The Last Jedi?

The-Last-Jedi-spoiler-review

I’m quite fond of Star Wars. I’ve watched the original trilogy perhaps literally more times than I can count, and I can count well into two digits. I even liked the prequel trilogy when I first saw them all – though subsequent viewings made me realise how foolish I was. The Force Awakens was a return to the kind of Star Wars that I love, but does The Last Jedi keep it up?

Yes.

But wait, there’s more! Without spoilers. Unless you consider ‘You’ll love the twist in The Sixth Sense!’ a spoiler because now you know there’s a twist. I will do a spoilery review thing later.

TLJ worried me for multiple reasons. Mark Hamill is, just possibly, not the BEST actor in the galaxy, and I was concerned about him having such a big role. Rian Johnson is known for doing things with his films that might not do well in Star Wars, and was reported to be doing things that have never been done in Star Wars, and stuff like that. Early reactions stated that this would be a polarizing film; that the saga had been going one way all this time, and now it would take a sharp turn.

I needn’t have worried about any of these things. I don’t honestly know what those people were talking about – I don’t think anything was particularly polarizing or direction-shifting. Neither was I particularly surprised by anything that happens, whether I’d already had a theory about it nor not. But not in a bad way – I didn’t leave disappointed that there was no ‘I am your father’ moments. It didn’t lack fresh takes on things and decisions that will surprise some, though.

Story-wise, I was concerned about what choices would be made with some of the characters. What worried me most was that their endeavors to make a fresh, unpredictable story would take characters down paths I didn’t want to see them go down. I can’t say what I was concerned about, because then saying that I needn’t have worried would perhaps be a spoiler.

 

Mark-Hamill-as-Luke-and-Daisy-Ridley-as-Rey-in-Star-Wars-The-Last-Jedi

All-in-all, there were a handful of small things I didn’t like much, and one big thing I didn’t like. But overall, it was an improvement over Force Awakens, it was very funny – perhaps too often – and I want to see it again. Now.

Before I get to a spoiler-filled post, here are some other Star Wars things I’ve babbled about:

The Force is with Leia – But Which Side?
The Force is Awake
My 11 Force Awakens Questions
Dawn of the Jedi
The Galaxy Needs KOTOR III

 

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WB vs Justice League

justice league

Dawn of Justice was terrible. Snyder made Superman into a dull, whining emo and Batman into a dim-witted, drunken, murdering psychopath who happens to dress like a bat. It goes without saying, then, that even after a mostly very good solo outing for Wonder Woman, I had no hope at all for Justice League.

Imagine my surprise, then, when after weeks of trying and failing to get in to see it, I found myself entirely alone in the cinema, enjoying most of what I was seeing. That’s right, I went to see Thor. I jest. I didn’t see Thor. Perhaps ‘enjoying’ is too strong a term. Easily tolerating.

Given how long it has been out now, I won’t try to avoid spoilers here but, honestly, there’s pretty much nothing TO spoil.

First off, the postivity of my opinion will obviously be swayed by how awful BvS was and the fact that it’s difficult not to compare Justice League with that. Were this the first team up film they had made, I would on the one hand be less forgiving, but on the other be a little more hopeful for the future of the DCMU (which is what I’m calling it). It had plenty of problems, but they seemed smaller than those in BvS, and there were actually enjoyable parts. On a scale of 1 (BvS) to 10 (WW – not that I’d quite give WW a 10/10), I would call Justice League a 6. In a proper rating out of 10, standing on its own merit, I’m not too sure what I could give it. Definitely less than that. 4?

Let’s start with my three biggest problems:

The CGI – WB needs to get its &%$! together when it comes to many things, but perhaps the most obvious to even the most casual of moviegoers is the CGI. It is sensationally bad. JL contains the worst yet. From a terrible, 100% CGI villain to completely unnecessary 100% CGI Alfred, to green-screening that looks like an unfinished fan film, WB would be hard pressed to make the CGI any worse. Cyborg’s face doesn’t need to be CGI – just have him wear a half mask and do it up with little bits of CGI. Although, they couldn’t get Superman’s upper lip to look realistic, so perhaps all is lost in this department.

The length – Perhaps ‘learning’ from people complaining about the length of BvS, Justice League is only two hours long. That would be okay for a solo film, but this is a team-up of six major characters. Although it did, to be fair, seem to give the characters equal-ish screen time, it could have done with at least an extra 30 minutes. As it is, it feels as though Whedon or Snyder or someone forgot that a film should have a middle, and instead went straight from the beginning into a run up to the end. One moment, we’re seeing some of the characters doing their own thing, and the next it’s all go. It’s like Usain Bolt turning up for the Olympics opening ceremony only to hear the starting gun and everyone’s off running and he’s not even in his goddamn shorts!

The Foundation – The film itself can’t help that it has to work off BvS, but…it does. Snyder stupidly rushed into the death of Superman storyline when the world doesn’t trust him, Batman just tried to murder him, and Diana has barely even met him. Even we, the audience, don’t have a good grasp of him as a character (this particular iteration, that is). Yet we’re supposed to believe that the entire world is in mourning because of his death, and so is each of the soon-to-be League. There are shots of places around the world flying gigantic flags with the Superman logo on them. Simply moronic.

Since I’m not sure how else to continue this whatever-this-is, let’s talk about the heroes:

Batman

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Batman was a huge disappointment in BvS. He was stupid and oblivious (he lets himself get caught in Luthor’s servers twice, and clumsy, plodding Clark Kent manages to follow him there a third time without him even noticing. World’s greatest dewhat?). There was an allusion to him being an alcoholic womaniser, rather than this being simply a disguise and misdirection. He’s a murdering psychopath. He stands smirking as his traps hurt Superman instead of actually acting. He sees Doomsday about to laser-face him and cowers behind his hands instead of using his multitude of tools and skills to save himself (I maintain that the scene should have happened as is, except without him swearing and hiding, and when Diana turns around to see if he’s okay, he’s standing on the roof above, having escaped in time anyway – she’s still the hero who jumped in front of face laser to save him, and he’s still Batman).

batman arkham

But…I’m getting off track. In Justice League, we’re not too sure if he’s still a murderer because no one ever mentions it and he only fights parademons, which don’t count. He’s still not the Batman I want to see, but he’s a little closer to it. Despite being an older Batman, he shows no signs of the take-charge, always ten steps ahead, ready for anything, surprised by nothing Batman I want to see. For reference, Kevin Conroy is the definitive Batman for me – a live action version of the Batman of the Arkham games would be the Marvel-buster (basically a more brutal, adult version of the animated series Batman). But he doesn’t seem quite as stupid this time, at least. The worst part for me was when Superman first shows up to fight Steppenwolf and Batman literally gasps, with a huge grin on his face. I mean…no.

Batman’s first scene is by far the best and (along with a certain two-sworded villain’s appearance in the post-credits) actually gave me a little hope for his solo film (NOTE: Before editing this, I read that he may now not be playing Batman again after all, which is disappointing – the problem is the Batman he’s been given, not how Affleck plays him). There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it just felt…nice. It felt Batman-ish. A common burglar is climbing out of a window with his loot, and in the window’s reflection, you see Batman watching. Then comes a fairly typical cat and mouse sequence where the thief tries to shoot him but Batman’s never quite there. Again, nothing special, but the most Batman-ish we’ve seen this Batman (and credit to the city around them – it felt like Gotham).

Wonder Woman

WW

There’s not too much to say about Wonder Woman. Her role is fairly minimal outside of hitting and slicing things. Otherwise, she’s really only there to protest bringing Superman back and to explain, unconvincingly, why she went off people in between WW and BvS. But what she did do, she did well.

It looked from the trailers like the team was a bit of a mess right up until Diana takes charge and gets them working as a team. This is not the case. Neither do they work badly together to start with, nor do they work particularly well together in the final fight. Perhaps WB’s collective brain will start working and we’ll see a Patty Jenkins Justice League next. I don’t know how she’d handle Batman, but WW, Superman, and Flash would all do well under her.

I was disappointed to see that not once did she fly. I still don’t know for sure if this version of Wonder Woman CAN fly. She certainly seemed to in her solo film, but it wasn’t clear enough. I’ve said before that, to me, she is almost Superman’s equal. He has more raw strength and power, but she is a demigod (or maybe full god in this version?) and is magic-based, and a trained warrior. These things together – again, to me – make her pretty much his equal in terms of who can beat who (up until Superman totally unleashes, that is; which he didn’t). I was worried, then, when I saw in a leaked video of Superman’s fight with them, that they headbutt each other. She barely knocks his head back, but then he headbutts her back and she gets planted in the concrete. The full scene is slightly better, as he actually headbutts her first, and does as little damage as her return headbutt. This at least shows that the most powerful man in the universe has to make some real effort to hurt her (but look out further down for how that’s completely ruined later on).

Superman

superman

We all knew he was going to come back in this film, but it was as though all the characters knew he was going to come back in this film too. There was no light bulb moment when they realise they can bring him back; there was no clever or interesting way they went about it; there was no emotional realisation that it might actually be possible; there was no real drama to him suddenly being alive again. Aquaman and Diana put forward their ideas that it might be a bad idea – that they don’t know that he’d come back wholly himself – but otherwise, there’s not really any discussion about it.

Then there’s the fact that he’s only in three crucial scenes. His fight with the others, his talk with Lois, and then the end fight when he turns up to save the day, single-handed. Again, this is where a longer film would have come in handy. Perhaps the worst thing about this is that when he does turn up to fight Steppenwolf (cue Batman’s schoolgirl gasp), he bats him about like a cat playing with a dead mouse. This is badly handled. Not only because the other superpowered heroes do him almost no damage (remember how Superman had to really try in order to hurt WW?), but also because of the introductory flashback scene of the first time he comes to Earth, and is fought by Amazons, Atlantians, ‘the tribes of man’, and…wait for it…gods. Yes, the actual gods fight him, and he’s still only just sent packing. But Superman turns up and that’s that. He doesn’t even get a hair out of place while ‘fighting’ Steppenwolf. This, to me, is a little too much. Steppenwolf should at least have got in a couple of good hits. It should have been Superman’s power that allowed them TOGETHER to overwhelm Steppenwolf. Sure, he should be capable of defeating him single-handed, but it shouldn’t be that easy, or else what is the point of the Justice League? Not to mention, if Steppenwolf had hurt Superman a bit, we’d have been wondering just how much more damage Darkseid will be able to do (and I really just can’t get over how weak it makes Diana seem).

Bad faceAnd he was just creepy and weird, like a Henry Cavill doppleganger was brought in to play him. He was so inhuman and unemotional all the way through – even when fighting Steppenwolf – as though he resented having to be there – character and actor.

 

Also, where did he get his new suit?

Flash

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Apparently, Flash was most people’s favourite character. I don’t really understand why. His scenes with his father were a bit weak – there was no chemistry there at all. A lot of his humour was way over the top, forced, unfunny, and just childish. He runs weirdly. There’s a scene near the end where he’s running along a road, and I literally thought he was falling or something because of the way his arms were flailing about. But no, that’s just how he runs.

He is perhaps the most pointless character, as at least the others have reason to be there. Flash is just there because he’s part of the Justice League, so he HAS to be. Sure, he saves some people, but there’s no part where he earns his place in the team or the film.

Aquaman

aquaman

I expected to dislike Aquaman. I don’t dislike Jason Mamoa, but his characters come across as too arrogant and smug for my liking. But, aside from a bit too much of the “Oh yeah”s and the “My man”s and the “Yeah-ya”s – which are nails on chalkboard to most non-Americans – he was actually okay. Not more than okay, but okay. I’ve read reviews that refer to him as the ‘bad boy’, which is just ridiculous. There’s nothing bad boy-ish about him other than his initial refusal to help. That’s it. He doesn’t hesitate for a second once he’s onboard. Doesn’t second guess anyone, doesn’t take issue with Diana taking charge and giving orders (one order), nothing. He has a teeny tiny spat with Cyborg which is over in an instant and feels no more serious than the rest of his banter.

What I don’t understand, though, is why he helps in the first place. Steppenwolf attacks Queen Mera, and Aquaman turns up to get beaten too. Then Mera – queen, remember – tells him that his then-queen mother gave him up to protect him (which he seems to immediately accept and change his previously-negative opinion of said mother), and that it would have been the mother’s duty (as queen) to go after Steppenwolf, but now it is Aquaman’s. W…why? Why is the queen’s duty not the queen’s duty now that the queen is a different queen? At least the Amazon queen actually makes some effort herself (and is actually acted properly too). It’s made to sound as though this is the first time Aquaman has even turned up in Atlantis, too, which makes it all even weirder.

Cyborg

Cyborg

I’ve heard it said that this is the weakest character, but I don’t agree. I don’t think he is given any less screen time than other characters, and best of all, his self-pity doesn’t last long and isn’t overwhelmingly irritating like certain other Batman/Superman films I could mention. He’s well acted, badly-CGI’d, and plays a crucial role in the story – but not so crucial that you feel he should have had a bigger part to play.

But seriously, why CGI the entire cyborg half of his face? It’s unnecessary and awful.

JL

When it came to humour, as I’ve already said, Flash failed to amuse most of the time, but even that wasn’t totally horrendous as Age of Ultron taught me to expect from Whedon. The worst of it was the bit we already saw, with him getting excited about the Bat signal. Otherwise it was his general awkward, immature nature that was supposed to amuse. There were, I think, two parts that actually made me laugh – one of which is an older woman on the news, which has nothing to do with anything.

Danny Elfman – I’m assuming at Whedon’s behest, or at least permission – brought back the Batman and Superman themes (the proper ones), which worked quite well for Batman, despite him not being a Batman worthy of that theme. For Superman, I can only assume the part where it was used properly was cut. The only time we hear it is a bizzaro version when he’s not himself and is fighting the team. There is a recognisable sound when he punches Steppenwolf, which might be at least a bit of the theme, but it was barely audible underneath the noise of Steppenwolf hitting the ground. Perhaps just as well, since he was even less deserving of it than Batman.

HARWOOD

‘Flat’ is probably the best word to describe it. Nothing ever felt remotely dangerous or dramatic, the only time the characters had a hint of emotional interaction with each other was when Bruce annoys Diana and she shoves him. Even that was over in an instant and they were apologising to each other minutes later. There’s no coming together, no clumsiness of people not used to working as a team and not used to trusting others, no…anything much. I’m not even totally sure why it would have been so terrible if Steppenwolf got all three motherboxes. I’m sure it was explained… It’s full of missed opportunities, rushes into things too fast, leaves no time for meaningful character development. It’s more like a pitch for a full film: ‘These are just some of the things you’ll see if you let us make a full Justice League movie’.

So, perhaps the main reason I actually ended up enjoying my two hours was because it was not as terrible as Dawn of Justice. I can’t explain why else I left the cinema not feeling as though I wasted two hours. I want the extended cut (BvS was less terrible in the extended cut), but whose do I want? Snyder’s? Not really. Whedon’s? Not really. I just want a longer, fuller version. But for now, I’m just surprised that I actually want to see it again.

Batman

See also:

The Big Blue Boy Scout
Birth of the Superhero

Jedises? Ben & Rey Skywalker?

The Last Jedi first artwork

The small bits of Star Wars: The Last Jedi artwork that we’ve seen have got people talking again – as though anyone needed an excuse to talk about Star Wars. Who is/are the last Jedi? Who are Rey’s parents? What is the connection between her and Kylo Ren? Why the hell did R2 magically wake up for no reason at all?

The most popular theory seems to be that Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter. I’m in two minds about whether I like the idea of the galaxy revolving around the Skywalker family, but if she is to be a Skywalker, I’d rather it was maternal. In the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe, Han and Leia have twins (and a third child, but who cares about him?): Jaina and Jacen Solo.

Jaina and Jacen SoloJacen turns to the dark side, while Jaina remains in the light, so Kylo and Rey taking an approximation of these roles would be a decent nod to this. Plus, Jacen kills Luke’s wife, which would add to the justification of Luke running off to sulk in the films.

The downside to this is that there’s little likelihood that Han wouldn’t know that Rey is his daughter. Sure, they could have been split up like Luke and Leia, but there would have been no reason to do that, or to keep her secret from Han. Plus she was around six-ish when she was dumped on Jakku – though this is probably about the right age to hide her to keep her safe from Kylo and Snoke.

Failing this, I’d quite like her to be Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter. His relationship with Satine in The Clone Wars is canon, so it’s a vague possibility. The downside to this is it still leaves room for the absurd Rey/Kylo romance people seem so desperate for.

As for The Last Jedi, we seem to have confirmation that it is meant as a plural. It’s possible that the foreign language versions were simply translated as plural but not actually told that it was, so I’m not taking it as a fact. But it seems likely. Even if Luke is the last at the beginning of the film, if he trains Rey to be a Jedi, there would be two of them by the end. But, given that Snoke is supposedly an ancient being, is it plausible that he was at some point a Jedi? Could The Last Jedi refer to Luke and Snoke? (No, I do not in any way count Leia as a contender.)

And who’s to say Rey will become a Jedi anyway? Perhaps the old ideas of Jedi and Sith are over, at least for a time. It would be interesting to see her become a balance of light and dark, rather than the extreme of either. This is a concept used in the Dawn of the Jedi graphic novel, and it would be interesting to explore beyond just the realms of Jedi = light side and Sith = dark side.

What do you think about these questions? Who is Rey? Who is Snoke? And seriously, were they that lazy at writing that R2 has no actual reason for waking up?! Will Benicio Del Toro be Boba Fett’s son?

Wonder, Marvel, and Survival

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For me, when a female-led action movie is done well, there is something a little extra special about it. Perhaps it’s because they are comparatively rarer for the time being. Let’s put aside the obvious Star Wars Episode VIII and Rogue One, the brainlessly whitewashed Ghost in the Shell, and some others. There are three main, female-led potential blockbusters that I’m very much looking forward to.

These three not only have the potential to be brilliant movies, but also to show the morons- powers-that-be that there is just as much a market for female-led movies as there is for male-led ones. That market is, of course, people who like good movies! These idiots powers-that-be seem to be about the only ones that don’t realise that it doesn’t matter who leads a movie – what matters is that it’s entertaining, exciting, thrilling, funny, sad, GOOD.

But that’s not the point. The point is, these are those three movies.

Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot seemed like an odd choice to play Wonder Woman at first. While the likes of Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck were busy growing to twice their normal size at the gym so they could look the part, a spindly model only really known on screen for her part in a Fast & Furious movie was cast as the third of the Trinity. But out marched Batman v Superman, and it was terrible. But Gadot’s Wonder Woman was, for the brief appearances she made, one of the best things about it.

Granted, how good she was will have been exaggerated a little by how terrible the eponymous leads were. She didn’t whinge and whine and boo hoo her way through her cameo scenes; she was there for a reason and she got on with it. She was, as far as anyone can be in such a short time, Wonder Woman. (While the leads failed utterly to be Superman and Batman, but that’s beside the point).

Sadly, Zack Snyder still has his grubby hands on June 2017’s Wonder Woman solo outing, with IMDb listing him under ‘story by’. But he isn’t directing (that’s Patty Jenkins) and he didn’t write the screenplay, so there’s hope yet. The trailers keep looking better and better, and there’s a slightly Marvel flavour to them, which isn’t a bad thing after an okay Man of Steel followed by two woeful outings from the DCMU.

I’ve always considered Wonder Woman to be Superman’s equal. While he has more raw power, her being a magically-created demigod and warrior balances the scales. When Superman goes bad, who do you call? Wonder Woman (also Batman, obviously). So far, it’s looking as though Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is going to be that equal, with the actress  easily embodying Power, Grace, and Wisdom.

Captain Marvel

I don’t actually know all that much about Captain Marvel, being neither a comic reader nor a Marvel fan outside of the screen, but I look forward to her introduction to the MCU more than most of the other Marvel movies coming up.

So far, all we know about the movie is that it is scheduled for release in March 2019, is being written by Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve, and will star Oscar winner Brie Larson (who I have only now realised was Abed’s girlfriend in Community!).

Captain Marvel is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe, and according to the Marvel Studios’ president, Kevin Feige, the MCU’s version of her will not only be more powerful than the rest of the heroes ‘by far’, but will also be more powerful than fans are used to seeing her. So, she’s taking the Hulk’s heavyweight belt and then some.

brie-larson-captain-marvel-1

In the comics, as the character progressed through the usual iterations, she gained the ability to tap the power of a white hole, allowing her to manipulate gravity, heat, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Though she lost this connection, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel’s base powers include flight at around Mach 6 (light speed with the white hole connection), the ability to survive in space, superhuman strength and durability, a limited precognition, and the ability to blast energy from her fingertips. She can also absorb energy to augment her power to the point of unleashing a nuclear warhead level energy blast, and can throw a 92-tonne punch.

In short, even if these are the highest levels her power reaches in the film, she’s going to be insanely powerful. So with a strong choice of actress, good source material, and Marvel’s mostly solid track record, I don’t need a trailer to know that I want to see this, now!

As a side note, I’m interested in seeing how she’s used going forward. Up till now, Marvel has been mostly trying to keep a balance between the heroes’ power, with them coming out of every scrape pretty much equal (even if it doesn’t always make much sense): Captain America v Iron Man; Thor v Captain America; Thor v Iron Man; Iron Man v Hulk; Thor v Hulk, etc. So it will be interesting to see how Captain Marvel is incorporated in later films, which she will be given that she’s set to become one of the most important characters in the MCU. In the comics, she has had affiliations with pretty much everyone from SHIELD and the Avengers, to the X-Men, to the Guardians of the Galaxy, so we could be seeing a lot of her.

Tomb Raider

Again, we know very little about 2018’s Tomb Raider, except that it will star Alicia Vikander and will be based to some degree on 2013’s Tomb Raider game reboot and sequel. This is what IMDb currently says about it, if it means anything:

Lara Croft sets out on her first expedition to finish her father’s archaeological research and uncover ancient secrets in order to clear his disgraced name. Tragedy hits when her adventure turns into a fight for survival.

This sounds made up to me, but it would make sense. While the 2013 Tomb Raider game was about Lara Croft taking part in an expedition that goes wrong, its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider (yes, stupid name), was a more personal story about Lara trying to complete her father’s work and clear his disgraced name.

Written by Rhianna Pratchett, the reboots were far more story driven, and introduced a more human Lara Croft. Initially, she doesn’t believe in the more supernatural elements that gamers were used to her battling, she was barely out of college, and certainly didn’t somersault all over the place firing two guns at once. She was a young woman way out of her depth, concerned only with trying to rescue her friends, and has to adapt radically to be a surviver.

alicia-vikander-tomb-raider-645x370

While Angelina Jolie was a good choice for the big screen’s somewhat entertaining first attempt at the character, it’s easy to imagine Alicia Vikander (another Oscar winner) bringing the young, innocent, and vulnerable Lara Croft through the tragedies, tortures, and trials that will forge the Tomb Raider.


So these are, aside from Rey and Luke, the characters and movies I’m most looking forward to seeing in the next few years. If they’re done right (and I think at least Captain Marvel and Tomb Raider will be), they could be brilliant.

What movies, female led or not, are you looking forward to most before 2020?

Zack Snyder v Batman v Superman

Or: Zack Snyder v The DC Universe

batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice

When I first heard about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was more excited about it than I was about The Force Awakens (though that changed, of course, as TFA came closer). I wasn’t sure what to make of Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, but I thought he might do well. I was not a fan of Jesse Eisenberg being cast as Lex Luthor, but beyond that, I was expecting a good film.

Then the trailers started coming in. The first few teasers were good and only increased my excitement for the film. But it soon started to get worrying. Batman seemed to be doing things Batman shouldn’t be doing. He seemed to be showing too much emotion for my liking. Luthor was acting like an idiot. Doomsday right there in a trailer?! But I still held out hope. There have been trailers before that ill portrayed the film, and I could live with a slightly different take on Batman – every actor is going to play him differently, obviously, and I’ll never get the live action version that’s in my head anyway.

But after my hopes coming and going and coming and going again, I watched the film this morning not knowing what to think. And…I still don’t know what to think. If I were to give the briefest review, I would say it had good bits and bad bits, and overall I quite enjoyed it. But I’ll go a little deeper than that, with no spoilers.

Let’s randomly start with Lex Luthor. I was completely justified in my concerns about Jesse Eisenberg’s casting. He was probably the worst thing about the film. In the three video reviews I watched yesterday of the film, he was twice referred to as being very like Jim Carey. And the more the film goes on, the more I can see why. Though he isn’t as over the top as the reviews can make him seem, there are a couple of places where he brought to mind Carey’s Riddler in Arkham Asylum at the end of Batman Forever. He is certainly a new take on the character, being borderline schizophrenic rather than insane through his megalomania. He does at least have a few decent lines regarding whether Superman is truly good.

BvS-wonder-woman.JPG

Gal Gadot was a good choice for Wonder Woman, I thought, and she gives off a sense of power and virtue. Her sudden appearance (sudden to most of the characters) towards the end of the film made me smile, yet I can see how people not entirely familiar with her character would be very confused. Why, they would muse, is Wonder Woman doing more damage to Doomsday than Superman?

Affleck did a good job as Batman. I’ve heard a lot of people say he’s the best thing about the film, but I don’t know if I would go that far. To me, he is similar to Cavill as Superman: good, but not all that remarkable. I wouldn’t like to see him replaced and I’d be happy to watch him in the role again, but his name wouldn’t roll off my tongue if I was asked who I think the best Batman is (Kevin Conroy, since you ask). I’ll come back to more of Batman in a minute.

It’s difficult to talk about the film without properly…talking about it. A lot of the issues revolve around things that are, or could be considered, spoilers. But suffice to say that one annoyance is that the trailers pretty much show us the entire film. There is very little in there that will surprise you after watching those. Which is absolutely ridiculous on the part of the marketing team. Doomsday should never have been shown in the trailers, particularly. Even Wonder Woman’s best bits are in the trailers.

Just like my ramblings, the film is all over the place and lacking in any kind of sense of consistency or substance. I don’t understand a lot of the choices, such as sitting Metropolis right next to Gotham (you literally see the Bat signal from Metropolis), or having Batman closer to the end of his career just as the Justice League begins come together. Unfortunately, a lot of it is stuff I can’t mention in a spoiler-free review (like the plot point they used for the resolution – ridiculous and too soon). The dream sequences are another particularly confusing aspect of the film, since they don’t actually seem to have any relevance to anything.

It’s as though there are multiple films playing out in one, and Snyder doesn’t know which one to point the camera at. Although for the most part the way it jumps about isn’t too confusing, there is a lot of stuff that didn’t need to be in there at all. Like the cameos from the other Justice League members. The cameos themselves are bad, the way they are done is bad, and they are utterly pointless except to show Batman and Wonder Woman that there are more metahumans out there, which isn’t necessary information for this film. Why not end the film with one of them saying something like, ‘You know, there were more videos on that drive…’ and going from there?

In the end, though, the thing that really brought the film down was Batman. Yes, you’ve heard that he’s the best part, and yes he’s very good. But he kills people. Like a moron, Snyder tried to excuse it as not murder, but just plain old manslaughter. Funnily enough, that doesn’t make it okay. As I said, I can deal with a different take on the character, but when you completely alter a fundamental aspect of that character…well, you’re a twat.

Batman Kills.jpg

Not only does Batman kill, but he kills unnecessarily. Each and every kill could have been avoided and handled differently. At one point he even has devices that disable his enemies’ guns, so clearly some kind of brain activity is possible when it comes to thinking non-lethally. But instead, Snyder decides to take the lazy approach and just murder everyone else. And it is laziness because, at the end of the day, Batman in the comics can actually be quite profound, and that includes his reasons for not killing and his justifications for why it isn’t necessary, right, or his choice to make. Writing in good reasons why Batman still sticks to his all-important rule is so much harder than ‘oh, well, you know, he’s just tired of bad people doing bad things and stuff…’, so they simply didn’t bother.

That said, I wonder how the gentleman that Superman smashed through a brick wall at 100mph is doing.

One of the biggest aspects of Batman’s character is his iron will. And that extends to his not killing. But that’s not the only reason he doesn’t kill. It’s because he knows how close to the edge he is. He knows the darkness inside him. And he knows that if he were to go down that path, there would be no coming back; he would become everything that he has been fighting against. But no, Zack Snyder knows better, right?

Interesting question: If Batman is so happy to murder people, why is the Joker alive?

I decided early that I would never take a life. Right around the time I decided that I wanted to live. It wasn’t an arbitrary decision and it was more than moral. It’s about identity. As long as you can choose that, choose who you are in the world…you can choose to call yourself sane.‘ – Batman, New Earth

Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I’ve always feared that you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven’t fallen in and I thank heaven for that.‘ – Alfred, Mask of the Phantasm

If you kill a killer, the number of killers in the world remains the same.’ – Batman

It Always Starts With One

My biggest issue with the film is actually that in doing the things he has done, Snyder has impacted the entire DC cinematic universe. Everything to come has to work off the template that Snyder has laid down, even if Snyder himself is gone. And he absolutely should be removed from the Justice League, in my opinion. I don’t think he, or David S Goyer, should be allowed anywhere near the DCMU again. Or any superhero film for that matter.

To me, Snyder with BvS is a lot like Frank Miller with Dark Knight Returns. I know a lot of people love that graphic novel and think it’s the ultimate Batman, but I detest it (sorry). Neither of them seem to understand or even like either Batman or Superman.

But, as I said before, at the end of the day I did enjoy the film more than I disliked it. And I think I have run out of things to say without spoilers.

Batman

If you want more Superman and Batman, here are a couple of articles I’ve written before on the subject(s):

The Big Blue Boy Scout

Birth of the Superhero

My 11 Force Awakens Questions

X-Wings

These might not be the most burning questions everyone has, but they are ones that I hope will be answered in the next film – but some I fear won’t be answered at all. I had a few others, but they’re answered in books and whatnot.

SPOILERS, obviously.

Who are the Knights of Ren?

We know, thanks to Supreme Leader Snoke, that Kylo Ren is the ‘master of the Knights of Ren’. But who are they? Is Snoke their leader as well as the First Order’s? Did he poach Kylo from them? Did Kylo create them himself?

My previous theory regarding them was that they were the remnants of Luke’s new Jedi Order – those who sided with Kylo when he turned on Luke. It doesn’t seem likely that he would have left the Jedi to become one of them before becoming Snoke’s apprentice (assuming he is Snoke’s apprentice – I don’t recall either of them using the terms ‘master’ or ‘apprentice’ or anything similar), as Leia says that Snoke seduced Ben Solo to the dark side.

We heard before the film that the Knights of Ren were obsessed with the Sith and spent their time hunting for Sith artefacts, but we learned absolutely nothing about them from the film, bar that Kylo is the master of them. Perhaps the biggest question regarding them is: are any of the other Knights of Ren Force wielders?

I’m going to add to this the question of Kylo’s lightsaber: why is it the way it is. Why is it so unstable? Why does it have the guardy bits?

Why does Kylo Ren’s power falter?

When Kylo tries to pull the lightsaber to his hand, he fails. I mentioned this before and concluded that it could be one of two things. Either Rey’s attempts to pull it were disrupting his, or that the crystals in it are so imbued with the light side that they resisted his dark side power. Most likely the former.

However, Adam Driver has said that his lightsaber is a metaphor for the character. That it is unstable and could stop working at any moment. The unstable part we saw, but the ‘stop working’ part we did not – for the saber or Kylo himself.

Perhaps the question is redundant, then, and Rey is the reason he fails to pull the saber. But having killed his father and thus completing his journey to the dark side, and being wounded and surely fuelled by pain and anger, he should be more powerful than ever.

Kylo Ren

Why did R2D2 wake up?

R2 was in low power mode since Luke left, but conveniently wakes up at the end of the film and happens to have the rest of the map that the Resistance needs. Is there a reason for this or is it just a pitiful plot point thrown in for convenience? Unfortunately, J J Abrams’ answer seems to say the latter.

Apparently R2, in his low power mode, heard that they needed the map piece and that eventually leads to him waking up. It’s a case of, after a sad death, the audience needed someone to ‘come back’. I can’t help but feel this is just bad writing.

I was thinking that perhaps Luke somehow activated him from a distance, or that he detected Rey’s arrival and activated, or…something. It’s still possible there is a reason that would be considered a spoiler, and so J J is keeping it to himself, so let’s hope so.

Who left Rey and why?

Rey calls Jakku home. According to the wall she marks at the start, she has done for a long time. More specifically, according to her vision she was left there as a little girl of, I’d guess, between six and nine. But who left her? Why did they leave her? And why did they never go back for her?

The answer could be anything, of course. Her parents may be people we’ve never heard of and they left her for reasons we couldn’t possibly know yet. Or perhaps we do know her parents. The main theory seems to be that Luke Skywalker is her father, but I don’t know what I think about that.

Could she have been at the new Jedi academy when Ben turned into Kylo and destroyed it? In her vision, he does walk towards her – but is that just a fanciful vision-y flair? And if she was there and was somehow rescued or something, why would she not remember? Was her mind wiped? That would be a pretty cheap and poorly written trick to play on us, I think.

The Force Awakens Rey

How does Rey use the Force so easily?

I know she is strong in the Force, but how does she go from thinking the Jedi and the Force are a myth to using a Jedi mind trick on James Bondtrooper? Twice. And Force pulling the lightsaber to her hand.

Channelling the Force mid-fight is understandable enough, because Maz Kanata tells her to close her eyes and feel the Force, or whatever, and that’s what she does. It did take me two viewings to make that connection, though.

Again, perhaps she was already being trained by Luke and her memory was wiped but, again, that would be weak in my opinion. Besides, a padawan of that age surely wouldn’t have been taught mind tricks.

My theory on this is that when Kylo Ren dived into her mind, something of his Force power imprinted on her. But it wasn’t mentioned or explained in any satisfactory way. ‘I can’t explain it’ is the closest we get to any explanation.

Who calls Rey in her vision?

There are voices in the vision Rey has while in Maz’s basement. Yoda is the main one. But as she finds herself in the snowy woodlands, someone calls her name. Who? It sounds remarkably like Alec Guinness’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, but it’s hard to tell with only one word. Plus, we don’t yet know what Luke Skywalker sounds like these days, so it could be him.

Luke looks a little shocked and/or confused when Rey turns up at the end. Would he look at her like that if he’d been calling her through the Force? Perhaps his subconscious was doing it. If it was him, how does he know her name? Thanks to the Force?

EDIT: I could have deleted this part. Apparently it IS Obi-Wan – they took his voice and cut it to make him say ‘Rey’, and had Ewan McGregor record ‘these are your first steps’. Which is interesting, since Obi-Wan doesn’t say those precise words anywhere in the originals (or the prequels, I think), thus meaning he must be actually speaking to Rey.

Why does the lightsaber call to Rey?

‘That lightsaber belonged to Luke, and his father before him. Now it calls to you.’ That is, perhaps not word for word, what Maz Kanata tells Rey. But why does the lightsaber call to her? And what does that actually mean?

The lightsaber presumably doesn’t have a consciousness and is literally calling her. ‘Psst! Hey! You with the hair! …….touch me.’ So I presume it’s the Force guiding her to the saber. But why? Why does the Force care about her picking up a lightsaber. So is it the power imbued in the saber by the grace of it being constructed by a powerful Jedi and then wielded by Luke? But again, why her? Simply because she’s strong enough in the Force to hear it? …I may have answered my own question.

The Force Awakens Lightsaber

Why is there a map to Luke?

And why is the main part of it in the Imperial archives? Surely the point of him going into hiding is that he’s hidden. Why would there be a map at all, let alone one that’s broken into two pieces? Or is the map actually to the first Jedi temple, which Han says Luke went looking for. That would make a little more sense, though the island doesn’t exactly look much like a temple to me.

That still doesn’t explain why there is one piece taken out of the map. Luke could conceivably have somehow done it to cover his tracks, but why wouldn’t he just delete it?

What exactly is the awakening?

Yes, we all assume that it is the Force awakening in Rey, but is it? The Force almost certainly guides Rey when she flies the Millennium Falcon. It probably guides her when she slams the door on the…rathtar? Raktar? Tentacle thing. I don’t think she does anything else before Snoke asks Kylo if he’s felt the awakening.

But surely, the Force has been guiding her before that. Perhaps she has done nothing quite so intensive up until then. Or perhaps she isn’t the awakening at all.

Why is Luke looking for the first Jedi temple?

Okay, he’s run away. The Jedi seem to do that a lot. But why go looking for the first Jedi temple? A nice day out? Does he feel like he can be closer to the Force and the essence of the Jedi? Does he think that he will find Jedi teachings there?

And where is the temple? It seems like an incredibly quick hyperspace hop, compared to the other hyperspace journeys. Look how long they were in hyperspace between Han and Chewie’s freighter and Maz’s place. You’d think the first Jedi temple would be somewhere a bit further away and hard to get to. More interesting, in short.

Where has Snoke been hiding?

Granted it isn’t mentioned in the film, but we know that Supreme Leader Snoke is ancient. Even if we didn’t, he’s clearly older than 30. So where has he been all this time? Where was he when Darth Sidious was prancing about as Palpatine? Did he know that the Emperor was the Dark Lord of the Sith? If not, why didn’t he try to seize power?

I suppose it depends a lot on what Snoke is. If he is a Sith, he should be governed by the Rule of Two: one master, one apprentice. So, perhaps he was hiding from Sidious and Vader, knowing that they would want to kill him if they knew of his existence. But don’t we want someone who we feel is more powerful than the enemies who have come before? So why wouldn’t he have done Sidious in and taken power for himself?

Has he come from outside the galaxy perhaps? Is he, as many have wondered, actually Darth Plagueis, Sidious’s master? Andy Sirkis says no. There must surely be a reason that no one has heard from him until now.

Lastly, if he is ancient, does that mean that his species is long lived? That the dark side has kept him alive? Or that he has mastered ‘essence transfer’ – immortality through taking over another’s body? Is that what he is grooming Kylo Ren for?

Supreme Leader Snoke

What questions were you left with? Do you know/think you know the answer to any of mine?

The Force Is Awake

The Force Awakens

This will be a pretty short ‘review’ anyway,but before I mention any spoilers, I will say that The Force Awakens is very good. It does suffer from some pacing issues, though, so that it feels too rushed and doesn’t contain any of the more relaxed, slow scenes that the originals had. It also contains some things that are a little too easy and convenient – and no they can’t be excused with ‘Oh, it’s the Force manipulating events’.

These two things are really my only problems with the film, which is good. Well, that and the music wasn’t remotely memorable, which is a shame. And a few too many scenes and lines from the trailers found themselves cut from the film itself – a couple of which were very good lines. But otherwise, it was better than the prequel trilogy combined, though that’s not really saying much. The fact that it was entirely predictable and nothing happened that surprised me couldbe taken as a negative, but since I liked pretty much everything that I predicted, it isn’t a bad thing.

I can’t say anything more, really, without it being slightly spoilerish. So, here begineth the spoilers!

SPOILERS!!

So, the timeline is pretty much what we all expected. Ray on Jakku, Finn breaking Poe out, Finn finding Rey, them finding Han, Finn fighting Kylo, etc. But most of the film in general is what I expected. It’s quicker to say what was different.

I thought Finn would die – though I stopped thinking that closer to release – but instead Han died. I thought Rey would be Han and Leia’s daughter but instead Kylo is their son. And that’s pretty much it. Not, as I said, that it’s a bad thing, because I wanted Rey to be the Force sensitive. I wanted the film to be mostly about their search for a missing Luke Skywalker. I wanted him to have disappeared after trying and failing to rebuild the Jedi order.

I’m not really sure what to say about it. It wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped, but it was much better than I’d feared. The issues, as I mentioned were really only the rushed pacing and the convenience of some things.

Maz just happens to have Luke’slightsaber? Oh, that’s a story for another time is it? So you’ve definitely got an actual reason have you? It’s definitely not just a convenient plot point because you couldn’t be bothered coming up with a decent way for the saber to come into their possession. Please don’t try to excuse it with ‘the Force did it’. Had Rey found herself there without Han’s help, then I could buy that, but it was Han who thought that was the place to go. That’s a little far fetched even for the Force, I think.

And Rey just happens to be able to do a Jedi Mind Trick completely out of the blue when she shouldn’t even know that such a thing exists. She doesn’t even know she can use the Force. My guess is that Kylo Ren inadvertently awoke the Force within her when he delved into her mind. Perhaps her getting into his mind too somehow imprinted some knowledge of the Force on her, but I don’t know. It seems far too convenient.

R2D2 just happens to wake up in time to show them where to find Luke? Okay, that one is more interesting. It happens to coincide with Rey arriving at the Resistance base. Perhaps Luke knows about her and has him waiting. But there are things wrong with that theory. First, Rey is about 6 when she’s left on Jakku. Unless Luke is the one who dumped her there, how would he know about her and have R2 waiting for 20 years before waking up for her? Second, Rey isn’t there in front of R2, so how would he even detect her presence? Is he Force sensitive too?

Kylo Ren lightsaber

I really wanted Rey to be the Force sensitive one, though I’m not sure why, so I was glad when she started to hear the whispers and cries and I recognised it as the Force speaking to her. I liked Finn more than I’d expected, but I couldn’t imagine him become a Jedi.

I can’t help but feel that Chewbacca should have gone on a rampage after seeing his friend killed, rather than getting a bit upset and then kind of never being seen for any proper length of time again. I think Han should have fallen onto the bridge, not off it, and then Chewie should have fought his way through Stormtroopers to get to his body. However, it was a bit of a sad death. It should have been more sad than ‘a bit’, though, and I didn’t really feel it until the Leia/Rey hug (how did Rey even know that was Leia?), and that was thanks to the music. And why did Chewie And Leia – the two people who care most about Han – completely ignore each other? Shouldn’t it be them hugging?

I don’t know what else to say – I need to see it again. At the moment, in my mind, it’s mostly just a mess of action sequences cobbled together into a film.

It’s very good, and I want to see it multiple times again, and I very much want to see Episode VIII now.

Last thought: is Snoke a Sith? Or something else? And if he is, could he even be the apprentice? What if he has taken Kylo as his own apprentice in preparation of confronting his own master? …Probably not.