Film Review: Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker SPOILER FREE

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Here we are, the “Avengers Endgame” to the series that formed the childhood of billions of kids from the 70’s and 80’s.  But here’s something to ponder on as you read this review on the toilet at work (that’s right, your companies should pay YOU to poop):  After starting my new podcast, “Gutting the Sacred Cow” (If you like my reviews and standup comedy, enjoy other comedians coming onto the show and arguing why some of the most beloved, successful, or acclaimed films stink or are overrated.  Shameless plug over.   GTSC link on iTunes )  I’ve had to re-watch the latest Star Wars films and boy, this latest trilogy thus far is failing in the rewatchability department. The Force Awakens is like a watery lobster bisque with 4 big chunks of lobster but no real substance or base.  And the Last Jedi, wow.  Was I wrong when I wrote my initial review.  Man, that film has tons of faults compounded with a bunch of hard choices that had better pay off in 9.  Do they pay off? Well, see below and of course, no spoilers.  But before you do, go google Adam Driver as a Marine.  Kevin Pollak said his face looks like a cab with the doors open.  Hilarious.

JJ Abrams back at the director’s helm after Rian Johnson sent Last Jedi to the bottom of the discount DVD bin.  BTW, hearing the opening music and seeing the opening scroll really hit me as this is (for now) the END of the Skywalker story.  Also, it’s the last time we’ll hear anything new from John Williams as this was his final film.  And this man is without question the GREATEST film composer to have ever lived.  He’s on Mt Rushmore in the George Washington slot, zero debate allowed.

Kylo Ren finds his way to the Emperor; yes, that Emperor we loved from Return of the Jedi, and is told he has to kill Rey.  Now, let’s stop here.  Do we learn how in the living fuck he survived being thrown down a reactor AND THEN EXPLODING IN THE DEATH STAR?  We do not.  Which is problem number one for me, a BIG ONE.  How are we going to skate over one of the BEST villains in film history just magically reappears on a Sith planet that reminds me of the final battle in the last Matrix film?  BTW, a hidden planet of Sith?  Remember the rule of Sith?  There are only 2 at all times; no more, no less.  So less than 10 minutes, we’re pissing all over rules and skating past premises that need REAL explanation.  BTW, there are 2 sentences that mention the recently departed, Snoke.  Just two.  I’ll let that simmer with you for a few minutes.  How about some good news? Adam Driver thankfully puts his Kylo Ren back together so we don’t see his face as much in this film.

Rey has been training and became insanely strong in the Force, almost Jedi Knight status.  The Rebels are still a small band lead by CGI’ed Princess Leia.  Apparently, they had some unused footage of Carrie Fisher from Last Jedi and why not squeeze in a few scenes with her in the final chapter.  Rey and Kylo Ren continue to FaceTime via the Force as he taunts her with the knowledge of her parents and her lineage.  Their interactions are always good as he’s continuing to enlist her to join him and become part of the Dark Side.

My next complaint is when the both find their way to the Death Star ruins where Rey seeks out a tracker to find the planet of the Sith.  They battle it out (relax, you see them doing this in trailer where they’re soaking wet) and at the end of the battle, there’s a REAL problem with the result.  Not spoiling it but I completely disagreed with it.  I even leaned over to my buddy and said, “Nope.  But we know how this will play out later.”

There are a couple of surprises and appearances that are enjoyable but this film is mostly disjointed.  Too many new characters are introduced but I wish they spent the screen time interacting more with the established ones AND giving a modicum of backstory.  And DEFNINTELY not enough of Lando Calrissian!  We dig BDW and his Colt 45 million dollar smile out of retirement to have him in 3 or 4 scenes?  No thank you, I demand more of him; especially when original characters like Han Solo and Luke are dead.  Instead, we’re dealing with Poe and Finn who we never get to REALLY embrace and form a bond with.  We learn a LITTLE more about Poe as the crew goes to a planet to get a droid to hack 3PO’s memory and Poe runs into a former smuggler/lover.  But not enough where he or Finn makes anyone’s favorite character list.  Again, this recent trilogy did a watered down version from all aspects while trying to replicate the original.  With the exception of Rey and Ren, no characters have any layers.

Lastly and without getting into gory details, I hated the ending.  INSANELY anti-climactic.  The final battle had ZERO pathos like Return of the Jedi did.  You FELT for Luke as he learned Vader wanted to turn his sister.  You FELT for Vader as he weighed his decision to either serve the Emperor or save his son.  And that lightsaber battle in Jedi was just simply amazing.  This was much shorter than I felt was deserved.  And of course, the question still burns, what happened with Rey and her parents on Jakku?  After the reveal, I again turned to my buddy after the reveal and said, “Insanely fucking lazy.”  I was floored it came down to this decision because there is/was ZERO groundwork laid for this choice.  Sorry, here’s one spoiler, the Rebels win.  Like you didn’t think that was going to happen.  The final celebration scene felt muted.  I’ve seen more emotion from a night manager at Burger King closing up at 3 AM.  No one was REALLY stoked that the Empire was finally gone.  You see TWO Ewoks celebrating at the end of this one!  The ENTIRE VILLAGE ON ENDOR was hooping and hollering.  Statues fell when the Empire did.  Ships shooting off fireworks.  People dancing in the street.  Pure jubilation.  This felt like the last day of school instead of winning a massive battle.  Tons of unanswered questions or poor answers litter this film and that just doesn’t sit well with me.  But I’ll end this review with some good news: MUCH LESS ROSE than the Last Jedi.  She’s the 2nd worst character in the Star Wars Universe next to Jar Jar.

I definitely to rewatch this to fully digest everything but in short, I was very disappointed.  The critics were wrong, the people are right.

4.5 out of 10

Current order of Star Wars films (subject to change after I rewatch TROS)

  1. Star Wars
  2. Return of the Jedi
  3. Empire Strikes Back
  4. Rogue 1
  5. Revenge of the Sith-Severely underrated, people lump it in with the first 2 sequels when it should be separated from them.
  6. Attack of the Clones- the 2nd half is solid.  Whiny Anakin first half, awful.
  7. Force Awakens
  8. Rise of Skywalker
  9. Solo
  10. Last Jedi
  11. Phantom Menace-You take out Darth Maul and the final lightsaber scene, this film is a 2/10.

Film Review: Logan Lucky

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After doing some quick math, I think I saw double the number of films this summer vs last year’s garbage dump of cinematic “attempts.”  Logan Lucky is going to wrap up this crop of summer’s films and then it’s time to get ready for the usual onslaught of awful films from September-Thanksgiving.  However, I can see 2 early exceptions to this rule: Stephen King’s IT (that clown looks scarier than the Jets chances of making the playoffs) as well as the sequel for the Kingsmen.  If you haven’t seen the first Kingsmen film, do so.  It’s insanely well done and director Matthew Vaughn RARELY misses (see Wanted with Angelina Jolie as said exception.)  Anyway, on to Lucky Logan.

I must have missed the memo but apparently, Steven Soderbergh went into retirement for a little while but now he’s re-emerged with the hillbilly version of Ocean’s 11, Logan Lucky.  Soderbergh recasts one of his usual suspects, Channing Tatum, to play Jimmy Logan, a West Virginia good ol boy who just lost his job and comes up with a scheme to rob the Charlotte motor speedway.  Joining him is his one handed, bartender brother, Clyde, (Adam Driver who needs to wear his Kylo Ren mask wherever he goes, he’s one ugly dude) and his hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Kelough).  Katie Holmes plays Jimmy’s ex wife with whom he’s constantly battling over their beauty pageant daughter.  I must say, she hasn’t aged well.  Watch an underrated film called, Go, from 1999 and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Although my vote for scene stealer goes to Daniel Craig who plays Joe Bang, a demolition expert that’s current locked up in the hoosegow.  He’s hilarious and you can see him having fun with this character and accent.

This film has a slight “Dukes of Hazard” feel to it with the Yee-hah, state fair, NASCAR lovin’ country folk.  The only thing missing was a Trump reference but thankfully, Soderbergh doesn’t go down Stereotype Boulevard with that.  And just like Ocean’s 11, there’s a crew involved.  But the differences start here because I felt myself more attached to the Ocean’s crew than the Logan group.  It’s not that the characters do anything to inspire the audience hatred, I just didn’t smile as much or wanted to see or hear more of their characters.  If you’ve seen any of the Ocean’s films, Soderbergh uses his usual visual and musical clues for the audience to make sure that they pay attention to said clues.  He also put it best in an interview: this is a crew using “rubber band technology” as opposed to Clooney’s group having state of the art gadgets.  That does fit this group more soundly as it would be weird with a Boss Hog type using lasers to cut through glass.

The critics are loving the bejesus out of this film but I wasn’t as on board with their praise.  I felt the payoff in the end didn’t pack as powerful as a punch as it could have.  Hillary Swank comes in late as an FBI investigator and I felt she really didn’t add anything to the film.  Was this film fine?  Yes.  Is it as good as the reviews are?  No.  Should you pay $15 bucks for it?  Up to you but I’ll bet you’ll walk out saying, “Not bad, not great either.”

I give it a 6/10