Defiant — Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Defiant — Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Making a Star Wars film must be one of the most daunting things in Hollywood.

While fans cry, “More, more, more,” with wallets wide open, expectations are incredibly high and hard to meet.

Disney paid George Lucas billions for the chance, and they’ve gone ham mining the Star Wars legacy for more cartoons, comic books, merchandise, anthology movies, and core trilogy films.

And in the thick of things, the company tries to corral a wary fanbase worried about the House of Mouse damaging a beloved legacy filled with lore and characters that are to American culture what air is to breathing.

It’s my opinion that no one, at this point, can create a movie in the series without inviting the wrath of fans. Not even the legendary Steven Spielberg himself could create a continuation film that would satisfy the masses and keep the vitriol from spreading to his Twitter feed.

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Life in Three Acts — Dunkirk Review

Life in Three Acts — Dunkirk Review

The battle and escape at Dunkirk was a defining point during the first stages of World War II — it ultimately rallied the British who were at one point considering a conditional surrender to Germany.

The safe return of 330,000 British and allied soldiers with the help of civilian forces spurred a counterpoint to Germany’s blitzkrieg that was pushing its way through Europe with relative ease.

While the film takes place during the harrowing hours before the retreat, Dunkirk isn’t a simple and linear retelling.

It’s a collection of parables that uses the event as a backdrop to explore the paradigm of human existence. Compressing time and space, Dunkirk is a microcosm of chaos, beauty, and the circle of human life.

The movie opens with a literal bang as German soldiers open fire on Allied troops who have, so far, maintained an uneasy and untenable position with their backs to the French oceanside in Dunkirk. A few hundred-thousand troops wait on the beach as, one by one, ships pick up the wounded first.

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The Wonders You Can Do — Wonder Woman Review

The Wonders You Can Do — Wonder Woman Review
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In the world of comics, Wonder Woman is no throw-away hero.

First appearing in comics in 1941, Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who helped invent the polygraph. Marston believed comics had incredible potential in terms of educating children, and he wanted to create a hero with a modus operandi that set him apart from his contemporaries — a hero who would conquer with love.

It was Marston’s wife Elizabeth who said the character should be female, and Marston based Wonder Woman’s physical appearance on his student and other significant other, Olive Byrne.

The rest is history. As part of DC’s famed Trinity, Wonder Woman is on par with Superman and Batman in terms of ability, leadership, and respect. Her comic has been continuously published for more than seven decades — minus a four-month absence — and she just celebrated her 75th anniversary.

So, it’s actually a wonder that it so long for Warner Bros. and DC to bring her to the silver screen. She first appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I thought she was by far the best thing about the movie. Now, in her first solo outing, Wonder Woman gets her chance to show the cinematic world that she deserves her place amongst the World’s Finest.

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A Second Opinion. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Guest Review

A Second Opinion. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Guest Review

www.hypergeeky.comEverything that is wrong with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story can be summed up in one thing.

Well, there are a lot of things wrong with Rogue One: paper-thin characters, a middling pace, a largely forgettable (and, within the mythos, unnecessary) plot.

But the tank – the TX-225w “Occupier” combat assault tank, as Wookiepedia tells me – is the perfect vehicle to address Rogue One’s fundamental problem: a superficial guise and muddled tone.
Because while the film purports to be a gritty war drama – tanks! firefights! no Jedi! – it never fully divorces itself from the character of the rest of the series.

And that has serious repercussions.

Star Wars – despite a misleading title – has never really been about warfare. In the series, wars merely act as backdrop and motivation for the melodramatic blood feuds of space wizards: a former slave is seduced by dark magic and rebels against his mentor (the Prequels); a farmboy learns magic to defeat his fallen father (the Original Trilogy); an orphan scavenger discovers magic and proceeds to beat up some goth kid (The Force Awakens).

The climax of these films usually feature a battle of some kind, yes, but it is the emotionally-charged contest between individuals that form their central focus: Luke vs. Vader (the battle of Yavin), Luke vs. Vader (the occupation of Bespin), Luke vs. Vader vs. Palpatine (the battle of Endor), etc.

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Before the New Hope — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Before the New Hope — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
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Before Disney felt it needed to add A Star Wars Story to the title — you know, for all the uninitiated viewers who needed a green light to go buy a ticket — it was just Rogue One, the first of what could be an avalanche of anthology movies set to release as Disney begins its plans to release at least one SW movie per year from here on out.

Apart from the three new episodes, these standalone movies — the next one is a young Han Solo movie for 2018 starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian — can be viewed either as boons or boondoggles. They are at once many things and nothing — a wasteful cashgrab to extreme purists, an insult to committed followers of the expanded universe, and/or a welcome addition to the family by pretty much everybody else with an open mind.

For the casual fan wondering what the fuss is, Rogue One isn’t a major episode, and Luke Skywalker is nowhere to be found. It does have Darth Vader, and several other cameos, but the focus is on a set of characters who have never been mentioned by name before, and — for all intents and purposes — may never be mentioned in any new movie ever. (Notice I put down “new.”)

So if you have no desire to watch this, but you’re still excited about the Force Awakens and the next two episodes, you won’t miss out on anything critical — though it will ease some of your doubts about the convenient way the plot sort of connects itself. And if you’re partial to the prequels — meesa thinking some of you are — it won’t really change how you feel about those movies.

It will, however, have a profound effect on fans of the original Star Wars movie, the one simply titled Star Wars at its release — it didn’t get the Episode IV or A New Hope subtitle until 1978 or 1981, depending on which source you trust.

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Despite All the Rage — Fury Review

Despite All the Rage — Fury Review
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Fury came out when I was ready to let go of war movies — at least for a while.

Thanks to a friend, however, I didn’t miss Fury, David Ayer’s new war flick starring Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, and Jon Bernthal.

The premise seemed entertaining enough — it seemed like a sort of Band of Brothers meets A-Team except with a tank instead of a black van. My buddy, he of foreign and artsier tastes, tempted me into seeing this one by describing it as a possible Saving Private Ryan except with the brutality and violence spread evenly throughout the movie.

Not that violence is a good thing, but Saving Private Ryan felt like two great movies stitched together or rather like a coin on its side that gives us one view, that of the terrors of war, before flipping over and showing us the other, the psychological damage and unbelievable bravery that scales that wall.

But in the end, Fury was no Ryan — and if I had looked up Ayer’s previous movies before walking into the theater, I would have known better. Why? Because Ayer is no moralist or uplifter, and the only happy ending I’d get is knowing World War II ended with the Allies claiming victory.


While Fury may have cinematic cues in part due to Steven Spielberg’s epic war movie, it’s a much more stark look at war that doesn’t attempt to glorify or try to make peace with it.

Don Collier (Brad Pitt), known by his field tag Wardaddy, leads a crew of veteran soldiers operating a tank during the last days of the war as Allied troops storm Germany. While Hitler’s forces recruit women and children as a desperate measure, Wardaddy and his men move from point to point, though we’re told from the onset that American tanks were inferior to their German counterparts.

After one of Wardaddy’s gunners is killed in battle, Normal Ellison (Logan Lerman) takes his place, but he’s about as green as can be. It’s only a matter of time before he witnesses the horrors of battle — “What men can do to each other.”

This movie will break you in so many ways, whether you’re a warhawk or pacifist. Fury looks like a war movie, sounds like a war movie, and fights like one too — but it’s really a parable of life aptly titled.

“Best job I ever had,” the soldiers say before heading into a suicidal mission — and it sort of sounds like the pep talk I give myself every day before work. Watch as Ellison’s change from dainty-fingered typist to World War II veteran comes with a giant hitch — each experience peels away his innocence, leaving scars like sin. We see how each of Wardaddy’s men, from the Bible quoting Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LeBeouf) to the grime-toothed Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis, have each lost a bit of themselves, jettisoning their sensibilities as they just follow orders. They’re left with different shades of anger boiling quietly but intensely under the surface — an emotion that fills the whole movie with unbearable tension.

“It isn’t about right or wrong,” Wardaddy tells Ellison after he forces him to gun down a surrendering German. War, like life, beats men down until they become monsters fighting for survival. And when beauty presents itself — it’s but for a fleeting moment until it’s smeared by human depravity which ends up begetting even more depravity.

The ending may follow a similar route as other war films as our men go up against insurmountable odds, but it’s the last line that hits you square in the chest. It’s then we realize our heroes are the most damaged of all.


Fury (2014)
IMDB
Directed by: David Ayer
Screenplay by: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Jim Parrack, Brad Henke, Kevin Vance, Xavier Samuel, Jason Isaacs, Anamaria Marinca, Alicia von Rittberg, and Scott Eastwood

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Under Attack — Red Dawn Review

Under Attack — Red Dawn Review
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Imagine a normal day in a small rural U.S. town, sitting at a desk in a high school classroom.

The teacher is giving a lesson in history, possibly talking about World War II. You take a glance outside. Suddenly, Soviet paratroopers fall out of the sky and land. They begin to attack everyone.

What do you do?

This is the catalyst that begins World War III in the 1984 classic, Red Dawn.

Enter a rag tag band of Colorado teens who call themselves The Wolverines. They are led by Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze) and his brother Mark (Charlie Sheen). The Wolverines lead a resistance against the invading Soviet Army and their allies, the Cuban military.

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