d even go so far as to say the Mustafar duel is one of the best fights across the entire franchise, it certainly has some of the most raw, human emotion behind it… even if alot of that is Anakin whinging… but damn man, Hayden Christensen gets a hell of a lot of flak for his acting in the prequels, but damned if the boy isn’t putting his all into selling the garbage dialogue given to him. For instance, there’s a moment towards the end, where he’s sworn himself to Papa Palpatine, so he’s sent off to the aforementioned Mustafar to kill off the last leaders of the separatists, and he just lets out this primal, twisted scream of pain and frustration and anger and hurt and, oh my damn.

Ewan Mcgregor is similarly on point as sarcastic, jokey Obi Wan here, getting to actually put some substance into that sweet, buttery English accent of his.

Least improved is Natalie Portman, though considering her role is about as chunky as Kirstin Dunst’s in Spider-Man 3, I can’t really blame her.

MVP on the other hand is still Ian McDiarmid, who is still just having all of the fun as Emperor Palpatine. It’s especially great as he’s cackling and hollering at Yoda, as the two kick each other across the senate chambers.

And although he appears, Jar Jar Binks has ZERO speaking lines. How good is that? It’s almost like they were actually taking fan backlash on board, and working to fix it for this final installment.

Revenge of the Sith is the best of the Prequel Trilogy by a LONG SHOT, and even with all of it’s baggage from the previous 2 films, its still so very, very worth the watch.

-/-

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Yeah, yeah, It’s 3 minutes late. I know, I’ll try not to slip up again.

500 Words Or So On Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

500 Words Or So On Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Through Until New Years Eve I’m going to be summarising my thoughts about all 8 Theatrical Star Wars movies released, culminating with me saying words about The Last Jedi on New Years Day (Fucking wild, party animal that I am) And by 8, I do mean everything before Last Jedi, which includes Rogue One.

Fight Me.

-/-

You know what Anakin, I get it. Sand is coarse, it is rough and it abso-positively gets in everything. Having just been to the beach in the last few days I totally understand my dude, sand is the literal worst.

Okay, okay, Attack of the Clones… Let’s talk Episode II. I’m going to do it, yup, right now. Absolutely.

Look, Episode II isn’t the WORST thing in the world, I mean, it’s at least better than an AIDS diagnosis, so that’s something?

But out of all of the theatrical Star Wars releases? Yeah, this is the absolute valley of the series, bar none, and for my money, the only things you need to know going forward is that firstly, there is a Clone army developed in mysterious circumstances and deus, Anakin and Padme are married and doing Wookie impressions straight on through the night.

Ugh, but that’s reductive, because there isn’t an entire absence of good here, the problem is it happens so rarely and a lot of it is less good and more just absence of bad.

For instance, Jar Jar Binks, the comedy nonsense character from Phantom Menace gets less than 5 minutes total screen time and talks for maybe 2 of those. Which is great, but gets unbalanced when C3PO is thrown into the movie for the last third, throwing around unfunny puns and the most gratuitous of cameos. Of course the Golden Git is more tolerable than Jar Jar ever was, but its still a lot of “could you not?”

Actually, that’s a really good tagline for Episode II, because there’s enough little moments of good here, that I can’t help but be disappointed. If it was just bad, I’d simply move on and be done with it, but there’s enough here that I can’t help but reach out and try to grasp those tiny little glimmers of hope.

And then my arm is melted by the raging tire fire that is the rest of the movie, smothering those glimmers so much that it just becomes a chore to try and grab on.

But the biggest sin of all, is that in this almost 2 and a half hour movie, not a single fight is well paced, shot or staged.

The fights all look shit.

And that’s monumental, because even in the worst of the other movies, the fight choreography is usually the one high point. Phantom Menace has Maul vs Qui Gon and Obi, Episode III is Obi vs Anakin, Rogue One is Vadar’s stroll through the Rebels… You get my point, right? Those are 3 of the weaker movies in this big ol’ sprawling ennealogy (plus a couple) and you can still count on them to have decent fight scenes.

If you’re ever doing a run of the movies, beginning to end, this is the only movie in the franchise I can actually advise skipping entirely.

Sorry Episode II, you don’t make me angry, you just make me really sad.

-/-

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Oh also the Raiders, they Kidnapped His Mum and Kept her strapped to that weird bed, crucifix For a month… Why?

 

500 Words Or So On Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

500 Words Or So On Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Through Until New Years Eve I’m going to be summarising my thoughts about all 8 Theatrical Star Wars movies released, culminating with me saying words about The Last Jedi on New Years Day (Fucking wild, party animal that I am) And by 8, I do mean everything before Last Jedi, which includes Rogue One.

Fight Me.

-/-

I think I like Episode I more than I’m supposed to, but I still think it’s a not very good movie. I just don’t hate it as much as Red Letter Media would have me hate it, hell, hate isn’t a very good word to begin with, because I don’t hate Phantom Menace, not even a little.

Phantom Menace’s biggest sin has always been that its boring. The movie is slow, poorly paced and none of the COPIUS amounts of talking is ever interesting enough to justify the slower moments.

It starts off pretty strong, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon having the maddest of banter on board the Trade Federation ship, before an attempt is made on their lives, forcing them to fight through a spaceship full of angry laser droids, while also baiting us with hints of a Jedi Council at the height of it’s power? Shit yeah son, sign me up for me.

And then the pace bottoms out as we have to suffer through Jar Jar and the rest of the Gungans, my erection is gone and I am now bored. Only for the pace to pick up again as we hit Theed and get to watch Jinn and Obi extract a Queen from her Palace amidst an invasion, so that they can spirit her away to a planet on the other side of the Galaxy to secure aid for her people in their time of need and then 45 minutes of Sand.

Sensing a theme here?

Episode 1’s biggest success on the other hand has always been Qui-Gon relentlessly shading the Jedi Council, which ties well into the overarching narrative of getting Anakin to Darth Vadar by the end of the trilogy, considering he does it so vehemently in front of Anakin, and to the boy Jinn is the perfect picture of a Jedi Master, kind, caring and strong, the questioning nature is adopted by him as he grows up and AH, it’s so GOOD, but so much of the movie is so dumb.

Actually, a lot of the movie’s positive moments surround Jinn, his shading the Jedi council, his banter with Obi Wan and his willingness to just sort of fuck people over for the greater good of all. (As he sees it) I mean really, why should he do anything positive for Watto, dude is a slave owner, fuck that guy.

Also the final fight between Jinn, Obi and Darth Maul. As cliche as it is to point it out, it probably is the highest point in the whole movie. Between the raw emotion on screen, John William’s “Battle of the Fates” playing in the background and the choreography… Mmmmmm, it’s really just so good.

Until it cuts back to jar Jar right after that emotional climax, really, just fuck that guy.

Summed up, Phantom Menace is held back by poor pacing, really awkward comic relief and some wooden acting that plagues the Prequel trilogy for it’s entirety. Still, it’s hardly the worst of the Anakin Trilogy and, ooooooo boy, I’ll see you tomorrow for that rant

-/-

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You Know He’s the Best Because His Lightsaber is Green like Luke’s~!

Fate/Apocrypha in Motion

Fate/Apocrypha in Motion

I went back to watch the Shirou vs. Gilgamesh fight in ufoTable’s Unlimited Blade Works anime a couple of days ago, and even though I’ve seen the fight at least a half a dozen times, every single viewing still gets be hype as fuck.

Not only is this a fight that the narrative has been building up for the last 5 to 6 episodes, but the rise and crescendo of Emiya UBW playing throughout, punctuating every sword slash, jump and Noble Phantasm launched sends shivers down my spine.

But most importantly is the motion. The motion of Shirou dipping and diving, of Gilgamesh’s quickly rising rage transferring into his transition from simply sitting back and shooting weapons at Shirou into grabbing a couple of long swords and charging in for close combat.

And then there’s the conclusion of the fight.

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That 4 seconds of animation is a masterclass of using motion to impart information. It shows us Shiro’s trajectory, the path of his slash from beginning to end, and even the way Gilgamesh was holding his sword before it found itself involuntarily removed from the man’s body. But what’s most impressive, at least for me, is how the arc of Shiro’s sword also informs us exactly how his body shifted from free fall to his landing position.

Fate/Apocrypha does not have that.

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The movement here is not only boring, but it also does nothing to impact the fight itself, no clash of ideals like the fight between Saber and Lancer in /Zero. It does nothing to change the status quo like the Archer and Lancer fight in /Stay-Night does in dragging Shirou into the war.

Red-Lancer attacks the neutral observer Servant Ruler, she fights back briefly, Black-Saber shows up to 2v1 , Ruler says no, she’s gotta be neutral as fuck, Red-Lancer and Black-Saber skirmish for a bit more, the sun comes up, Red-Lancer fucks off, Ruler maintains her Neutrality and nothing else happens.

I mean, we get B-Saber’s backstory and motivation, as told through flashbacks interrupting the fight, but there’s no reason for it to be told at this point. It just kind of happens.

And that is super upsetting, because the Apocrypha story has the potential to illustrate some really gorgeous encounters, especially with how bouncy Mordred has been shown to be so far.

I suppose its just going to remain exactly that, potential.

-/-

 

Murder Death Kill XTREME: My One Major Hang Up

Murder Death Kill XTREME: My One Major Hang Up

Wooo, its time for a brand new season of anime. Most everything from last season has now concluded, and we’ve got ourselves a brand new line up dropping. Hell there’s even a new Fate/ series on the docket, to tide us over until the Heaven’s Feel movies start dropping. Based on a video game for the PSP, Fate/Apocrypha is coming to us from the wonderful hands over at ufoTable, the studio that breathed new life into the franchise with their adaptations of Fate/Zero and Unlimited Blade Wo… What? What do you mean ufoTable isn’t handling this?

Who is then?

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Oh.

Oh no.

Okay, think positive J-Dawg, it’s okay. So what if A-1 has released some of the worst shows of the last few years, it’s okay, it’s fine. It’s an adaptation of a Fate/Story, the people involved in writing them out are pretty good at what they do. It isn’t like they’re adapting a Light Novel, hahahahaha.

Huuuuurrrrrrr.

Okay, look, I’ve watched the first two episodes and I enjoyed them thoroughly. Character designs aren’t nearly as awkward and same-facey as most A-1 productions tend to be, which is probably down to these characters already having a pretty well defined designs prior to this production, and the voice acting is pretty solid all around, especially Shirou, taking a turn at being a scheming priest over his usual schtick as a Hero of Justice.

The cinematography is, adequete. There’s some awkward camera angles, mostly in the fight scenes, but its not bad for an A-1 pictures production.

Even if there’s some pretty… A-1y things in here.

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I wonder where they’re trying to draw my eyes?

Even with that said, at the very least its MILES ahead of the Studio DEEN adaptations of /Stay Night and /Unlimited Blade Works, so there’s that I suppose.

But, surprisingly enough, my biggest sticking point with this isn’t actually in any of the A-1isms, although I do have a few minor nitpicks such as the fights looking a bit subpar after half a decade of /Zero and /Unlimited Blade Works 2014 licking my eyes with all of the pretty, pretty particle effects and fluid as balls choreography.

No my issue is with the fact that, come the end of episode 2 we know the identity of every single servant that we’ve met up to this point. Which is 12 of them, and that, for me, is an issue.

People straight up just say the names of their servants, or the servants themselves announce to the world who they happen to be, which isn’t exactly the way things tend to go in these stories. The identity of the servants not only add to the intrigue of the story, they can also be used to craft some beautiful moments of drama and character depth. Concealing Beserker/Zero’s identity right up to the end makes for a gut punch of a reveal, and gets us crying and screaming at the screen, sympathising with the characters on the in front of us.

Its just good story telling, you guys.

Here in Apocypha, nope. Everyone’s names are given, the probably-good guys-and-shifty-Shiro are already aware of the enemy Lancer’s identity and there’s just no drama to these reveals. People are having a conversation, and just randomly blurt out their servant’s identities. That or the servants themselves will just tell people who they are, and that’s just… Just no fun.

Mordred though, now she’s Hella Fun.

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-/-

Quick Side Note while I’ve got you. Fate/Apocrypha will be officially streaming on Netflix from November 7th, 2017, and while I don’t like advocating piracy, unless you live in Japan proper there’s no legit way to watch it just yet outside of living in Japan and watching it on TV, I’m not going to condemn anyone for going the less than legal route.

Even so, I highly advocate supporting the official release once Netflix pulls the finger out and puts up the first 13 episodes at the beginning of November.

Also if, for some reason, a staffer from Netflix is reading this; (Unlikely) anime viewers want to watch this stuff on release, guys. We exist as a community that likes to discuss these things week to week, to compare and contrast our opinions on the shows as well as positing up some theory crafting on the side. By holding the shows you get the rights to hostage until the entire thing is released (And sometimes not even then *Cough* Little Witch Academia *Cough*) you drive people to a state where they’re more likely to pirate simply because they want to join in on the discussion week to week, like I said. Not everything needs to be released whole seasons at a time. Sometimes its okay to just release shows on a week to week basis.