Tag Archives: Movies

Why I Love My Local Indie Theater

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I love movie theaters because every single one is different. The AMC theater in Times Square is nothing like the theater in Disney World. Two theaters under the same franchise in the same town can be completely different. So when I went to my local indie theater for the first time to watch a beautiful documentary called The Eagle Huntress I was excited. What would a small theater that only plays indie films be like? I was pleasantly surprised. At the ticket counter unlike regular movie theaters there are special shirts specifically for the theater that you can buy. The popcorn bag sizes are cute and petite compared to the usual giant bags of popcorn. The soft drink sizes are also a lot more reasonable than a small soda you would get at AMC. There was local candy that I could get as well as the normal M&M’s.

The service was great; everyone was very friendly and helpful. That’s something you don’t experience in regular movie theaters. The theater only had three studios but they were very impressive. Two of the studios were large enough to fit about sixty people while the third studio that I went to could only hold about thirty people. The studios and the theater’s bathroom were very clean which is always nice.

As nice as this theater was I still love regular theaters because that’s where you can go see blockbusters in IMAX which is one of my favorite things to do. It’s refreshing to watch indie films though because they aren’t like blockbusters where something is exploding every twenty or so minutes. They instead are good movies that you really have to listen to which I love. If it wasn’t for my local indie theater I would’ve never known about Ahshopan’s great story in The Eagle Huntress. I can’t wait to go back to see another wonderful documentary or a movie that engages you in its quiet storytelling.

I will always love IMAX theaters for the wonderful memories they have given me all of these years but my local indie theater now has a special place in my heart.

My List of the Star Wars Movies from Worst to Best

There are now eight Star Wars movies to enjoy. All of them are better than the average movie but some do fall short of greatness. So on that note let me start the listing.

8. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

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I love Star Wars. Ever since I was a baby Star Wars has filled my world with a magic unlike any other. Unfortunately this film is simply bad in terms of Star Wars standards. Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Anakin Skywalker is horrible. He comes across as a whiny brat whose struggling between his duty as a Jedi and his love for Padme. Padme goes from being the really cool queen of Naboo to a senator infatuated with a boy who she knew when he was nine years old (yuck.) Their scenes together, which are a large portion of the movie, completely ruin this film. The romance between them on Naboo is cringe worthy and the Tatooine sequence supposedly revealing the beginning of Anakin turning to the dark side falls short of anything meaningful. One of the worst scenes in the entire movie is when Anakin talks to Padme after his mother’s death. It’s supposed to be an intense scene but thanks to the terrible acting from Christensen it turns into a sort of joke.

Now the scenes with Obi-Wan are great. I love the cool Jedi library. His scenes on the amazing planet, Kamino and Geonosis are wonderful. His fight with Jango Fett, on Kamino and in the asteroid ring, are some of my favorite parts of this movie. Unfortunately this isn’t a movie only about him and that’s when the film drops considerably. One time when I watched this movie I skipped all of the Naboo scenes, which are the worst section of the film, and the movie was ten times better.

The last twenty or so minutes of the movie are okay. The arena part is decently entertaining, the large battle is alright, the lightsaber duel between Count Dooku, Obi-Wan, and Anakin is boring, the fight between Yoda and Dooku was supposed to be epic but fell very short (and that’s not a pun.) And I don’t even watch the final scene when Anakin and Padme get married because what’s the point. All in all, this is the worst Star Wars film.

7. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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I like The Phantom Menace. This movie introduced some really cool new characters to the Star Wars universe like Qui-Gon, who died, and Darth Maul, who was obviously resurrected in the cartoons. There are some good scenes like the pod race which I still enjoy to this day and the space battle. This film is number seven on my list however because it’s kind of boring, Anakin as a little boy is slightly annoying and Jar Jar Binks is the worst co-star of any of the Star Wars movies. Before the new Star Wars movies that have come out in the last two years Jar Jar didn’t annoy me that much. After seeing the great new characters that have been added to the Star Wars universe from The Force Awakens and Rogue One Jar Jar Binks is now barely watchable.

6.Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

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This might be a surprise that I put Return of the Jedi at #6 but it’s here for only one reason…the Ewoks. When I was younger I loved the Ewoks. They were these cool giant teddy bear aliens that lived on a beautiful forest moon. The last time I watched this movie the Endor scenes were so boring I struggled getting to the good scenes at the end. Now I love the scenes where Luke faces Emperor Palpatine and when he fights Darth Vader but the Endor sequence is too large a section of the movie.

5. Star Wars Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith

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This movie is enjoyable from the beginning to the end. Anakin is still annoying but he isn’t as bad as when he’s in The Attack of the Clones. Padme is a damsel in distress the entire movie but she’s not in the film too much so that’s good. The scenes with Obi-Wan are of course very enjoyable. Emperor Palpatine’s evil plan to wipe out the Jedi is still terrible to witness. And the duels between Obi-Wan and Anakin and Yoda and Palpatine is very entertaining. I love when Palpatine is throwing all of those pods at Yoda as they fight where the Senate has its hearings. That’s one of my favorite parts of the entire film. The best part of the movie to me is the last seven or so minutes. I love it when Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are watching the Death Star being built, it’s cool seeing a glimpse at Alderaan which is a beautiful planet, and Obi-Wan giving Luke to Owen Lars and his wife before walking off at the end always gives me chills. This wasn’t the perfect way to end the prequel trilogy but it was much better than the other two prequels.

4. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

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A New Hope is a great film. I mean it’s literally the first Star Wars ever. There wouldn’t be all of these great Star Wars movies if it wasn’t for this one. As classic as this movie is it’s still quite boring. Now Rogue One helped make it interesting again but at the end of the day this movie still has the worst lightsaber duel and space battle out of all the films. And the remaining Star Wars movies are just better.

3. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

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This is where things start getting very difficult. I really, really love The Force Awakens. It contains so many hints and clues to the next movie that I’m still discovering things, particularly from Rey’s vision. The new characters are great and I can’t wait to learn more about them in the next Star Wars film which finally has a name (hooray!) The action scenes are wonderful, the lightsaber duel between Kylo Ren and Rey is one of the best parts of the movie, and the end when Rey finds Luke is to me, the best ending of all the Star Wars films. Yet with all the positives this movie has to offer there comes one negative that I cannot ignore. The movie basically was A New Hope all over again. Now the movie had a few things that were different but if it wasn’t for the backbone of A New Hope helping this story along who knows what The Force Awakens would’ve been like. They did, however, make this movie better than the fourth Star Wars without a doubt but I wished it could’ve been a little more original. That’s why, as much as I love this movie, it’s third on the list.

2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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This was very, very tough. I love The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader is at his coolest in this film as he chokes people through screens and demands respect from everyone around him. Luke is being taught in the ways of a Jedi by Yoda himself who lives on the mysterious planet of Dagobah. Han and Leia are trying to avoid being captured by the Empire. We know how that turned out. All in all the story is very good. I love a movie that gets better and better as it progresses. By the time Luke gets his hand cut off by Darth Vader the film has already taken you on a rollercoaster ride that just doesn’t stop. And then after a brief conversation with an angry Luke Darth Vader says, “No, I am your father.” Drop the mike. That is one of the best lines in any movie ever. So after all this praise why is this movie at second place on my list? It’s because as great as this film is, and it is great, it’s just not at that the level these new Star Wars films are. If The Force Awakens wasn’t A New Hope revised it would be third on my list. So yes, The Empire Strikes Back is a wonderful movie but it’s not my favorite.

1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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This was very difficult to decide. I love Rogue One, it was a great film, but was it really my favorite Star Wars movie? The more I thought about it I realized it was my favorite. This movie introduced some of the best new characters in the Star Wars universe, the action was superb, and the story was surprisingly great. Even though I knew how the movie was going to end I was still surprised at every turn. The last ten minutes were mind boggling. I mean when do you watch a film where everyone on the poster dies. That’s like watching an Avengers movie and all of the Avengers die. I also love it because this is one of those movies where you can keep seeing different things if you look in the background. That’s always fun. On top of that this film made A New Hope less boring which is a miracle. And last but not least, when a Star Wars movie has an awesome scene with Darth Vader like the one Rogue One had I can’t help but make this #1 on the list.

So this is my list of the Star Wars movies. Hopefully Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi will end up being my new favorite Star Wars film. Until then I can’t wait until Rogue One comes out on Blu-Ray.

My Ranking of the Marvel Movies from Worst to Best

For the last nine years Marvel has been cranking out tons of wonderful movies. Fourteen to be exact. Of course some of the films are better than others. So on that note let me start the ranking.

14. Incredible Hulk (2008)

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I love the Hulk. He’s one of the strongest and most entertaining superheroes in Marvel. His movie however was not so great. There were a lot of corny moments and it wasn’t a well written movie. On top of that the man they chose to be Bruce Banner before Mark Ruffalo didn’t even look like he would turn into the Hulk. The villain was the best part of the movie because at least he was threatening. The fight between The Hulk and the villain at the end is, to a certain degree, entertaining but overall the movie is a C-.

13. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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I have not actually watched the second Thor movie but I know for a fact it’s better than The Incredible Hulk. The reason why I place it at #13 is because I haven’t watched this movie because I have no desire to. Thor is not high on the list of awesome Marvel characters adding to the reason I gladly skipped this installment.

12. Thor (2011)

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The first part of this movie was very good. I loved seeing Thor’s homeland, Asgard, and the other cool worlds. The story was interesting and had me engaged. And then he fell down to Earth. After that the movie went on a downhill spiral. Natalie Portman’s character, Jane Foster, was annoying. The story was boring. When he eventually found his hammer and couldn’t pick it up I was so done. It was a decent part when that robot thing sent by Loki (who was the most interesting person in the movie) came to the town where Thor was until Thor “died”. Natalie Portman did the worst cry I have ever seen. It didn’t even seem like she was that sad. And then, to top off the corniness, when that hammer came rushing to Thor and he miraculously came back to life the movie dropped even further. Overall the only reason why this movie is #12 and not #13 is because I didn’t watch the sequel. I give it a C.

11. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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I love Captain America. He’s easily in my top five of coolest Marvel superheroes. His first film however fell a little short. I just recently watched this movie and I was excited. I had seen The Winter Soldier and Civil War multiple times but I didn’t know his backstory except for fleeting glimpses in the other movies. The first half of the movie was good. I loved his transformation. I loved seeing how he became known as Captain America. Peggy was a great character in the movie. Unfortunately after he saved all those people the movie seemed to get real rushed. There was too much slow motion during the action scenes and the story was going at a hundred miles an hour. Within no time it was over. The best part of the film was when he ran out of that building at the end and was in the middle of Times Square. That was pretty awesome. I wished they had utilized Bucky a lot more because the brief look into their friendship was one of the highlights of the film to me. I give this movie a B-.

10. Iron Man (2008)

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This was another movie I’ve watched recently for the same reason I watched the first Captain America. I knew Iron Man but I didn’t know his backstory. The movie was fairly decent. I loved the very first Iron Man contraption he made. That was cool. The villain was great. He was actually kind of scary. I liked the part when he nearly caught Pepper. That was a nail biting moment. I liked seeing the beginning of Tony’s relationship with Pepper because now when I watch Civil War I truly understand why he’s sad that they broke up. And I’m so glad Don Cheadle is now Col. James Rhodes. He’s a much better War Machine. I give this film a B.

9. Iron Man 3 (2013)

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I liked Iron Man 3. It was pretty good. It was funny because Tony Stark is funny. I loved the surprise of finding out that The Mandarin was really the blond haired man. That was a good twist. Especially when he shot Tony’s old girlfriend. That was shocking as well as him turning Pepper into one of those fire people. The one major flaw the movie had was having the little boy in the movie. He was okay but it did downgrade the story a little bit. There’s nothing really bad to say about this movie however. It was enjoyable and I can watch it more than once. I’d say this movie just managed to just get out of B territory to reach a B+.

8. Iron Man 2 (2010)

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As you can see this is my favorite Iron Man film. I really liked this movie. The story was good, the villain was okay but not very memorable, but most importantly this was the movie that introduced Black Widow, one of my favorite superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I give it an A-.

7. Ant-Man (2015)

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This is where things start getting complicated because I really like these last seven movies. I put Ant-Man at #7 because the competition it’s going against is pretty stiff. I did really like Ant Man though. The story of how he becomes Ant-Man is decent. I mean it’s nothing new or original but it is well written. I love the part where he fights Falcon. That is definitely one of the highlights of the movie to me. And Scott Lang is hilarious! I love his take on being a superhero because he’s just a regular guy who just so happened to be chosen to be Ant-Man. He’s not very heroic like Captain America but he is in his own way. Evangeline Lily does a great job as Hope in the movie. I can’t wait to see her in action as The Wasp in the next Ant-Man film. The best part of this movie is the way they lead up to his involvement in Civil War. It’s perfectly done and had me so excited for Civil War. The credit scenes were definitely some of the best out of all the Marvel movies as well. This is however a very predictable origin story that doesn’t have any sort of plot twists so I give this movie an A-.

6. The Avengers (2012)

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The Avengers was a ground breaker in terms of superhero movies. It brought together six heroes to protect the world in an epic showdown against Loki and a seemingly unstoppable alien army. This was a great movie but the reason why I have it so low is because it took about an hour and a half for anything to really happen. The rest of the movie is filled with getting the team together and getting the heroes to respect each other (mainly Captain America and Iron Man) in between bouts of awesome action scenes. There’s not really a story, there aren’t any shocking moments (well except for when Agent Coulson died but he really didn’t die so whatever,) and Captain America was horrible. First of all the writers hadn’t figured out how to fit him in with the other Avengers just yet so he came off as too stern and kind of annoying. But worst of all is that super blue tight suit that they gave him. It is putrid. Thankfully they fixed that problem in the later films. Now I’m not saying this movie is bad, it’s very good, but there are a few problems with it. I give it an A- as well.

5. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

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The first Avengers, story wise and villain wise, is better. The situation seemed to be more dire. Maybe that’s because, I don’t know, they were facing an alien army led by Loki instead of a talking robot Tony Stark accidentally created. There was also a lot of joking in the second Avengers. In fact I counted to see how many jokes were in Age of Ultron and there were 84. And I’m sure I missed some. That’s a lot of jokes in a movie that’s not supposed to be a comedy. Even after all that I happen to like this Avengers better than the first one for two reasons. They introduced The Vision and Scarlet Witch to the Marvel Cinematic Universe/MCU. I remember watching this movie for the first time and thinking who’s this red guy. Then when he picked up Thor’s hammer I was stunned. That was too awesome. And Scarlet Witch is simply cool. I can’t to wait to see her again in Avengers: Infinity War. So for that reason I put this movie at #5. I also give this movie an A-.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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This movie was a success. When I saw the first teaser I was already very intrigued. It looked like it was going to be a good movie but trailers can sometimes be misleading. After watching it I loved it. It was very funny and light compared to the other Marvel movies, I loved the new characters and everything was done perfectly. There is nothing I can say is wrong with this movie. The only reason why it’s #4 is because the story is very simple and there aren’t any huge surprises. I am very excited to see the next Guardians of the Galaxy this year to see what they’ll be up to next. I give this movie an A+.

3. Doctor Strange (2016)

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Oh my goodness I absolutely loved this latest addition to the MCU. From the beginning to the end I was riveted. I didn’t know how they could transform Benedict Cumberbatch, a Shakespearean actor, into a Marvel superhero but they did it and he did a marvelous job. His character, Doctor Strange, was surprisingly one of the funniest characters to me out of all the movies. His cape is such an awesome sidekick that I would have to place him in the legendary list alongside characters like Chewbacca. Why this movie was really special is because not only was he great but the characters around him were just as memorable. The Ancient One was perfect and possessed a kind, all-knowing personality that matched her name, Mordo was great and now that he’s kind of turned into a villain it makes his story that much more interesting, and Christine Palmer was a nice addition to the movie because she was the one person who was normal. I loved that they kept her role limited because it made sense. The villain, Kaecilius, was also fantastic. In a long list of forgettable villans he stood out. First of all he is only the second villain in the MCU to actually have a valid reason for what he was doing next to Zemo and secondly he managed to kill The Ancient One which was sad.

To top it all off instead of using brute force to win at the end like all of the other heroes Strange used his wit to save the day. It was a brilliant move that helped this movie stand out. The only reason why this isn’t my favorite Marvel movie so far is because it did have one flaw. When it came to the hospital scenes while he was dressed in the garb of the sorcerers why wasn’t there one person who looked at him with a cocked eyebrow? Everyone in the hospital was acting as if they always see people who look like him walking around. That minor but major flaw prevents me from putting it on top of the leaderboard. I’ll give this movie an A- because as great as it is it’s still an origin story that’s been done a thousand times. I still am very excited to own it on Blu-Ray and I can’t wait to see Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok.

2. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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Yes this is the best movie in the MCU to date. This was The Avengers on steroids. I mean when do you get to see twelve superheroes fighting against each other? Um…never. And the Russo brothers did such a great job directing it that it never felt like there was too much stuff going on at once. The story was fantastic, the plot twists were exceptional, the new characters were amazing, and for the first time in a Marvel movie the villain, Zemo, won…to a certain degree. They didn’t kill each other like he wanted them to but he did manage to fracture the Avengers deeply. There are, unfortunately, two problems with this movie. First of all the music for this movie is horrible. Now I don’t say that in terms of it sounding bad. It’s just the fact that there really isn’t any. When there’s an action scene there’s classic action music. When there’s a sad scene there’s a piano. It’s just so boring and basic that I still can’t quite get over it. I love music in movies so to me that’s a big loss. And then secondly the relationship between Captain America and Agent 13. I get it, this is a romance that’s been slightly blooming since The Winter Soldier but it felt very rushed to me in Civil War. It’s like the writers wanted him to have a romance so badly they forced it into the movie without really thinking about it. Did Agent 13 have to be in the movie? No. Was the movie better with her in it? No. So yes, I love Civil War. It’s a fantastic blockbuster that had me surprised at every turn but it had a few flaws. I still give the movie an A though.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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This is my favorite Marvel movie because it’s basically perfect. I love the simplicity of this film. Captain America is strong but he doesn’t have any super awesome abilities like summoning lightning or being able to read someone’s mind. Black Widow is just an assassin. There’s nothing overly special about her. Falcon can fly but that’s with the use of his exoskeleton. And even then it’s not like he can shoot lasers or missiles like Iron Man. His abilities are very basic. The Winter Soldier’s abilities match Captain America’s which ends up in some pretty even matches between them. The main villain of the film, Secretary Pierce, is the best villain out of all the Marvel movies. I remember being so surprised when I found out he was the bad guy. They give this film a certain grit that I love compared to other movies. There is nothing flashy about either of them. There are a few shocking moments, the music is the best of any of the Marvel films, and I love this movie from the beginning to the end. I give it an A+.

So this is my ranking of the Marvel movies from worst to best. I can’t wait to see the next few Marvel films to see where they’ll end up on the list.

 

 

 

Rogue One vs. The Force Awakens: Which One Wins?

It’s been a month since Rogue One has graced the big screen and wowed audiences around the world. In that time I have watched this new Star Wars film three times. I believe because it has been out so long this is the perfect chance to really see how it stacks up against The Force Awakens. Of course there will be spoilers so if you’re someone who still hasn’t seen Rogue One yet please do not read any further.

The Main Characters:

Rey

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In the last two Star Wars movies there have been two female leads. In The Force Awakens there was Rey. In the movie we first find her as a scavenger living off of scraps. She’s been abandoned on Jakku but she never gives up hope that her family will come back for her. She quickly displays her toughness when she takes down Unkar Plott’s thugs within seconds. Then she grows in awesomeness when she flies the Millenium Falcon better than Han Solo himself which is saying something. She’s a mechanic. And most of important of all, she has the force! I remember watching The Force Awakens for the first time and being mind blown when I found out that she was basically the next Luke of the Star Wars franchise. I also love that she never depended on getting rescued but got herself out of sticky situations. And she’ll only become cooler considering that in the next movie we’ll finally find out who her parents are.

Jyn

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In Rogue One there was Jyn. From the commercials and trailers, I thought she was going to be another awesome heroine. And she had the potential to be just as cool as Rey. She came off as tough when she took out those rebels in the very beginning on Wobani. She could take care of herself very well during the dispute on Jedha. After that, however, she never got to really show off her skills again. Cassian was always saving her, her story arc wasn’t that special, and yes, she became the leader of the small rebel group to retrieve the Death Star plans but not really. Cassian was the brains behind the whole operation.

I mean why couldn’t she have helped fight those Death Troopers and Krennic when they were climbing the data tower? If she had Cassian probably wouldn’t have gotten shot. And why couldn’t she and Krennic have gone head to head at the end? I would’ve loved seeing her, after a fierce fight, push Krennic off of the top of the tower and watch him fall as if to say, “That’s for my parents.” That, of course, didn’t happen and she instead got saved by Cassian again! Yes, she transmitted the plans but besides that, the only reason why she was important is that she was Galen Erso’s daughter. Rey is clearly the better heroine of the two movies.

Finn

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Now alongside Rey is Finn. Finn is a great character. He is the first stormtrooper in a Star Wars film to have turned good. That makes him such a different character than anyone in the Star Wars movies. He’s immediately lovable and is hilarious. I loved his growth in the movie. He went from being a man fleeing from the terrible evil of the First Order to co-leading a mission alongside Poe to destroy Starkiller Base. And he fearlessly fought Kylo Ren at the end and did a pretty good job against him. I can’t wait to see what he’ll be up to in the next Star Wars.

Cassian

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Then in Rogue One, there was Cassian. He’s my favorite new addition to the Star Wars universe. To me, his story arc in this new Star Wars film was way more heroic than Jyn’s was supposed to be. I mean when you first meet him he was a cold blooded rebel intelligence officer who was willing to do anything without question for the rebellion. Halfway through the movie, he has the chance to kill Jyn’s father, Galen Erso, but his conscience finally prevails. It’s a crucial moment that eventually influences him to get that ragtag band of rebels together to aid Jyn on her mission to steal the Death Star plans.

Besides Chirrut his backstory is very interesting to me. I hope that sometime in the future he’ll appear in another movie so we’ll get to know a little more about the rebel captain. Yes I love Finn, he’s a great character, but Cassian is just better. He’s more interesting and I really, really wished he hadn’t died so we can see more movies with him.

This category has both movies tied when it comes to the main characters. Rogue One: 1 pt. The Force Awakens: 1 pt.

 The Co-Stars:

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe) Behind the Scenes on set during production. Ph: Footage Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL 2016.

This category is pretty straightforward. In The Force Awakens there was Han, Chewbacca, and Poe barely. Han and Chewie were already well known from the original trilogy so they weren’t anything new in Star Wars. Poe wasn’t supposed to live when they first started making the movie so of course his story wasn’t thoroughly developed. In Rogue One there was K-2SO, Chirrut, Bodhi, and Baze. The co-stars in Rogue One were so much more dynamic and thoughtfully written. None of their stories were rushed and they all brought a different skill to the team.

Rogue One clearly wins this category. Rogue One: 2 pts. The Force Awakens: 1 pt.

The Droids:

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Droids are a large part of Star Wars. Ever since The Phantom Menace which was the first Star Wars movie I saw I have loved C-3PO and R2-D2. Even though they’re robots they are just as important as Luke or Darth Vader. The last two Star Wars have introduced a couple of amazing new droids.

In The Force Awakens there was BB-8. I remember when I first saw BB-8 I was disappointed because I thought that he was just another R2 except he had a soccer ball body. BB-8 ended up being such a cute, wonderful droid that he is definitely one of the highlights of the film.

Now Rogue One had K-2SO. A droid like BB-8 or C-3PO would’ve been out of place. His cold personality and bluntness made him the perfect droid to be part of the group. He was also the only character in the movie that made me laugh which was needed to cut through the intense scenes.

For me BB-8 is a better droid because at the end of the day BB-8 is a tangible droid. K-2SO is not. The Force Awakens wins this category. Rogue One: 2 pts. The Force Awakens: 2 pts.

The Villains:

Star Wars is known for their iconic villians, presumably Darth Vader. The last two Star Wars films have presented a few new villains to the Star Wars Universe. This category has another clear winner.

Kylo Ren

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Kylo Ren, besides Darth Vader, is my favorite villain in Star Wars. First of all his outfit is so cool. I love his short ragged, one shoulder cape, his silver lined mask, and his very awesome lightsaber. He also had one of the most surprising moments of The Force Awakens when he took his helmet off and instead of looking like some sort of evil, twisted being like Palpatine he actually looked human. Secondly his story is so interesting because unlike other villains in Star Wars he’s still developing. He killed Han Solo (which is still heartbreaking to this day) and, according to Supreme Leader Snoke, in the next movie he will be completing his training. That means he’ll only get scarier and more evil. I am very excited for this next Star Wars film.

General Hux

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Hux is cool because even as powerful as Kylo Ren is he’s the general of the First Order. It’s terrible because he was the one to come up with the idea to destroy the New Republic. One of my favorite planets in Star Wars is Coruscant so the part where Starkiller Base blows it up is very sad. I’m afraid to see what terrible new ideas he’ll concoct in the next movie.

Captain Phasma

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Captain Phasma is so awesome! First of all she’s the first and only female villain to be in a Star Wars movie. And she is so cool. I love her cape that only goes over one shoulder and her chromium armor is just beautiful. Unfortunately she didn’t have much of a role in The Force Awakens but thankfully she did live so I can’t wait to see her again.

Director Orson Krennic

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) Ph: Jonathan Olley �Lucasfilm LFL 2016.

In Rogue One there was Director Krennic. He was okay. He’s not very diabolical. He is ruthless but I wouldn’t call him truly evil. He’s just a tool of the Empire and Tarkin, who to me was the real villain of the movie, showed him that by taking command of the nearly completed Death Star. He’s not very memorable in the list of villains in Star Wars. The only thing that makes him cool is his squad of Death Troopers which were undoubtedly scarier than him and his beautiful white cape. If he didn’t have those two things he just might be the worst villain in Star Wars.

The Force Awakens definitely wins this category. Rogue One: 3 pts. The Force Awakens: 3 pts

The Story:

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This category has another clear winner. The Force Awakens has a good story. It introduced us to great new characters and situations but this movie was basically a prologue. On top of that it relied heavily on plot points of A New Hope. Rogue One was original, did a superb job of tying the movie to A New Hope, and it was a complete story.

Rogue One clearly gets the point. Rogue One: 4 pts. The Force Awakens: 3 pts.

The Music:

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Music is a central piece of Star Wars. Without that beautiful score John Williams created for A New Hope back in 1977 Star Wars might not have become as legendary as it is now. Michael Giacchino did a great job picking up the essence of John Williams’ score while giving Rogue One a different feeling than other Star Wars movies. I still love The Force Awaken’s music more because as good a job Giacchino did John Williams is still the master.

The Force Awakens ties again. Rogue One: 4 pts. The Force Awakens: 4 pts.

The Cinematography:

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This is the final category so after this there will be a winner. I loved The Force Awaken’s cinematography but it was rather basic and straightforward. The best shot in the entire movie to me was when Rey, Finn, and BB-8 are running across the sand on Jakku with those awesome explosions happening in the background and the tie fighter chasing after them. That was a special moment that stuck in my head since the first official trailer. Unfortunately, that was the only mind blowing shot in the whole movie. Rogue One had multiple mind blowing shots that wowed me. Here are just three amazing shots that had me stunned in the movies.

There was the Death Star eclipsing the sun while blowing the city on Jedha into oblivion. That was a terrifying moment. The giant AT-ACT appearing out of the smoke was amazing because it showed how terrifying the Empire is in the rebel’s eyes. And then finally, when the Death Star appears at the end of the movie like a horrible planet. That was another beautiful shot that stuck with me since the trailer.

Rogue One clearly wins this category. Gareth Edwards did such a great job directing Rogue One I really hope he makes another Star Wars movie. Rogue One: 5 pts. The Force Awakens: 4 pts.

So the winner is…Rogue One!

The Force Awakens put up a good fight but Rogue One just managed to edge it out. I hope the next Star Wars is better than both of these films combined.

The Music, Miscues and Visuals of Rogue One

Spoiler Alert

I will talk about a few things in the movie so if you haven’t seen it yet and you don’t want to know any details do not continue to read this.

The Music of Rogue One

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One of the best components of any film is the score. If the score is horrible the movie is horrible. Music makes you feel a certain way about certain things in movies. When I found out John Williams wasn’t doing the score for this movie I was definitely worried. Would the movie sound like Star Wars? And if it did would it even sound good? I happened to be very impressed with the fantastic score Michael Giacchino created.

First of all having someone other than John Williams make the score allowed the movie to feel fresh and new. There were many times in the movie when I found myself saying, “This score is awesome.” Particularly my favorite part was the music for Jedha. I loved how he made the music seem warlike while resembling the sound of Saw Gerrera’s suit. The Imperial theme was fantastic too. It felt like something definitely out of Star Wars but nothing like John Williams would ever make. The theme for Chirrut had an ancient tone that perfectly matched him since he’s supposed to be one of the last Guardians of the Whills. The music for Jyn and Cassian was beautiful and perfectly escalated in a saddening way when their doom became eminent. When the light rushes towards them as they’re embracing on the beach the score gets louder and louder until it stops as the light engulfs them. That was a powerful moment that Michael Giacchino precisely composed.

There were many other smaller pieces of wonderful music placed here and there that enhanced parts of scenes. One of these scenes was when Jyn and Cassian were climbing the data tower to get the plans. The music at that part is so, so good. It has a threatening tone because Director Krennic is walking to the data tower at the same time. This is one of those examples where the music made the scene just that much better.

Overall the score for Rogue One is amazing and definitely worthy of humming.

The Miscues of Rogue One

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As perfect as this movie was there were a few mistakes. First of all if this film is supposed to literally be right before A New Hope then where did all of this new technology come from? Where did all of the Death Troopers and Tie Strikers go? What about the Imperial Tank Soldiers? Are we really supposed to be believe that they all just somehow vanished? And the Imperial droids just like K-2SO? What happened to them? The First Order, which was thirty or so years after Return of the Jedi, didn’t even have that much new technology. Now don’t get me wrong. I love the new stormtroopers and ships. They’re very cool. I just wish they hadn’t introduced so many different Imperial things that we’ll never see in the original trilogy.

The use of the force was a little overkill. A lot of normal people were saying things about the force in this movie. Now nearly everyone who said something about the force had a legitimate reason for saying it. However when the rebel alliance were getting ready to go to Scarif and a random man on the intercom said, “May the force be with you” I was a little annoyed. The force in Star Wars is a pretty big deal. If you start just having anyone say “May the force be with you” it’ll take away the magic from that line and turn it into a kind of joke. Having that man on the intercom say that famous line was just about as bad as if K-2SO said “May the force be with you.”

Another miscue is Bodhi’s death. The way they ended his life was a little lackluster compared to everyone else. Every other main character, including Galen Erso who’s in the movie for a max of maybe four minutes, had a death worth remembering. Bodhi however finishes sending a crucial message to the rebel alliance, a stormtrooper spots him in the ship, throws a grenade, he sees the bomb in front of him, and then boom! It’s a strong contrast compared to Chirrut’s memorable demise before him.

And last but not least we come to Jyn. We are introduced to her locked away in what seems like an Imperial establishment. We then see her a few scenes later being taken to an Imperial labor camp. My question is how did she get there? What was she doing in her life at that time to get captured by the Empire? I was left to use my imagination of why she might be there because the movie never gave me an answer. If Rogue One had been that fragmented it would’ve been an entirely different movie.

The Visuals of Rogue One

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Since the trailers I have known this was going to be a visually stunning movie. And after watching it I was happy to see that it was. The very first thing you see is a ship flying across a ring of a planet. This reminded me of something you would see out of Interstellar. The rest of this movie was full of beautiful cinematography and visually appealing shots. I loved Gareth Edward’s vast vision of this Star Wars film. From the beautiful shots of the vast red plains of Jedha littered with giant rocks and half buried Jedi statues to Jyn atop the tall tower on Scarif with X-Wings and Tie Strikers fighting around the building. Those shots were so cool it stuck in my head, among many other things

One of my favorite parts is when Cassian and Jyn are going through the city on Jedha and the camera sweeps upward to show the massive underbelly of the Star Destroyer parked above the city. That is an amazing shot that really displayed the menace of the Empire at that time in the galaxy.

This is also the first Star Wars movie that really made the Death Star scary. Gareth Edwards did an incredible job showing how terrifying it would be if you saw the planet destroying space station in the sky. One of the many shots that accentuated the menace from the iconic weapon is when the Death Star eclipses the sun and blasts the sacred city on Jedha to oblivion. That was a frighteningly beautiful shot that truly enhanced the movie.

Overall Gareth Edward’s vision was stupendous and I hope he gets to make another Star Wars film.

 

The Characters of Rogue One

Spoiler Alert

This is my list of the main characters in the new Star Wars movie from my favorite to least favorite. Now, all of the new people are great but some outshine others for various reasons. I will be talking about the characters in the movie so if you don’t want any details please do not read any further. Otherwise I hope you enjoy.

Captain Cassian Andor

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Cassian is hands down my favorite character in Rogue One. The reason why is because he was the most surprising. From the trailers and commercials I thought he was just the regular rebellion officer who was helping Jyn. I had no idea that he was a cold-blooded assassin who did all of the dirty work for the Rebel Alliance. In fact, I didn’t even know the Rebel Alliance was so ruthless behind closed doors. And picking Diego Luna to play him was brilliant. His accent immediately differentiated him from anyone else we’ve seen in Star Wars and his grim, stern expression summed him up within a few seconds without you having to know him for long.

Watching his transition from being the semi-villain to becoming a man with a conscience was to me one of the highlights of the story. And if it weren’t for him Jyn might’ve died at the hands of Director Krennic instead of from the blast of the Death Star. I’ll get to that later. So yes, he is my favorite new addition to Star Wars. Unfortunately he’s in only one movie.

K-2SO

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If Cassian hadn’t been such a surprise K-2SO would’ve definitely been my favorite character. K-2SO is C-3PO if he were cold, very straightforward, and could fight. He has the same humorous personality and literally made me laugh out loud. I mean when he slaps Cassian for speaking when Jyn and Cassian are supposed to be his prisoners I couldn’t help but laugh at the hilariousness of the situation. Or when you first meet him and as Jyn is trying to escape he picks her up, slams her to the ground and says, “You are being rescued.” That is simply hilarious. I could just go on and on about all the funny things he did in the movie but that would take too long. Is he my favorite droid in Star Wars? BB-8 still reigns supreme in my opinion for his extreme cuteness. (Can you call a droid cute?) Yet he is definitely a brilliantly conceptualized droid and will be remembered as one of the best new Star Wars characters. Too bad he also is in only one movie….

Chirrut Imwe

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe) Behind the ScChirrut Imweenes on set during production. Ph: Footage Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL 2016.

I remember when I first saw Chirrut in the early trailers. He looked so cool with his stark blue eyes. Then I found out he was blind and my liking for him grew even more. His ability to use the force in the movie is limited but brilliantly used as his source of sight. He can read people better than those who can actually see and his sweet personality makes him instantly lovable. And that fight scene with the stormtroopers on Jedha is epic. Once again he is another character that was so cool. I wish he wasn’t in just one movie. It really is a shame.

Director Orson Krennic

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) Ph: Jonathan Olley �Lucasfilm LFL 2016

He is definitely a fantastic villain in Star Wars. From when I first saw him in the early trailers with that grand white cape I was super excited to see him in the movie. He was definitely a different villain than someone like Tarkin or General Hux. He emitted a sort of posh vibe that was accentuated by that beautiful white cape. And unlike Tarkin and Hux he had a blaster of his own which he used to nearly kill Cassian in the tower on Scarif. He was also very ruthless with his band of Death Troopers always by his side to kill at his command. When he ordered the troopers to kill the assistant scientists instead of Galen who admitted he betrayed him I was shocked. It was a ruthless lesson to teach Galen and one that truly cemented his villainous ways. And his shuttle is pretty awesome.

Jyn Erso

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story(Felicity Jones) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Felicity Jones) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL

I thought Jyn was a great new heroine in the Star Wars galaxy. Felicity Jones did a fantastic job molding into that character and making us forget who she was. My favorite aspect of Jyn was her toughness. She didn’t need anyone’s help and could take care of herself. Rey is still my favorite female character because she not only was an independent cool character but she ended up becoming a Jedi. Wow! I’m still amazed about that. So yes Jyn is an awesome addition to Star Wars but she still had to get saved at the end instead of taking Director Krennic on by herself unlike Rey who single handedly took down Kylo Ren twice. I definitely give her a thumbs up for killing all those stormtroopers on Jedha like a pro, though. That was pretty cool.

Bodhi Rook

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) Ph: Jonathan Olley �Lucasfilm LFL 2016.

Bodhi was great. He showed up earlier in the movie than I expected. And I liked how he was quick to have an attitude. If played by the wrong actor Bodhi might’ve been slightly annoying but Riz Ahmed played him perfectly. His expression when he first saw Saw Gerrera was one of the highlights of the film to me. And poor, poor Bodhi. I feel sorry for him. That interrogation he endured was horrific. I’m not surprised he nearly lost his mind from that experience. And his signifigance to A New Hope even happening is great because right before he died he was the one who sent the message to the rebels to receive the plans for the Death Star. That makes Bodhi a hero in the movie that I didn’t expect.

Baze Malbus

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story(Jiang Wen) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Jiang Wen) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL

Baze is yet another great character in Rogue One. His use of his very awesome, huge gun is incredible. One of my favorite parts in the Eadu sequence is when all of those stormtroopers come running out of the building and he just takes them down within seconds from his perch on the rocks. You can tell he is a hardened veteran who has been fighting the Empire for a long while.

Saw Gerrera

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) Ph: Giles Keyte ©Lucasfilm 2016 LTD.

 

Saw was another surprise in the movie. He emitted a slightly frightening presence with his hoarse voice, Darth Vaderish suit, and his brutal tactics. You can tell that the years and years of war had driven him slightly mad. The only time you can see who he used to be was when Jyn came to see him. He died much earlier in the movie than I thought but his significance to the movie with him relaying Galen Erso’s message to Jyn was crucial to the development of the story.

So this is my list. I really wish Cassian and Chirrut hadn’t died because they were so cool. I would love to see them in other movies. I am glad that these characters are now part of the Star Wars universe whether they are in one movie or not. And let’s hope in future Star Wars movies there will be even cooler characters that don’t last for only one movie.

 

Why Rogue One Is a Fantastic Movie

What To Expect From Rogue One

First and foremost, this is my favorite Star Wars movie to date. I watched it twice in two days and both times I found nothing wrong with this movie. It’s rare to come across a movie that is very, very close to perfect but this was one of those films. Let me elaborate a little bit further without any spoilers for anyone who’s reading this who hasn’t watched the movie yet.

As soon as the iconic words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” disappear you immediately know this is not your average Star Wars film. Once again, this is spoiler free so I won’t tell you why but the very first second of the movie is entirely different. If you’ve seen the trailers you’ve seen when Jyn Erso’s a little girl and Director Orson Krennic comes for her father, Galen Erso alongside his troupe of menacing Death Troopers. This is the prologue of the movie and immediately sets the intense tone of the film. When you come to the end of the prologue the words Rogue One appear with the classic Star Wars music which is modified slightly and then the story begins.

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Within the first fifteen minutes you are introduced to Jyn Erso as an adult, Captain Cassian Andor who for me was the best surprise of the movie, and the wonderful new droid K-2SO. Their introductions perfectly illustrate who their characters are without having to inform you too deeply into their back stories.

At the rebel base Cassian and Jyn are given a mission to go to Jedha, a planet where one of the earliest Jedi temples resides. I won’t tell you what the mission is of course but it’s definitely compelling to watch.

Within the next fourty five minutes you are taken on a wild ride that just doesn’t stop. You are introduced to the other characters Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus, and Saw Gerrera in perfect fashion. The way they end up a team is one of the most flawless forming of a group I have ever seen. Before the movie I had never known these characters but the writers perfectly conveyed who they were within minutes.

You’d think after the movie’s first half they would give you a slight break and allow you to reset but they don’t. The movie only grows more intense until by the end when the credits start rolling you feel like you’ve experienced a Star Wars movie unlike any other.

This film definitely is a Star Wars Story, for the tempo is much more urgent than the Star Wars episodes because everything concludes in one movie. Michael Giacchino composes the movie so beautifully that I never found myself wishing John Williams had composed it. His take on the Galaxy we all know and love was astounding and definitely one of the highlights of the film. It also, unlike the prequels, perfectly integrated into A New Hope like a puzzle piece. The cameos and nods to the 1977 film were precise without feeling overdone or forced. We were told that this would be a gritty war film and yes, it had that feeling. This is hands down the most violent of all the Star Wars films I’ve ever seen. They really pushed the boundaries of what we’ve all come to know as Star Wars.

And then there was Darth Vader. He only has a few scenes but his role in Rogue One was beyond perfect. The way they brought him back to the movie was something I have always wanted to witness. His menace is felt straight through the movie screen and they truly brought back the reason why Darth Vader was so loved and feared in the original trilogy.

The Force Awakens was an amazing movie but at the end of the day it took a lot of direction from A New Hope. This was an entirely new film that we have never seen before and even though we know what happens at the end it was such a perfectly written movie I was still being surprised with every turn. And the most incredible feat of all, A New Hope, which was definitely one of the most boring Star Wars movies is now actually good. When I see the words in the opening crawl of the 1977 film it makes so much more sense because I now know who the “rebel spies” are. A movie that can enhance another movie is a pretty great film.

If you haven’t seen this wonderful movie yet please do. You will not be disappointed. And please watch it in IMAX. The increased price for the tickets are well worth it, for this is definitely one of the loudest movies I have ever watched. And the grand scale of the movie and planets is definitely worth seeing in IMAX.

I hope you enjoyed this review and if you want to see my complete review full of spoilers I’ll be doing that next.