Archive for Millenium Falcon

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On the shipbuilding world of Corellia, orphaned children are made to steal in order to survive. Han and his lover Qi’ra make an escape from the clutches of a local criminal gang. They bribe an Imperial officer with a stolen sample of coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, in exchange for passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi’ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board. Han vows to return for her and joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet. When the recruiting officer asks for his family name, Han says he has no family, and is alone, so the recruiter gives him the surname “Solo” in his documents.

Three years later, Han has been expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination. While serving as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban, he encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers led by Tobias Beckett. He tries to blackmail them into taking him with them, but Beckett has him arrested for desertion and thrown into a pit to be fed to a beast – a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Able to understand Chewbacca’s language, Han persuades him to work together to escape their confinement. In need of extra hands, Beckett rescues them and enlists them in the gang’s plot to steal a shipment of coaxium on the planet Vandor-1. The plan goes awry when the Cloud Riders show up with their leader Enfys Nest, resulting in the deaths of two crew members, Rio Durant and Beckett’s wife, Val, and the destruction of the coaxium.

Beckett reveals he was ordered to steal the shipment for Dryden Vos, a high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate. Han and Chewbacca volunteer to help him steal another shipment to repay the debt. They travel to Vos’s yacht where Han finds Qi’ra, who has joined Crimson Dawn and become Vos’s top lieutenant. Han suggests a risky plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on the planet Kessel; Vos approves but insists that Qi’ra accompany the team. She leads them to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot who she hopes will lend them his ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando’s ship. Lando cheats to win but agrees to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits.

The team boards his ship, the Millennium Falcon, and heads for Kessel. After reaching the planet and infiltrating the mine, Lando’s droid co-pilot L3-37 instigates a slave revolt. They use the confusion to steal a consignment of coaxium, but L3 is severely damaged and Lando is injured during the escape. With the help of L3’s navigational computer, freshly hotwired into the ship’s systems, Han pilots the ship along a dangerous route through an uncharted maelstrom to elude an Imperial blockade. The Falcon, badly damaged, lands on the planet Savareen to process the coaxium.

During a confrontation with Enfys, who has tracked the team from Vandor, Lando flees in the Falcon. Enfys explains to Han that she and her crew are not pirates, but rebels trying to prevent the syndicates and the Empire from gaining power. Han becomes sympathetic to their cause and tries to trick Vos, but Beckett has already alerted him to the double-cross. Vos sends his guards to kill Enfys, but the Cloud Riders overpower them instead, leaving Vos defenseless. Having anticipated Vos’s strategy, Han tries to take the coaxium, only for Beckett to betray Vos, escaping with it and taking Chewbacca hostage. Qi’ra kills Vos and sends Han after Beckett; once alone, she contacts Vos’s superior, Maul, to inform him of the mission’s failure and claim Vos’s position within the syndicate. She avoids telling him of Han’s involvement, instead blaming everything on Beckett.

Han catches up to Beckett and confronts him. Han shoots Beckett first before he can shoot him, and with his dying words Beckett tells Han he made the smart choice. Qi’ra leaves in Vos’ yacht, while Han and Chewbacca turn the coaxium over to Enfys. She offers Han a chance to join the rebellion against the Empire; when he declines, she gives him one vial of coaxium, enough to buy a ship of his own. Han and Chewbacca locate Lando and challenge him to a rematch in sabacc, once again wagering the Falcon. Han wins, having stolen the card Lando was keeping up his sleeve in order to cheat, and he and Chewbacca leave for Tatooine, where a “big-shot gangster” is putting together a smuggling operation.

REVIEW:

Han Solo has long been a fan favorite, but we have never really known much about him, how he partnered up with Chewbacca, won the Millennium Falcon, etc. Part of this mystery is what has made him such an endearing character, but there is also that part of all of us that wants to learn more about his past. This is what Solo: A Star Wars Story sets out to accomplish. Was the goal met?

What is this about?

With the emerging demand of hyperfuel and other resources, Han Solo finds himself in the middle of a heist alongside other criminals, where they meet the likes of Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian in an adventurous situation exposing the criminal underworld of the Star Wars saga.

What did I like?

Kessel run. In Star Wars, one of the first things out of Han Solo’s mouth is how he made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. When we meet Lando Calrissian in Empire Strikes Back, he also alludes to it, if I’m not mistaken. For something that is such a major bragging point, one would think we’d have seen it. Hell, i had no idea what the Kessel run was until halfway through this film. I was thinking it was some kind of race, a la Cannonball Run, so I am very pleased to learn what this was and see it actually happen.

All hail, Khalessi. Every review of this film that i have heard and/or read is praising Donald Glover’s performance as Lando Calrissian, and with good reason. With Han, the jury seems to be split, though. I want to speak about Emilia Clarke. First off, Solo better back up off my future wife!!! Second, anyone that has seen an episode of Game of Thrones is more than aware of the acting chops this young actress has, but one thing that hasn’t really been put on display are her action chops. Sure, she starred in the last Terminator film, but who actually watched that? If she keeps making these blockbuster films, she is sure to be one Hollywood’s “it” girls. Some would say she is more deserving that most of the current crop.

Bring the fun. Surely by now, you have heard of the massive backlash against The Last Jedi and most of the cast and crew. If you haven’t, go look it up on YouTube, or google some of the insane things the rabid fan have said while hiding in their parents’  basement eating hot pockets and breathing heavily through their mouths. For me, I feel these films dubbed “the new trilogy” are too dark and serious. Somehow, the makers of this film remembered that the original films may have had some dark themes interspersed with exciting action, but there was also fun and levity in there as well, something these new films seem to forget.

What didn’t I like?

Language barrier. This whole time we’ve been under the impression that Han and Chewbacca just understood each other. Well, throw that assumption away because, according to this film, Han speaks Wookie. Now, i will give the film credit for introducing that aspect of their relationship because it explains how they got together in the first place. However, they way  they bring it up in their initial meeting and it is never mentioned or used again is what i didn’t like. No, we didn’t need to hear Han butchering the Wookie language (it is explained that he isn’t a Wookie linguist), but perhaps gradually show the growing relationship and understanding of the two, rather than two Wookie lines and bam, they can understand each other perfectly.

Cat scratch fever. I was just made aware as i was setting this review up that the character of Dryden Vos was originally to be played by Michael K. Williams, but was recast with Paul Bettany because of scheduling issues. My problem has nothing to do with Bettany nor does it involve some comparison of the two actors. My issue is with the look of the character. Had Williams been able to return to the set for reshoots, we’d have seen a true alien life form, much like we are used to seeing in this universe. Instead, we get Bettany who appears to have had a run in with a lion, tiger, or something along those lines. I guess if this was a last minute addition, i could understand it was a quick fix, but given all the money that this production has, surely something more imaginative could have been done. Unless this was a case of Bettany not wanting to sit in the make up chair for hours on end as I’m sure he has to do to play Vision in The Avengers films.

Low stakes. Through no fault of its own, this picture is flawed. How so? Well, no matter how perilous situation they were put it, we all know nothing is going to happen to Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian, as they appear in the holy trilogy. Much like every character in Rogue One was killed off because they weren’t in the actual films, we have the same scenario here. As much as I liked Lando’s droid L3 and the Emilia Clarke’s character Q’ira, we know what fate awaits them, whether it is in this film or beyond. This is a problem with prequels, you can’t really give the audience a heart attack because of a situation involving the main character because it is already known they survive.

Final verdict on Solo: A Star Wars Story? Something amazing is happening with the Star Wars franchise here in the last few years. We’ve had 4 films. The 2 that continue the main story have been well-received, but reaction has been average at best, most of that coming from The Force Awakens. The other 2 films, this and Rogue One, exist outside the main story, weren’t super hyped-up (personally, I was avoiding this film) and yet, they have been some of the best films in the franchise since the holy trilogy. I could list a laundry list of complaints about this film and end up typing all night, but instead the thing that is most important to know about this film is that is has everything we have come to love about the Star Wars franchise, action, comedy, romance, adventures in space, characters we wish we could be, aliens, etc. For that reason I say this is a must-see!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the remains of the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate Luke and the Republic. The Resistance, a military force backed by the Republic and led by Luke’s sister, Leia Organa, opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.

Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets with village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. Stormtroopers under the command of Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe. Poe’s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and comes across a scavenger, Rey, at a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to kill for the First Order, frees Poe and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku, and Finn appears to be the only survivor. He encounters Rey and BB-8 and tells BB-8 of Poe’s fate, while lying to Rey that he’s a part of the resistance. The First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike, but the three are able to flee the planet in a stolen, rundown ship, the Millennium Falcon.

The Falcon breaks down, leaving Finn and Rey stranded. They are found by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who reclaim their former ship, taking it aboard their freighter. Han reveals to them that the force, the Jedi, and Luke Skywalker, who were thought of as mere stories, were real. He explains that Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order, but after a student turned to the dark side and destroyed all that he had built, Luke went into exile, feeling responsible. Criminal gangs seeking to settle debts with Solo attack, but the five escape in the Falcon. However, the criminals inform the First Order of Han’s involvement with the droid. The Falcon crew arrive at the planet Takodana and meet Maz Kanata, who can help BB-8 reach the Resistance, but Finn wants to flee on his own. Rey is drawn to a vault and finds the lightsaber that belonged to Luke and his father before him. She experiences disturbing visions, and flees into the woods. Maz then gives Finn the lightsaber for safekeeping.

At the First Order’s Starkiller Base, a planet converted to a superweapon capable of destroying star systems, Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to use it for the first time; they use the weapon to destroy the Republic capital and its fleet, declaring it the end of the Republic. Snoke also tells Ren that to overcome the call of the Light Side of the Force, Ren must kill his father, Han Solo. The First Order then attacks Takodana. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn, who uses the lightsaber in the fight, are saved by Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, but Rey is captured by Kylo Ren and taken to Starkiller Base. Ren, confident that he could find the map from Rey and didn’t need BB-8, interrogates Rey, but she resists his mind-reading. Discovering she too can use the Force, she escapes her cell with a Jedi mind trick.

Han, Chewbacca, Finn, and BB-8 arrive at the Resistance base on D’Qar, where they meet Leia and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, the latter of which has been inactive since Luke’s disappearance. As Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D’Qar, the Resistance devises a plan to lower the planetary shield so their fighters can attack. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca, and Finn infiltrate the base. They lower the shields, find Rey, set explosives, and encounter Ren. Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side. Though conflicted, Ren kills Han. An angered Chewbacca shoots Ren in the arm, kills several stormtroopers, and sets off the planted explosives, allowing the Resistance X-wing fighters to attack the weakened weapon and starting a chain reaction that destroys Starkiller Base.

The injured Ren chases Finn and Rey to the surface. Ren, bent on taking his grandfather’s lightsaber for himself, knocks Rey unconcious, forcing Finn to battle Ren with the lightsaber. Finn holds his own and even slashes Ren in the arm, but he is wounded by Ren. Ren tries to take the lightsaber using the force, but a now concious Rey proves to be stronger with the force and takes the lightsaber to fight Ren. Although Ren is the better lightsaber fighter and starts off with an advantage, she overpowers him with the Force and wounds him before they are separated by a fissure opening. Snoke orders General Hux to evacuate and bring Ren to him, while Rey, Chewbacca, and Finn escape in the Falcon. On D’Qar, the Resistance celebrates its victory while Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han’s death. R2-D2 then awakens and reveals the rest of the map, allowing Rey to travel with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to an island on a distant planet. Finding Luke, Rey offers the lightsaber to him

REVIEW:

Finally, after what has seemed like forever and day, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has arrived in theaters. Those of us super nerd fanboys can die happy…right? Maybe not quite yet. I hear this is only the start of a trilogy, as well as more movies, series, etc. that Disney has planned for the franchise. As long as they don’t go overboard like George Lucas did, that’s fine with me, but it is all for naught if this film is no good.

What is this about?

The Galactic Empire was defeated thirty years ago. The Galaxy is now facing a new threat: a new faction named the First Order. Their main mission is to rule the Galaxy and destroy all who oppose them. Their commander is a ruthless, mysterious, powerful Sith, Kylo Ren. Kylo has an ambition to find and kill the last Jedi who is able to restore order and revive the Jedi ways, Luke Skywalker. Luke’s unknown location is also a main concern for General Leia Organa, a General from the Resistance that now trying to find him too. Han Solo and Chewbacca meet some new companions: Finn, a defective First Order Stormtrooper, and Rey, a scavenger from the Jakku planet who acquired Luke’s location through a BB-8 rolling droid. This unexpected team is forced not only to fight and resist the First Order, but also to find Luke Skywalker

What did I like?

Know where you come from. The prequels are generally reviled by fans of the franchise, so for this film to really stand on its own and not be compared to those it did the smart thing, return to its roots. What do I mean by that? Well, we are now 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and on this planet Jakku, you can see remnants of Star Destroyers, AT-AT, and even the Millennium Falcon is found there. While the latter becomes part of the film, it is still a nice easter egg for us die-hard fans to see these vehicles.

New class. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford could probably still carry this franchise if need be, but they aren’t as young as they used to be. It is time for some new blood to be injected. Enter Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. I didn’t really know what to expect from these two. Boyega I’ve seen in Attack the Block, but I didn’t pay that much attention to him back then and Ridley is cute as a button, but this is one of her first roles. The chemistry these two have, though, really lets them shine when they are together, couple that with the talent they have on their own and these two have very bright futures ahead of them, in this franchise and beyond!

Practicality. George Lucas ruined the holy trilogy by forcing CG into scenes where there wasn’t any and the prequels may as well have been as CG as The Clone Wars animated series. Thankfully, J.J. Abrams shut that down and used mostly all practical effects. Meaning the creatures you see are actual people wearing costumes, as opposed to someone in a MOKAP suit. I really can appreciate this approach to filmmaking. We are entirely to reliant on computers for everything these days, and it isn’t for the better!

What didn’t I like?

Kylo. How do you follow up a classic cinema villain like Darth Vader? Apparently, you create someone similar, give him daddy issues, and throw in the little subplot about his leaving jedi training to follow the Dark Side. Ok, all this works, but something about this guy just wasn’t menacing. He seemed more like that high school bully, rather than a threat to the whole universe. Think back to Star Wars, from the first time we see Darth Vader, it is known that he is not a force to be reckoned with. Don’t get me wrong, Kylo Ren has impressive powers, but there is something that just doesn’t make him a threat, yet. It may have been that he took his mask off, but I can’t be sure.

All for one. As I said earlier, there are some clever easter eggs for those of us that grew up with the holy trilogy, but the biggest of those may be the plot of this film. It is very similar to Episode IV. I was on board with the girl on the desert planet who finds a droid that has to complete its mission, her discovery of jedi powers, and other parts similarities too numerous to list. When it came to the giant planet that destroys solar systems though, I had to take issue. Is there nothing else for the First Order to do but to blow up planets? Did they not learn from the Empire’s mistakes?

Starkiller. How many of you have ever played The Force Unleashed? Anybody? Well, the main character is a clone Darth Vader made and his name is Starkiller. I’m not sure if this is mean to be a coincidence, an easter egg, or what, but naming this giant battle station Starkiller felt a bit forced, pardon the pun, if that was the intention. I guess Death Star III would have been too much, though.

Let’s not beat around the bush, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was definitely worth the wait! I was a little nervous going in that this was going to be one of those overhyped pictured, but it wasn’t. Sure, there are some scenes that I felt could have used a bit of tweaking, especially in the early part of the film, but all in all, this is quite the enjoyable experience. For me, I got the feeling i did (and still do) when i watch the holy trilogy. Now, it isn’t quite at the level yet, but it could get there. Do i recommend this? Yes! Yes! A billion times YES! Why are you wasting time reading this? Go see it NOW!

5 out of 5 stars

Return of the Jedi

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Luke Skywalker, having fashioned himself as a Jedi Knight, initiates a plan to rescue the frozen Han Solo from the vile crime lord Jabba the Hutt with the help of Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Leia infiltrates Jabba’s palace on Tatooine disguised as a bounty hunter and releases Han from his carbonite prison, but is caught and forced to serve as Jabba’s slave girl. Luke arrives the next morning and allows himself to be captured. Jabba sentences Luke and Han to be fed to the monstrous Sarlacc. As he is about to be put to death, Luke breaks free and a large battle erupts; in the ensuing chaos, Leia strangles Jabba to death with her slave chains, Han inadvertently knocks Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who captured him, into the gaping maw of the Sarlacc, and Luke, escaping with his allies, destroys Jabba’s sail barge. As Han and Leia rendezvous with the other Rebels, Luke returns to Dagobah where he finds that Yoda is dying. With his last breaths, Yoda confirms that the evil Darth Vader is Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker, and that Luke must confront him again to become a true Jedi Knight. He and the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi also reveal that Luke has a twin sister, whom Luke deduces to be Leia.

The Rebel Alliance learn that the Empire has been constructing a new Death Star, larger and more powerful than the first. In a plan to destroy the new weapon, Han is elected to lead a strike team to destroy the battle station’s shield generator on the forest moon of Endor, allowing a squadron of starfighters to enter the incomplete infrastructure and destroy the station from within. Returning from Dagobah, Luke joins the strike team along with Leia and the others, but soon fears that, sensing Darth Vader’s presence, he may be endangering the mission. On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a primitive yet intelligent tribe of Ewoks and form an alliance with them. Later, Luke confesses to Leia everything he knows about his relationship to Vader and to her, and that he is leaving to confront Vader one more time, believing that there is still good in him.

Luke and Vader board the Death Star and meet the evil Emperor, who reveals that Luke’s allies are walking into a trap. Back on Endor, the Rebels are captured by Imperial forces, but a surprise counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to fight back. During the strike team’s assault, Lando leads the Rebel fleet in the Millennium Falconto the Death Star, only to find the station’s shield is still up. As a dogfight ensues, the Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger and join the dark side of the Force. A lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader erupts, during which Vader searches Luke’s thoughts and learns that Luke has a sister. When Vader suggests she would turn to the dark side instead, Luke cannot contain his anger and viciously attacks his father, slicing off his hand. However, he comes to his senses and, despite the Emperor’s goading, spares his father and declares himself a Jedi. Enraged, the Emperor begins to slowly kill Luke with Force lightning. His son’s agonized pleas for help causes Vader to repent, becoming Anakin Skywalker once more. He turns on the Emperor and casts him down a reactor shaft to his death, but is mortally wounded by the Emperor’s lightning. At his request, Luke removes Anakin’s mask to look into the eyes of the pale, withered man that is his father. Having seen his son with his own eyes for the first, last and only time, Anakin dies, finally at peace.

Back on Endor, the strike team finally destroys the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch a final assault on the Death Star. Lando leads the remaining ships deep into the station’s core and fires at the main reactor, causing it to collapse. Luke escapes on an Imperial shuttle with his father’s body before the Death Star explodes, and Lando escapes in the Millennium Falcon. On Endor, Leia reveals to Han that Luke is her brother, and they share a kiss. That evening, Luke returns to Endor and cremates his father’s armor on a funeral pyre. The entire galaxy celebrates the fall of the Empire. During the Rebels’ own celebration on Endor, Luke catches sight of the spiritual figures of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his redeemed father, who watch over them with pride.

REVIEW:

The final film in the Star WArs saga is a fitting conclusion that warps everything thing up in a nice little package.

All the characters return for this gigantic climax, and we’re introduced to the Ewoks, as well as actually get to meet the Emperor.

Emperor Palpatine, as it turns out, is the one who has been pulling all the strings and more or less runs the universe. Before the prequel trilogy was release, this wasn’t common knowledge. Surprisingly, though, Palpatine is played by the same actor in each film, except for his brief appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. I thought it was a different actor, but apparentl Ian McDiarmid IS the Emperor.

A lot of people call the Ewoks, mini Wookies. When you see them with Chewbacca, you can see why they would say this, but I still don’t think its a good enough reason to call them that. The Ewoks are their own race and are totally different from the Wookies. The only similarities between the two races are that they are both fuzzy/hairy.

In Empire, Vader was let off the leash and wrecked all types of havoc. Sadly, in this one, he is scaled back and for the most part, is a much softre character than he is in the previouis two films, and maybe even in the entire saga.

When we first me Luke Skywalker, he was an insecure, rebellious kid. His first appearance in this film leads us to believe he’s a confident Jedi knight. In the battle about the sand cruiser, his skills shine through.

Han and Leia take a backseat to Luke’s saga, but they are not without their moments, such as their budding romance, Leia’s discovery that she’s Luke’s sister, Han getting released from carbonite, etc.

Jabba’s palace is a disgusting place. It reminds me of the fat kings or grungy gangsters from cartoons. I wonder if those were the influence. Still, its not without it’s impressive points, such as the Rancor and the Sarlacc, as well as the plethora of character alines in Jaba’s throneroom.

So, of course, I have to bring up the addition that Geoge Lucas made to the DVD in an attempt to “enhance the viewer’s experience”. They suck! first off, we have this weird song that was thrown in during the inital throneroom scene. Obviously, thiswas meant to capture the audience way “Cantina Band” does, but it just doesn’t work. Next we have the celebration at end of the film. The idea is good, but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film. It is quite obvious that they tacked it on. Finally, before the end credits run, Luke looks over and seen Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his father, Anakin. Originally, he saw the actor that played Anakin in the 3 films, but he has since been replaced with Hayden Christensen. Not to take anything away from Hayden, because I understand the reasoning behind all this, but I honestly think they should have left well enough alone.

The action scenes are just as awesome as the previous films. The lightsabe duel doesn’t have the intensoty of its predecssor, but the stakes are different and that influenced it, I belive. All this aside. This is a bit of a downgrade from its predecessor, but it is still an awesome flick and no one should live their life without seeing it and the other two parts of the “holy trinity.”

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Empire Strikes Back

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Despite their victory over the Galactic Empire with the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance was driven out of their base and forced to establish a new base on the remote ice planet Hoth. Darth Vader, having become obsessed with finding Luke Skywalker, now a commanding officer within the Rebellion, has multiple probe droids dispatched throughout the galaxy, one of which lands on Hoth. While patrolling near the base, Luke is attacked and knocked unconscious by an indigenous predator, called a Wampa. Back at the base, Han Solo announces his intentions to leave the Rebellion to pay off a debt to Jabba the Hutt (much to Princess Leia’s displeasure), but stalls to search for Luke when he doesn’t return. Escaping from the creature’s lair, Luke nearly succumbs to the cold and has a vision of his late mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs him to go to the planet Dagobah to train under Jedi Master Yoda.

Han finds Luke and provides shelter before they are rescued the following morning. Meanwhile, the Imperial probe droid locates the Rebel base on Hoth, and Vader orders an attack while the Rebels prepare to evacuate and disperse. The Imperial forces eventually overpower the Rebels and capture the base. Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falconwith C-3PO and Chewbacca, but are unable to enter hyperspace due to technical difficulties and evade pursuit in an asteroid field, where Han and Leia begin to grow closer to each other. Vader turns to several notorious bounty hunters, including Boba Fett, to assist in locating the Falcon. Meanwhile, Luke escapes from Hoth with R2-D2 and crash lands on Dagobah, where he meets a wizened little green creature who reveals himself to be Yoda. While undergoing intensive training, Luke has a premonition of Han and Leia in danger and, against Yoda’s wishes, leaves to save his friends, promising to return to complete his training.

With Imperial forces off their trail, Han’s party set a course for Cloud City, a floating gas mining colony in the skies of the planet Bespin run by Han’s old friend, Lando Calrissian, unaware that they have been tracked by Fett. Shortly after they arrive in Cloud City, Lando turns them over to Vader to be used as bait in a trap for Luke, insisting that he was forced to do so to prevent occupation of his city by the Empire. Vader intends to hold Luke in suspended animation via carbon freezing, selecting Han as a test subject for the process. Before Han is frozen in carbonite, he and Leia profess their love for each other. Han’s frozen form is given to Fett, who plans to present him to Jabba the Hutt. Lando later repents and helps Leia and the others escape, insisting that there is still a chance to save Han. Unfortunately, Fett makes off with his quarry before they get a chance to confront him, forcing them to make an escape on the Millennium Falcon.

Meanwhile, Luke arrives in Cloud City and falls right into Vader’s trap. He and Vader engage in a lightsaber duel within the carbon-freezing facilities, eventually bringing them to the city’s central air shaft. Gaining an advantage, Vader cuts off Luke’s dueling hand along with his lightsaber. With Luke cornered and defenseless, Vader goads Luke to rule the galaxy alongside him, making the horrifying revelation that he is Luke’s father. Unwilling to join Vader, Luke casts himself into the air shaft and finds himself hanging on an antenna on the underbelly of the city. He makes a desperate call to Leia, who senses Luke’s distress aboard the Millennium Falconand manages to get him to safety. Its hyperdrive finally functional (thanks to timely repairs by R2-D2)the Falconescapes. Aboard a Rebel medical frigate, Luke is fitted with an artificial hand while Lando and Chewie set out on the Falcon to locate Han.

REVIEW:

It doesn’t matter how many times I see this film, it gets better everytime. I refer to it as the crown jewel of the saga. If you don’t see any other film in the saga, this is the one you need watch. In my opinion, it is THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!!

Now that I’ve made that point very clear, allow me the chance to do an actual review here.

The Empire Strikes Back picks up shortly after the events of Star Wars. Having said that, there is just a different feel to this film. Similar to many sequels, everything seems to be in the right place for greatness, but even more so here. We have Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire hellbent on extracting revenge from Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. Then we have Luke who is growing into a man and needs to be trained in the ways of the Force. Han Solo and Leia both have some added depth to their characters and moved up from supporting characters to featured stars. The special effects are infinitely better than in the previous film, and the story is much better executed. These are not knocks against he first film, but rather signs of growth and improvement that make this film superior.

One thing I especially love is how Darth Vader is actually the villain here. In Star Wars he doesn’t really do anything except kill Obi-Wan. Return of the Jedi has him being the Emperor’s bitch. Here he runs the show.

I can’t review this particular film without bringing up the immortal scene where Vader tells Luke he is his father (fitting that I review this on Father’s Day). This is a powerful piece of cinema that provides a twist that affects the climax and resolution of the entire series (don’t forget the mention of “another” by Obi-Wan). I wasn’t old enough to see this in theaters when it was released, but I can just imagine the reaction when that revelation was made. I bet you could hear a pin drop in theaters around the world.

This film also brings us the greatest of all the Jedi, Yoda. If you’ve seen the prequel trilogy, then you know that Yoda was a complete bad-ass, before his self-imposed exile, as well as an impressive teacher. Is it any wonder that Obi-Wan sent Luke to him, besides that fact that there are no Jedi left besides him. Granted, Yoda is more comic fodder in his initial appearance, but the wisdom he spouts after he reveals who he really is puts Confucius to shame.

As with the first film, George Lucas decided he just had to “enhance the experience” by making slight changes in the special edition. Now, these changes are subtle for the most part, such as there being windows in the Cloud City instead of it being a pure white hallway, but changes like this are nothing more than waste of time and money. They don’t enhance it for me. I prefer the original, but don’t really care either way.

Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carri Fisher reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia respectively. Luke has shown tremendous growth sicne the last film, as I mentioned before. Han is still on the run from bounty hinter , Princess Leia is still leading the Rebel Alliance, and attempting to hide her feelings for Solo, not very well, mind you.

Aside from being both the token black guy and big name actor, Billy Dee Williams brings a new character to the universe, Lando Calrissian. Lando is a friend of Han’s, who apparently was the previous owner/pilot of the Millennium Falcon, but now instead of hustling in poker games, he’s a legit politician. Billy Dee is pretty nice casting for Lando, and he pulls off the swerve nicely. Too bad that his character gets a bad rap. Fans think of him as a villain for betraying Han and even after the events of Return of the Jedi,they don’t care to forgive them. Fanboys can be so fickle, sometimes.

As you can see, I’m very passionate about this film. Whenever it comes on TV, no matter how far in or what I’m watching at the time, I stop and watch. If you haven’t seen this masterpiece yet, then you should. You probably won’t have the extreme feelings I ave, but you will realize that you’ve just watched one of the greatest films of all time, not to mention a clinic on how/what sequels should be done.

5 out of 5 stars

Star Wars

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The galaxy is in a state of civil war. Spies for the Rebel Alliance have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire’s Death Star: a space station capable of annihilating a planet. Rebel leader Princess Leia is in possession of the plans, but her ship is captured by Imperial forces under the command of Darth Vader. Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in a droid named R2-D2, along with a holographic recording. The small droid escapes to the surface of the desert planet Tatooine with fellow droid C-3PO. The two droids are quickly captured by Jawa traders, who sell the pair to moisture farmer Owen Lars and his nephew, Luke Skywalker. While Luke is cleaning R2-D2, he accidentally triggers part of Leia’s holographic message, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only “Kenobi” Luke knows of is an old hermit named Ben Kenobi who lives in the nearby hills; Owen, however, dismisses any connection, suggesting that Obi-Wan is dead.

During dinner, R2-D2 escapes to seek Obi-Wan. Luke and C-3PO go out after him and are met by Ben Kenobi, who reveals himself to be Obi-Wan and takes Luke and the droids back to his hut. He tells Luke of his days as a Jedi Knight and explains to Luke about a mysterious energy field called the Force. He also tells Luke about his association with Luke’s father, also a Jedi, whom he claims to have been betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader, Obi-Wan’s former pupil who turned to the Sith. Obi-Wan then views Leia’s message, in which she begs him to take R2-D2 and the Death Star plans to her home planet of Alderaan, where her father will be able to retrieve and analyze them. Obi-Wan asks Luke to accompany him to Alderaan and to learn the ways of the Force. After initially refusing, Luke discovers that his home has been destroyed and his aunt and uncle killed by Imperial stormtroopers in search of the droids. Luke agrees to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan, and the two hire smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca to transport them on their ship, the Millennium Falcon.

Meanwhile, Leia has been imprisoned on the Death Star and has resisted giving the location of the secret Rebel base. Grand Moff Tarkin, the Death Star’s commanding officer and Vader’s superior, tries to coax information out of her by threatening to destroy Alderaan and proceeds to do so even after she appears to cooperate as a means of demonstrating the power of the Empire’s new weapon. When the Falconarrives at Alderaan’s coordinates, they find themselves in a field of rubble. They follow a TIE fighter towards the Death Star and are captured by the station’s tractor beam and brought into its hangar bay. The group takes refuge in a command room on the station while Obi-Wan goes off by himself to disable the tractor beam. While they are waiting, they discover that Princess Leia is onboard and is scheduled to be executed. Han, Luke, and Chewbacca stage a rescue and free the princess. Making their way back to the Millennium Falcon, their path is cleared by the spectacle of a lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. Obi-Wan allows himself to be struck down as the others race onto the ship and escape.

The Falconjourneys to the Rebel base at Yavin IV where the Death Star plans are analyzed by the Rebels and a potential weakness is found. The weakness will require the use of one-man fighters to slip past the Death Star’s formidable defenses and attack a vulnerable exhaust port. Luke joins the assault team while Han collects his reward for the rescue and leaves, despite Luke’s request for him to stay. The attack proceeds when the Death Star arrives in the system, with Darth Vader having placed a homing device on the Falcon. The Rebel fighters suffer heavy losses and, after several failed attack runs, Luke remains as one of the few surviving pilots. Vader appears with his own group of fighters and begins attacking the Rebel ships. Luke begins his attack run with Vader in pursuit as the Death Star approaches firing range of Yavin IV. As Vader is about to fire at Luke’s ship, Han arrives in the Millennium Falconand attacks Vader and his wingmen, sending Vader’s ship careening off into space. Guided by Obi-Wan’s voice telling him to use the Force, Luke fires a successful shot which destroys the Death Star seconds before it fires on the Rebel base. Later, at a grand ceremony, Princess Leia awards medals to Luke and Han for their heroism in the battle.

REVIEW:

In chronological order, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, is the beginning, but for true fans of the saga, and all intensive purposes, this is one started it all.

When this film was released in 1977, everything was state of the art and cutting edge. Now, 32 years later, technology has advanced quite a bit, but it remains cutting edge.

John Williams’ brilliant score sets the tone for this masterpiece. All you need to do is hear that first note and you know you’re in for quite the experience…and it just gets better from that point on.

I don’t understand the term “space opera.” I was taught that operas were people singing most if not all the lines. There is no singing to be heard anywhere in this film.

Mark Hamill was an unknown when this film was released, but now he’s all but a household name because of his portrayal of Luke Skywalker. I will say that this is his weakest performance of the 3 parts of the “holy trilogy”, but that’s because Luke is a weaker character in this film.

Harrison Ford was up and coming, but not quite a star when he was cast as Han Solo. As Solo, he brings a brash cockiness with a hint of hidden compassion that really manifests itself near the film’s end.

Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. Leia is a strong female lead, but may best be known for her hairstyles (must run in the family, since her mother is Padme Amidala from the prequel trilogy).

Darth Vader, similar to Luke, doesn’t really live up to his potential, but good things are on the horizon. James Earl Jones lends his powerful booming voice to the quintessential space villain and Sith lord. The power he possesses that we saw at the end of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is still in tact, and may have even grown over the years.

The first scene of this masterpiece more than sets the tone for the entire picture. An epic battle in space filled with lots of lasers and a kidnapping.

The Death Star is quite the intimidating weapon. Think about it, a planet sized space station with enough firepower to destroy a planet. That’s uber-scary if you ask me.

My complaints with this film all stem from George Lucas’ decision too “enhance the viewer’s please” by adding graphics, effects, and whatnot. I’m a bit of a purist, but even if I wasn’t I would not be a fan of these. They stick out like a sore thumb and are quite unnecessary.

Every saga has to have a beginning, and the better said beginning is, chances are the more epic the entire sage will be. Star Wars fits that bill to a “T”. It is subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope because it is indeed a new hope for science fiction and film in general.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars