The Suzerain of Dreams

In case you’ve been wondering here’s my recent kickstarter that I’ve been trying to get off the ground. I’ve done my homework .. I have the tools to make it… now I just need to finances to make it happen.

Batman v Superman: Review

(Before the real discussion begins I’d just like to say that 3D is the definitive version of this movie to go to. Usually movies in 3D are nowhere near as good as the 2D or they lose resolution. But for some reason this movie actually got clearer in 3D. I think it might have been becuse they used a 3D camera instead of a 2D but I’m not sure. However, everything in the 3D version for some reason just looks clearer, better, and more defined and more importantly stylistically works within Snyder’s and Fong’s look on the film and the low shallow depth of field on certain shots. Combined with the particles in screen and certain things, like Superman using his laser vision, going from being a meh in the 2D to a Woah that’s cool in 3D. If you don’t take my word for it just go see for yourself.)

So HERE IT IS

FIGHT NIGHT

Black and Blue … Man vs God

And a Whole lot of angry critics following at it’s coat tails all the while trying to sink the ship.

That at least is the narrative that’s been fed from metacritic & rotten-tomatoes and many other review aggregate sites in their approach to reviewing this movie.

And I’m going to go right out ahead and say it …. for the most part a lot of the shellacking, among critics, this movie has been getting is largely … unwarranted.

After I walked out of the Movie Theater I had no clue how this movie could get anything lower than a 6.5/10 AND that is only if I was being of an extremely critical nature and I mean EXTREMELY critical.

In fact if you read any review that complains of the movie being “too dark” or “too gritty” or “not in the spirit of superman” then go ahead and throw that review in the dumpster and burn it. Honest I’m sick and tired of people who just simply don’t get the direction of Snyder’s film style or more importantly of his heavy use of Tenebrism or Chiaroscuro. Someone might say a renaissance painting by Caravaggio is “dark” but that’s not a negative but rather simply a stylistic choice and often is actually a boon.

There are a lot of faults in this movie, but there also is quite a lot of good. Yet, I’d like to make an explanatory note of an issue with movies in general and more often of Comic book movies as a whole.

Anytime extremely high levels of logic (or ill logic in some cases) are applied to any movie of any sort those said movies will fall apart. Part of the magic of movies is that the best ones will sort of “win” you over and at that point (similar to inception in how a person’s subconscious will accept a dream) the person stops trying to decipher or make logic and simply starts accepting or floating through or as some people might say … enjoy it. The vision or dream becomes real and a person’s defenses are lowered and it becomes “good”. Sometimes a movie might do something that brings a person “out” but for the most part most good movies have this and this allows them to bypass a lot of their problems.

With this film I didn’t really see the hook until nearly a quarter of the way through and for the most part if you keep to the hook this movie is actually quite palatable and a quite good. Images of Superman floating down to a crowd at Day of the Dead, or him pulling a ship as shown in the cover image, are incredible combined with the monologue by the talking heads discussing about Superman. The movie asks some very significant questions of the nature of power and more importantly of the nature of having too much power or power that is unchecked. There are a lot of subtle things in this movie that I didn’t see the first time that I eventually did see on the second run through. A LOT and I think part of that may be that I had more time to be critical since I knew what was going to happen. But a lot of inner clock work of the movie revolves around the discussion of whether Clark (Superman) is a God or angelic being or a devil or is he actually just a regular Joe just trying to do the right thing. It approaches super power in a very worldly real way in a sense that it splits and divides opinions and more importantly causes tribal divides of who gets to decide what is right and wrong.

And for this reason it’s the saving grace of the movie. Everything in the movie falls into this discussion. It’s messy, it’s interesting, and also highly philosophical which is part of the reason why it goes over so many people’s heads.

Contrary to popular opinion this movie is NOT a comic book movie. Rather it asks what would happen if you put the comic book versions of the characters into a REAL world and let loose what might happen. This point is hammered home especially by the fact that events within the film are heavily interlocking in discussion of how their are so many illogical choices going on so to speak among some of the characters and those involved. However, as we all know the real world isn’t perfect and in fact people often make highly illogical choices. I’ll go into depth on some of these choices below in my spoiler area where I address some issues I think aren’t issues but we’ll get there.

Now for the seams of the movie. If ever there are any points in a film that I could have edited a movie together then I instantly start notching off points, so to speak. In this film there were quite a few to be honest and some of the intros to Justice League hints felt FAR too long and could have been done more tastefully and more quickly. In this regard to editing my friend explained to me that the movie felt like a, “directors cut,” and to that end I would entirely agree. The stuff that is tightly edited however, is done exceptionally well. Still that leaves quite a bit of extra drag on the film that easily could have left out a good 15 to 20 minutes of unnecessary footage.

As for the actual movie’s production value though … holy cow is it good. It might seem like a steep price that the movie cost 250 mil to make but every cent of those dollars are in the film. Visually speaking it looks at times like a moving Renaissance painting by Caravaggio and I love that aspect. The CGI visuals are some of the best that you will ever see on screen and are FAR superior to anything you’ll ever see in a Marvel movie. Even my friend who isn’t a big Superhero guy but sees some of the movies commented to me, “dude that was way more intense than anything Marvel releases,” to which I agreed. The fight scenes are great too with everything clicking on all cylinders once it gets going. Not to mention Batman’s fighting in this film is absolutely top notch. I don’t think we’ll ever get a Batman that is quite as good as this one on screen. I mean Ben Affleck is the Batman from the Arkham games incarnate in movement and in how he handles himself. Maybe a little brutish but he gets the job done. Gal Gadot as wonder woman earned cheers in every showing of the film that I went to. But what was most surprising of a standout for me was Perry White whose dialogue, I felt, humanized and added some extra humor besides also being informative. His line, “breaking news crime wave in Gotham, in other news … water wet,” while being I think hilarious was also something that gives context for just how bad Gotham is. Along with Jeremy Irons’ Alfred you get actually a pretty funny movie between the 2 that lightens it up when it needs.

However, the stand out by far was Lex Luthor under Jesse Eisenberg’s command. In him you get an idea of a man who as he explains is trapped by the fact that supposedly “knowledge is power” and yet he really isn’t all that powerful compared to Clark. He even says it himself that its “paradoxical” that it should be that way and therein lies his reasoning for going after Clark. He can’t stand someone who asks to be above everyone in every way in the manner of which Superman is. Which his monologue, about half of the way through, explains and in many ways elevates his performance.

All of this works to make a movie which while has some problems is overall I think good. However, if you don’t get all the referential material and are just coming into comics or don’t recognize the para-demons per say in one sequence then I’d understand that.

For those people the score is – 7/10

Now for those people who are comic book fans they’ll know what is going on a little more and be a little more forgiving for misteps – 8/10

And if you’re like me and enjoy the philosophical discussion going on throughout the film of power and morality and defining those then you’ll proably give it this score – 8.5/10

To be honest Zach takes a lot of risks in this movie and is quite brave for it. I know of no superhero movie to date that has tackled this issue of morality of who gets to decide the morality that is enforced. With it being the first notable comic book movie to ask this question Zach wins me over. He brings to light the question of is it right that Superman decides unilaterally whats right and wrong and I think he does a good job fleshing that question out.

BELOW I try to answer some questions for people who haven’t seen the movie.






SPOILER ALERT

Ok so I’ll just answer some common questions about people’s problems in this movie.

1) the opening scene how can they pin it on superman since they used bullets and well … he’s superman.

A: Well first off if you notice that while the contractors are leaving the scene they are burning the village and people.  That alone would leave very little evidence that they shot the villagers. When someone tells later that all they heard was shooting … then the sound of Superman’s arrival and then come outside to see walls destroyed and burning bodies everywhere no matter how educated they are they will equate that he used his laser vision on them or something else to kill the people. Combined with as the Lady said that the Army came in after and destroyed the whole place that would leave very little chance of evidence to refute the person’s claims.

2) Why does Lex Luthor hate Superman? He seems quite unreasonable to me.

A: He’s not unreasonable at all. In fact out of all of the people in the movie he’s potentially the most reasonable. He views superman as a threat because unlike other humans, of whom he is of similar intellect and commonality, superman is beyond and far more powerful. He can outsmart or out hire or do whatever is necessary on humanly levels to beat other people, but Superman breaks that equation because there is nothing Lex can do about Superman’s power. However, he realizes he can’t just outright kill Superman so as a result he gives him the ultimate test. God is good and yet not all powerful (equates to him being a good man that is killed by Batman) or he is All powerful and yet not all good (He kills Batman proving he triumphs over the ultimate gladiator human but yet proves that he isn’t good by killing someone that is respected as bringing Justice in Gotham). If he goes through the test properly either it will remove Superman or it will prove that he is a fraud which is what Lex wants. Lex wants Superman out of the picture. Either by human methods because he knows Superman is a boy-scout and will follow human jurisdiction placed on him (if he does murder) or by killing him. Doomsday is just the ace card to finish the job if things don’t go to plan and, judging by the manner in which he greets Clark at the ship before Doomsday’s birth, its fair to say he realized he hadn’t succeeded and so was ready to have him birthed. If Superman had followed what he said and ended up with the 2 conclusions probably he’d have just cancelled Doomsday’s birth which is important to note that he DID have control up until he was birthed.

3) So the CIA knows Superman didn’t kill those people in Africa they are smart. They know its a setup. Why don’t they just vindicate him?

A: Well see that’s the kicker. They know and yet just like a real government they realize they could use something false or real or something misconstrued to get Superman to basically come under their jurisdiction or for political action. Imagine if you had the chance of putting a massive powerful being in your back pocket and being able to whip him out whenever you needed to. So at the court hearing they probably were most likely going to put the kobosh on supes and bring him under human control. Of course no one saw that Bomb coming (which I thought was awesome btw) so Lex uses it to pit Batman against supes so he can set up the situation that he needs and effectively negating the chance that Superman will become the U.S. government’s pet super powered enforcer.

4) How did Lex Luthor figure out that Superman was Clark and that Batman was Bruce Wayne.

A: Superman would have been easy. All he’d have to see is like he mentioned … direct line. He mentions how everyone is thinking circles when in fact it’s triangles and direct lines of contact. Which of course would have led him to Lois Lane interestingly because she’s the first one who leaked anything about him. Following this he probably would have kept an eye on her at which point it would have been easily realized that Clark was Superman. The rest following would have been easy. As for Batman, Lex probably figured that the only person with the Money and time to be Batman would have been someone who was of an elite aspect like Bruce who had the money, time, and technology to become him. Lex is very smart and him figuring out that Bruce is Batman isn’t quite as far fetched as one might imagine considering he did it in the comics as well.

5) Batman doesn’t kill? So why did he kill in the Nightmare scene and in the warehouse scene with the flame-thrower guy and of course the numerous usage of his Gatling guns.

A: To be fair this is a very violet version of Batman and as I would put it is someone who is a more worldly realized version of Batman. I’d always thought that the idea that Batman “doesn’t kill” was something that would never hold up in the real world if put under any actually duress and this movie shows that. If you notice Batman really only returns lethal fire on people when they put lethal fire on him. He returns what he gets. The mini-gun fires on him and he returns with his own guns. When in the plane getting shot at by .50 cals he returns fire afterward with his own mini-guns so in fairness his rules are different but he does have them. The guy is about to throw a grenade and he kicks the dude into an area with his own grenade. For the most part he tries to mitigate damage as much as possible. Like he destroys different dudes guns and he doesn’t kill the dude with the knife he just pins him to the wall (you’ll notice him moving around afterward). And of course the flamethrower. I’ve honestly thought of situations like this numerous times with Superheroes and to be honest I’ve always thought that under logical decisions of duress if the hero is asked to they will do whatever is necessary to save an innocent life. Soldiers do it all the time, cops do it, swat does it, I mean we sniper dudes who are threatening people all the time. So it makes sense to me that Batman would make a judgement call like that and simply get rid of the guy. Like the dude is straight up telling Batman that he’ll torch a woman in front of him which is why his line, “I believe you is,” is so poignant. He knows this guy has just made out his death sentence. The actual most illogical part of the scene was the fact that he was holding an M60 in one arm. I’m sorry but an M60 cannot be carried in one arm easily no matter if you’re rambo.

(side note: apparently this part was pulled almost exclusively from the dark knight returns which is awesome. here’s a pic.
Batman-Dark-Knight-Returns-02-064

(he finishes the sentence by saying, “I believe you just like in the movie,”)

6) Superman didn’t have to die … they could have given the spear to wonder woman and then she could have done it.

Maybe but as shown she had already been fighting him (keeping him down with the lasso and such). Is he supposed to toss it to her and then he takes the lasso or some other thing or what? I mean Clark’s never been the brightest guy considering everything involved so he’s probably thinking that if he stabs Doomsday he’ll be weak or die, but instead that just makes him angry and frees him from the Lasso. Plus at the point its better not to think that these people are going to be incredibly logical. They’re just trying to kill the dang dude.

7) That line by Superman about Lois being his world was stupid.

Actually it wasn’t. The whole film is all about the fact that Superman of the 1938 version everyone loves could not EXIST in this world we have to today. Similar to Jesus the real world would crucify the guy for who he is which is just a regular dude with Super powers trying to do what he thinks is right. The problem becomes who is Clark to say what is right and wrong? Who is he to decide by executive fiat who gets saved and who doesn’t? Everyone is asking him if he’s for his world or for their world or their tribe or their beliefs and yet at the end he says no to all of that. Instead he tells Lois that she is his world. That is why it’s a great introspection into his character. He rejects what the world wants him to be and what his Kryptonian parents want him to be and is what he wants to be which is someone who is willing sacrifice everything for the one that he loves. She is his world.

That’s pretty much all the majors ones hopefully I’ve addressed them. If you’d like to talk about them let me know.

The Poet vs The Rebel

The Poet vs The Rebel
Coldplay vs Pink Floyd
Inner vs Outer

That is a question that has been on my mind recently and more importantly since I had a discussion at work of whether Coldplay was a “great band”. This mostly driven by the upcoming Superbowl performance which by many standards some feel is overdue especially considering that most of the best work of they made was almost 10 years ago.

Now from pure statistics Coldplay is a great band and will go down in history as one of the greatest Alternative rock bands of the Era along with U2 for their style of high crescendo guitar riffs with changes to beats and experimental rhythms. Combined with Chris’ unique voice and falsetto they have their own following and particular style and sound. They regularly feature their work in the upper brackets charts wise and they sell very good overall and their concerts are always stacked.

So I was surprised when I heard this retort that they weren’t a “great band”. The person I was having the discussion with immediately pointed me to “Pink Floyd” as a rock band that is “great” so to speak. Now I very rarely listen to pink floyd so I had to do my research because growing up my parents were more accustomed to having me listen to Huey Lewis and the News. Now don’t get me wrong I’d know about Pink Floyd and I HAD heard their songs as I’m sure everyone has at some point. But I never gone out of my way to study them, listen to their music, and trying to look at them in depth.

This resulted in me over the past week listening to Pink Floyd quite a bit. Looking at their lyrics online as well as looking at particular thoughts that people have had on them as a band in total ranging over various online sources and social medias.  Are they overrated or underrated. Listening to their top hits and looking at the lyrics etc.

What formed were these thoughts and especially why both these bands are great … but in their own respects and coming from totally different perspectives on life and more importantly for each other.

To put it simply the conclusion that I came to was that Coldplay was more introspective while Pink Floyd was more externally motivated or looking at the outside of things.

It was like the innards of Inception to the vastness of space with Interstellar. They’re both similar in many ways and in how they are approached. The outcomes and end points and start points are widely different.

And they are both incredible by many standards because of this as they are almost two sides of the same coin yet the undeniable separation remains.

An example of this is how Coldplay often dives into the introspective on life. They talk about breaking up and they talk about how it feels in an intricate manner to be in love with someone. In the case of Viva La Vida its going from gaining power to losing it and how it all really doesn’t matter in the end because you’ve missed what was important. The Scientist deals with a man lover realizing that he’s choked out his love with his trenchant usage for logic in everything when there are many things that cannot be quantified such as love, relationships, and deep meaning.

They don’t evoke a man on the corner making a call to action but rather a man in a field writing poetry about something he loves from the deep recesses of his heart.

They’re poets through and through and this is none more evident than in the way they’re music goes along. It’s rhythmic, the lyrics rhyme well, and more importantly they’re dive into heavy self criticism within they’re songs that feels genuine such as with they’re song Trouble.

Trouble
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHg-PhseKOQ

For example here’s some of my favorite lines from them…

“You put me on a line
And hung me out to dry
And darling that’s when I
Decided to go to see you

You cut me down to size
And opened up my eyes
Made me realize
What I could not see

And I could write a book
The one they’ll say that shook
The world, and then it took
It took it back from me”

Here’s some more of they’re songs in case you are interested.

Viva la Vida
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgZkm1xWPE

Fix You
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4V3Mo61fJM

The Scientist
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB-RcX5DS5A

They focus on the problems within versus the problems that are external to them. It’s the classic case of someone who tends to judge themselves the hardest. Rarely do they ever make externalized songs in the sense of change or problems and usually it’s subtle or a “run away” song.
In fact out of all of their songs there is only a direct example of this with the song Violet Hill.

Violet Hill
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IakDItZ7f7Q

The outcome of this is that Coldplay develops itself into a band which is almost Neo-Romanticism. It’s abstract internal but more importantly relational and self-critical.

Now lets compare this with Pink Floyd. Growing out of the 1960’s with the social upheavals that were happening one could easily make the case that some of that eventually manifest itself into Pink Floyd and the music they produced which was genre breaking at the time. Indeed they’re sounds are incredibly distinct but even more so they dive into very deep issues externally speaking. For example being numb to the world outside, or feeling as though you are just another “brick in the wall”. Money, which is probably one of the most well known songs that they ever produced and continues in various forms, uses a cash register for one of it’s beats and talks into how money ruins and kills things and consumes life. Even a song that is relational in natures with Wish You Were Here talks about the relationship in regards to the surrounding societal and political landscape.

They are charged politically in every sense of the word and they approach from the external like a Rebel with banners in hand. Like many of those who rose up in the 1960’s to fight for their particular interests so does Pink Floyd but in a more direct, physical, and external manner.

They are the Vox Populi the champion of ideas unheard and ideals that are oppressed by modern society.

Here are some examples

Another Brick in the Wall
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR5ApYxkU-U

Money
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpbbuaIA3Ds

Wish You Were Here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXdNnw99-Ic

Interestingly enough the songs that I think are some of the best from either Band are those that are more introspective than extrospective. In Pink Floyd I personally think that this is one of their best songs.

Comfortably Numb
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7EpSirtf_E

So in the end we have to diametrically opposed positions trying to solve problems that are pitted against humanity at its heart. Inside versus Outside so to speak with these two bands and that was when I realized something … this could apply to numerous things within humanity and it’s problem.

On one spectrum you have those who view problems as being internal (Classical Liberalist or Conservative) who views problems as being of those of issue of enforcement and that human nature is naturally evil. Meanwhile on the flip side there is the side that believe society is the cause of problems and a perfection of said society will perfect people (modern liberalism and progressive). One says fix the parts while the other says fix the machine’s designs. Bottom Up or Top Down. A very interesting discussion indeed.

And this divergence goes down to the core of both bands. Just take the artwork used for both band’s album covers.

Pink Floyd regularly uses realistic places items and physical external pieces to make it’s album covers. One of it’s most famous covers features a man who is actually physically on fire shaking the hands. Not only is this incredible to have done but the image is evocative and direct. The usage of the light hitting the prism for the “Dark Side of the Moon” album details how they wish to make known and break down light into understandable pieces and to reveal the problems so to speak. Absolutely impressive work overall.

Meanwhile, Coldplay’s covers feature abstract images, signs, and numerous other semiotics at its disposal to tell it’s own stories. They feature artwork more often than physical places. Everything from angel wings to graffiti walls to even in renaissance paintings with logos over top (again diving into that Neo-Romanticism). Or my favorite the images from Rush of Blood to the Head which features a polygonal head seemingly whisking away in the wind of the digital space.

Again external and physical versus internal and abstract.

Even down to the usage of orchestras and accompanying instruments is in this manner. Coldplay used for example angelic and heavenly sounding sounds you might hear at a church for the opening to Always in my Head. Pink Floyd meanwhile as mentioned earlier used a cash register for it’s opening of Money.

Part of me wonders where others stand on this issue.

The head in me appreciates Pink Floyd ….

But the poet in me cries out for Coldplay.

Enter the “Normal Guy” hero

One of the things that I realized frustrated me about the recent Star Wars movie (besides a multitude of things I needed to be done better). Was the fact that the titular heroes had no progression. They simply picked up the things that they had and were absolute naturals.

While one might consider it the force or luck that Rey whooped up on Kylo Ren in her first usage of a light saber I find it suspect and also very much bad writing and a reliance of deus ex machina to cover up the lack of growth that the characters need.

So will Rey be even more powerful in the next film? Will she be shredding Kylo next round instead of it being slightly close?

Maybe

But what is more startling is the fact that the digression was completely gone and its something I’m noticing more and more with super hero movies and also in general with movies the feature heroes common or uncommon. They’re throwing out their learning and grounded aspects for more flashier and packed in films. Yet, by doing so they are discarding the one thing that makes heroes worth watching and more importantly relateable and also teachable to us in a mirroring sort of manner. I call it the “common guy” thread or the “diamond in the rough” trope or the “nerd/geek dude” hero.

While some movies take this to almost hilariously high tropiness this is probably one of the most powerful connectors to good heroes on film and often has nothing to do with his martial skills or prowess but his relateable aspects in his character and his approach to problems.

Combined with how a hero grows he/she could become very interesting and emotionally as the mature it is always interesting from wide eyed Luke in episode 4 to dressed black Luke in episode 6.

Still, I thought I’d take the time to list some of my favorites and moments which were quite poignant in two characters that are the best example of this, Sokka and Columbus.

In the case of Sokka he is the ultimate journeyman from Avatar: the Last Airbender and as such he is usually the comic relief. But what happens when you take the comic relief give him actual feelings and provide a very interesting take on being normal in a world full of super powered people? Well you get some of the best “common guy” bonding around.

I remember seeing this when I was a sophomore or junior in highschool and still remember feeling exactly like Sokka. You’re weird, you don’t really have any eligible skills to be a hero and yet your weirdness is your greatest strength it turns out and what separates you from everyone else who seems to just follow the herd.
It’s a great example for turning a character that you don’t normally like into someone quite likable largely due to just good building of empathy and real action and relateable emotions.

Here are some of my favorite scenes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4rAJ97qwzU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiEX2OL5o-M

Late on Sokka would go on to do some really incredible stuff in the show but it was these moments that solidified our care for him in our own world.

Whereas Columbus is a little different in that his world seems to be strife with something that we see all the time such as Zombies into a familiarized role. However, rather than try to estrange and dive into the fantasies of the zombies and all they bring into the world the movie “Zombieland” directly shies away from it using zombies really only as the side stage for the more interesting human to human contact.

However, particularly one cool scene stood out to me which is when Columbus and Wichita are sipping some late night wine talking and sharing knowing that very likely they’re never going to be together. This scene is the best scene in the film largely because it builds on the belief that nice shy guys are actually really cool and could win the girl over so to speak if given the chance. He mentions how he’d never been asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance before. Boom huge key in and major connector to it’s audience which largely is mostly men between the ages of 16 – 25 who aren’t jocks and probably aren’t doused in women. Immediately you have that connection to your age group and it builds on it by having him slowly but more surely cozy up to Wichita which is every nice guys’ dream right of getting the girl? While this might be cliche this was one of the first movies I saw that had a direct real world parallel to a guy who was by all intents and purposes pretty normal. He wasn’t flashy, but that unflashiness is exactly what makes him a great hero and someone we can look up to later as he does become a hero and does do incredible stuff.

For some context here’s a another great zombieland clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TemLwQrhYeQ

Anyways these are just a couple of my thoughts on the subject take em as you wish or maybe comment on some others you’ve never thought of.

– BW

Review: Star Wars – the Force Awakens

OR DOES IT simply re-awaken or is it in a time-loop? OR worse yet … is it simply lost to a time continuum paradox where it can’t escape it’s own greatness.

Ok so before I start off this review know that there are going to be spoilers. So WARNING SPOILERS

OK.

So as far as my assessment of Star Wars the Force Awakens there is little that could be said of this movie production value wise. It’s a VERY well made movie and there really were only sloppy parts in a few scenes. Even when I could see the seams of the film as someone who understand film compositing I gotta say it’s pretty well done even there and a hat must be tipped off to J.J. and the band at Bad Robot who managed to make it work through and through.

For doing this alone usually that garners me to at least give it a positive score and if a film manages to amp up the production values from there it’s only positives to gain so in that regard rest assured my review won’t be scathing.

However, there are two versions of this review and two ways to approach it. One is as a movie junkie or as a Star Wars fan who has watched the movies and loves the stories in and of themselves. More importantly these people make up a majority of those who watched this film and the previous and rest assured they will enjoy it thoroughly. From the subtle wink winks to the not so subtle continuous telegraphing of the plot that appears within the film and even in the trailers it’s an incredible enjoyable film. This is reflected in me when I watched in the first time. I enjoyed all the highs and lows, I cheered when the millennium falcon showed up, and consequently got a little choked up when Han Solo died. It was the Star Wars I grew up with as a kid and I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me just to sit back and relax and relive it.

Then there is the ULTRA fanboy within me that screams to me in my head as though blood has been spilt all over the floor. Star Wars’ lifeforce blood to be told. Something within me rejected it, I sensed a very large and powerful corporation attempting to weave a spell and pull one GIGANTIC Jedi mind trick on top of ALL of us and specifically speaking they’re seemingly have. Now before you question my line of reasoning I’d just like to mention my Star Wars credentials if you will.

When I was young I loved Star Wars. I didn’t like or sort of enjoy I LOVED it and importance on the word love. Every weekend or every other when my parents were busy me and my brothers and sisters used to sit down and watch the Star Wars (original trilogy). When the re-releases came out me and my cousins would buy all of the action figures and collect a few and play with the rest. For books I used to exclusively read ONLY star wars books. This became so bad in 5th grade that my librarian teacher, who was a friend of my mom, complained to her that she was having trouble getting me to diversify my reading habits. Eventually she managed to get me to read other Science Fiction but that pretty much as far as she got me (Shadows of the Empire is awesome btw). I don’t think that I finally ventured into new reading territory until I got into either 6th grade or 7th grade and even then with Star Wars in full swing I still loved reading comics about or TV shows or even reading long posts on Wookipedia about different various subjects. I enjoyed the prequels but not as much. Played numerous board games (don’t challenge me in Star Wars Trivia Pursuit … I know the attack pattern of the snow speeders on hoth … yes that is a question). For Toys I loved Legos. But when Star Wars lego sets came out it almost had a heart attack and proceeded to buy or collect or order Star Wars legos at every chance that I got.

THEN there were the videogames … don’t even get me started ooohhh my gosh. I remember my Dad taking us into a Fry’s Electronics as a treat when we were on our year long missionary Furlough in San Jose to buy a computer game. He asked us what we wanted and immediately me and my sister gravitated to a Star Wars triple pack of games (It had rebel assault 1 & 2, Dark Forces, X-Wing). Me and my sister played those games to death. I think we stopped playing them when our disks simply couldn’t be used anymore. After that my cousin Kyle collected the Jedi Knight games which we also played to death such as Jedi Knight, Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, and Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Academy. My love for Star Wars games go to extreme bounds such as playing Knights of the Old: Republic, Force Unleashed, and even Star Wars: Empire at War.

What even more interesting is the fact that out of Star Wars I got interested with anything that had a “Star” in it at a young age. For example, Star Craft which I’ve loved because of it’s grittier approach to many of the same high space opera sensibilities that Star Wars also beholds to.

The other day I calculated how much time I’d spent roughly and I realized that I’d probably assuredly spent more than 10,000 hours in Star Wars related media and even its more acute sensibilities. I mean considering that I know enough about the Jedi and Sith that I even know some of the theology and can recite whole sections of the movie and voices (and sounds … looking at you ewoks) you could say I have the bad case of Star Wars being ingrained in my head. I can’t escape it.

So naturally when I saw this movie it began to dawn on me, “what is this movie trying to copycat Star Wars?” It failed the tast test and I’ll tell you a very simple but pointed reason why. George Lucas wasn’t involved. While this is probably for the best it resulted in a look that felt like Star Wars but while like J.J.’s recent Star Trek Films it just seemed close but incomplete. Whereas George Lucas would pan back and let you take in the action sequences and had a more slower and rythmic pacing to shots J.J. will ramp it up suddenly and take you at a full brisk pace even when lots of action is involved. The color grading seemed slightly off for some reason in many of the shots until later in the movie when the color grading was easier because it was an Imperial Base (grey and white light red) and Ice Planet (bluish white and greys). Even the movies visuals were all like they were trying to mimic something that had come before it which, thematically I understood within the movie’s history but still, didn’t make sense.

And then there was the fan service. Ohh my gosh don’t even get me started. I knew this film would have a lot but when they did it multiple times and pretty obviously it just kinda took away the second time I watched it. I like the more subtle fan service hints they did such as background dialogue or the training droid and I get why they did do it but do you need to do it ALL the time. That when I realized that this movie wasn’t being made by the the creator or someone who knew and loved the depth about Star Wars but rather someone who was the complete and utter ultimate fan boy. Seriously watch the film and think to yourself this is the ultimate fan made or fan service movie and then you will be quite surprised how much you realize afterwards doesn’t hold quite up.

Shoddy light saber fights that are slower in many ways and less well thought out than even the originals which by all extents were rather slow. I thought I was watching people swinging laser claymores rather than the extremely pliable, quick, and almost samurai-esque photon katana’s we’d seen even in the originals. You have an extreme case almost of two movies, one which is J.J. Abrams, and the parts which the studio execs DEMANDED be in the movie. Like who in their right mind spends another couple decimillion credits into a PLANET Death Star that once again has a MASSIVE fatal engineering flaw with an openly attackable (by air and by ground) mechanism which if it fails blows up the entire station.  Like you’d think that they would have learned they’re lesson after the first 2 Death Stars that maybe just maybe they needed to rethink they’re methods of building gigantic super-weapons that were susceptible to attack my small 1 man fighters that evade their turbo-lasers. First time Luke used the force = ok. Second time = maybe should have built smaller exhaust ports. Third time = now your just being inane.

Combined with the numerous points at which I ran into telegraphic of plot point problems this movie has and you are looking at something that is a hodge podge that needs serious fixing especially from a logic and story standpoint. Now the previous movies did telegraph stories at certain points and that’s ok and in this movie it’s passable because the actors are good (especially daisy ridley), the special effects are good, and the dialogue is all good. However, in many ways I almost feel as though they could have brought in a few other things and pulled out a few others and it would have made for a far more entertaining movie. Such as for example what if instead of Star Killer base you instead insert “The Eclipse” Dreadnought star destroyer which would have made for a far more interesting movie I think and visually speaking would be more oppresive and interesting. Then you have the “Eclipse” en route to the rebel base on a lush planet when it gets take out by x-wings and an epic fight on the bridge between Kylo and Han Solo and Rey and Fin and crash lands on an ice planet. You could still have that epic Han Solo and Kylo Ren moment and the confrontation in the woods but it changes the feeling and pacing of the film and gives it more of a kinetic direction that previous films of impending doom if the eclipse reaches the Rebel Base. Different enough to be interesting but having similar feelings.

So my final verdict is

8/10
But why so low you ask?

Well see now on if there had been no other extra stories outside of the movies and I had not enjoyed them I wouldn’t have had a problem with this movie. But considering that they destroyed the entire Expanded Universe including the novels, the videogames, and even what I think are some of the best bunch of Star Wars stories in one fell swoop at Disney’s bidding I must say many fanboys cried out in agony as if a great loss had been felt. So Mara Jade doesn’t exist or Dash Rendar but all the while Clone Wars and Rebels (which are abominations) live on as canon? Or  take “the Knights of the Old Republic” which I think should have been the new star wars films. (Even Richard Linklater hints to this in “Boyhood” which I completely agreed with and totally got when they began mentioning it in the film). The story arc of Darth Revan, if they ever make those films, would elevate Star Wars into some serious themes and bring it to full fruition and potentiality. Or force unleashed which goes into depth on the 20 year gap between the 3rd and 4th films and which are awesome. But NAH we’ll just steal visuals from every nook and cranny such as Revan’s Mask (Kylo Ren’s Mask) … or Darth Malak’s ability to steal thoughts (Ren Again) or even the Sith Emperor (Snoke) or even names StarKiller Base (Galen “Starkiller” Marek(Force Unleashed) or Bendak “Starkiller”(KOTOR) or Daisy Ridley’s “Rey” (Bastila Shan). But like always profits come before anything else along with making sure you can tell whatever stories you want. But even though the EU was struck down to become something far greater than you can possible imagine I just wished they hadn’t paved over the bones so quick.

BTW :I basically wrote down what I thought the basic Storyline of the movie would be after seeing all the trailers and my movie plot was about 90% correct except for a few changes. Further making this worse afterward I read another persons basic storyline and they were about 98% percent correct even down to the Kylo Ren and Han Solo confrontation and the movie ending with Luke Skywalker meeting Rey so yeah it was VERY predictable.

#winning

This is a documented history of my luck or I guess being a Christian the benevolence of God so take it as you will but for some reason me and my friends win stuff.

(NOTE: If anything is missing from this list please post and let me know so I can update it. LOOKING at you Nook Cottage bros.)

So something hilarious happened on Saturday at the recent InstaMeet Drive … I won again albeit I wasn’t even there.

Here’s the gist of what happened. I was hungry because I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. So I left for about 15 – 25 min to get chow at Wendy’s and when I came back Jonathan Bidwell told me I’d won something or some swag. Glasses to be precise. So this got me thinking that maybe I should document everything that I have ever won … plus a couple of friend’s winnings as well. (After all were pretty lucky). Some I won by entering a competition others by simply being present and participating.

Clippers Tickets                  2012                  IntraMural Basketball Championships

Movie Tickets                      2012                  IntraMural Volleyball Championships

Beats Headphones             2012                  Midnight Madness Secret Santa

Gift Card (Substantial)        2012                  School CLA Test

In-n-out Giftcard                 2013                   U.P. Men’s Barbeque

Triton Headphones            2013                   Gaming Salon Raffle

CBU Cruiser Bike              2014                   Provider Student Workers T-Shirt Design Contest

Movie Tickets                    2014                   IntraMural Volleyball Championships

HackPoly T-Shirt/Swag     2015                   Cal Poly Pomona Hackathon 2015 – “Best Design”/”Design Off”

Pair of Thieves Socks/T’s 2015                    Manhattan Beach InstaMeet

Tens Sunglasses              2015                    Corona Restoration Roasters InstaMeet

 

(For the record I just want to say I was ONE digit away from winning a ULTRABOOK Laptop at Blizzcon so that was a rare “so-close” moment for me. The last digit was a 7  … I had a 6.)

 

By My Friends

Kindle Fire (Christian Hassler)                         2012                    IntraMural Volleyball Championships

50″ Flatscreen HDTV (Jon Cox)                      2013                    IntraMural Basketball Championships

Nike Fuel Band (Mitchell Sweetman)              2014                    IntraMural Volleyball Championships

The Full-time Blues

I figured I’d write a little about something I’ve been contemplating now for some time. Now that I’ve been working for a good couple of months and have managed to run into a bunch of other young recently graduated students our discussion fell into the rather interesting topic of work but in a more general sense.

There was a group of four of us and complete strangers at a large gathering over the weekend and we began to get into a discussion of loneliness particularly amongst people our age who recently have left school to get real jobs and enter into the workforce.

None the less eventually one of the people I was talking to started to mention how lonely they were and how even though they go to work and do things they’d come home every day and then wouldn’t do much afterward. I couldn’t help but empathize with the person since often I have felt those same feelings especially since starting to work full time for long periods. Previously when I had worked full time during summers it was something that while I knew was necessary to pay for school, and also to pay for many other things, it would eventually end. However, since starting full time which could possibly happen for the rest of my life it’s come to my realization that often one gets what I call the “Full-Time Blues” which I am going to coin at some point.

As we continued to talk many of the things he mentioned were events I could recall from the previous months such as: working a lot but not really have too much good free-time, being unable to spend time with friends, feeling aloof from work place co-workers, but more importantly feeling like you are in between stages.

That last one especially was something I’d been feeling for some time. For example, you are out of school and you need to work to pay off your college loans. However, you probably aren’t actually making enough money to be able to save very much at all unless you are living quite frugally. On top of this is the compounded problem I’ve come to of the realization of loneliness but not true isolation. You still may talk to many people during the course of your day and it is very like you get along at work. However, the depth of your conversations and particularly the frequency of close relations is lacking. This is something I’ve come to notice when it came to the differences between college and full time work.

At school you are very nearly forced to live around and be around people all the time, especially if you are living on campus. Combined with the fact that by the time you reach your sophomore year you’ve made often close friends, that you’ve shared living experiences with, it makes for an interesting time in your life where people from different backgrounds, fields of work, and interests can be forced to coalesce into a formidable friendship due to necessity. Those friendships allow you to be able to be frank, blunt, or whatever you need to be as a friend but more importantly they’re pure friendships. There is no inner ring or sort of working into these as one might say. Rather they simply happen and as a end result they’re beautiful to behold.

Thinking of this the dichotomy of my predicament became plain. While now working I was enjoying that I was able to have money and pay my debts but more importantly make my way in the world as a responsible adult. However, I lost a little of something, I lost my friends.  I’ll never forget the moment I realized that in my frugality and relative lack of riches while in College I had some of the best moments of my life with my friends and a deep contentment from people who likely will be my friends for the rest of my life. But now that I’m working full time I have money. I could go out every weekend so to speak and I could enjoy myself. The only problem is that there are few friends to enjoy it with and even fewer who aren’t up to their necks with either work, familial duties, and also general chores. That makes getting even a few of us together feels like a parting of the red sea.

What once were late night burger runs and deep meaningful conversations that build strong relationships have turned into late nights binge watching TV by myself and thinking about having to go through the daily routine of colloquial barrage of work talk that very rarely is able to satiate most desires for true friendships and intimacy.

Rich in rags. Yet sad in payment. I wonder if anyone else is experiencing the Full-time Blues.