Film Freak: A Wrinkle In Time

wrinkleSomeone once said in regards to movies based on books that the reason the book is usually superior is that the book is allowed to be itself. Maybe that’s why so many books, like Wrinkle In Time, often defy any attempts to adapt them. When this movie got Oprah Winfrey, I cringed. I cringed even more when it got a low score on Rotten Tomatoes. You see, I love A Wrinkle in Time. The whole cycle is one of my favorite series of all time. So I felt I had to give the movie a chance. What a mistake that was.

First, a warning. I am cutting the kids in the movie some slack. I know it’s hard to get good child actors, so I’m not expecting that. The adults, I’m not going lightly on. Anyway, on to the positives.

I didn’t have a problem with the multi-racial cast. Madeline L’Engle never specified what her characters’ nationalities were, so I don’t mind Meg being African-American. It’s a take I didn’t have in mind, but hey, if they want to mix up the races in the story, I’m fine. (I personally thought Meg was a redheard with an Irish accent, but that’s me.) Of the three women who played the Misses, Reese Witherspoon gave the best performance. The computer effects were fine. In fact, the visuals were mostly the only good thing about the movie. But when is Hollywood going to realize they can make the prettiest movie ever, but if it has no substance, it’s worthless?

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Film Freak: The Last Jedi

lastjediLast year, I celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first Star Wars movie by reviewing all the movies that had been released up to that point, stopping at The Force Awakens. For those who were wondering why I didn’t review The Last Jedi, it was because I didn’t think I’d see it in time to include it in my recap. I have no theater nearby, and they cost a LOT these days anyway.

So, was it worth waiting longer than most people to see what happens after that great cliffhanger of Rey finding Luke and giving him his light saber? Yes! In fact, I’ll say this right now: The Last Jedi is the best Disney Star Wars movie so far. It’s the best movie since the prequels. Ignore every hater.

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Remembering Star Wars: Rogue One

rogue oneWhen Disney acquired Star Wars from George Lucas, they decided to release one movie each year at Christmas. This started with Episode 7, The Force Awakens. In addition to the main movies (the “episodes”), we would also get movies that touch up more on the mythos of the franchise. Rogue One was just the first of these. Because it is the most recent Star Wars movie released, I have chosen it to end my retrospective. I don’t think I’ll be able to see The Last Jedi before the end of the year, so I will wait for the DVD.

Rogue One takes place before the very first Star Wars movie and follows a team of rebels attempting to retrieve the plans for the first Death Star (because Return of the Jedi has a Death Star too).

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Remembering 40 Years of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-the-force-awakens-poster

When I heard that a new company had taken over Star Wars from George Lucas, I had mixed feelings. He was 100% involved with the prequels, and while I liked them, I still came to the same conclusion that most people did: less is more. When he did the originals, he had other people telling him what they thought worked, which was part of the reason he wanted 100% involvement in the prequels. He felt we weren’t getting his full vision. But now, Disney would have very little of Lucas, even less than the originals did.

Then I found out JJ Abrahms was directing. I was still wary. You see, I do like what Abrahms did with Star Trek, but my main problem with his version is that he doesn’t want the movies to be their own thing. He kept relying on Nimoy to come in and play future Spock, instead of creating his own thing. JJ Abrahms is a great producer, but he’s much better when he’s playing with his own toys, like in Lost, Cloverfield, or Super 8. (I never watched Alias, by the way) So I wasn’t sure. But I decided to do what I always do, give the new guy a chance.

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40 Years of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

attack of the clonesThe Phantom Menace, despite what people said about it, actually did well at the box office. This is why I say Star Wars can do no wrong. They can make a movie that is almost universally considered one of the worst movies ever, and it can still make great returns.

In the original trilogy, Empire Strikes Back was darker than A New Hope. Temple of Doom is the darkest of the Indiana Jones movies. That pattern continues here as well. And it seems George Lucas learned from his mistakes in The Phantom Menace. I could see why he wanted total control over these movies. Even though his name was still associated with the original trilogy, Lucas had people that would tell him if his ideas didn’t work. Here, he doesn’t have to worry about that. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but I’m saying I can see his reasoning.

One thing I like about this movie is that Jar Jar Binks is barely in it. He’s not the overbearing klutz he is in the previous movie  He still makes mistakes, but it’s more frightening because Emperor Palpatine doesn’t even have to use Jedi mind control to coerce him. In fact, a lot of the deception that Palpatine weaves is done through his own charisma, not mind control. That’s why he’s such a great villain. He knows when to use his powers and when not to.

I like that the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin has matured to the point where they’re now trading witty banter. I especially love the scene where Kenobi laments to Anakin “Why do I have the feeling you’ll be the death of me?”

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Film Freak: Star Wars 40th Anniversary: The Phantom Menace

phantom menace

The prequels are often considered the worst part of the Star Wars saga. In fact, many fans would like to pretend they don’t exist. As I said in my review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, fans don’t get to decide what’s canon. The films exist and it’s time someone said something positive about them.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way because they’ve been said to death. Was Jar Jar Binks annoying? Yes. Was Jake Lloyd bad? Yes, but so was everyone who treated him so badly afterward. Hate the film, that’s fine. but don’t tear down a kid like that in the process. Were the midichlorians a bad explanation of The Force? Yes, actually I would’ve preferred no explanation at all. The Force is magic, and magic isn’t cool once you explain how it works. It ceases to be magic at all.

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Film Freak: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantastic beasts

Back when JK Rowling was originally writing Harry Potter, there were often gaps between books because the books got longer with each volume. During one of these gaps, she wrote two books that supposedly could be found in Hogwarts’ s library: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (writing as Newt Scamander) and Quidditch Through the Ages (writing as Kennilworthy Whisp) Although I wondered what these two “writers” were like, I never thought they’d be a subject of a movie. But here we are, with a new set of prequels for the movies. The movies were a mixed bag as adaptations go, but how would these people fare with an original script?

Some might even wonder why Rowling has gone back to the Harry Potter universe again. My theory is that it’s because The Casual Vacancy, her attempt an adult novel, bombed. So why not use something that actually did make money to pay the bills? And unlike the more hipster-ish fans out there, I don’t think it’s bad that she’s making money again. However, I was among the many that didn’t like Cursed Child. So what about this?

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