All posts by Orange Rambler

The Farce Awakens(?)

I haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet (practically no one has), so there are no spoilers to worry about in this post. This is just my rambling thoughts and expectations about the movie.

Let's get the ball rolling.

Let’s get the ball rolling.

First, this movie has a lot of potential. It looks fairly accurate to the spirit of Star Wars, since it’s primarily an action movie. So far, there’s no indication of any of the boring political stuff that made the prequels so non-amazing. In the trailers, we see cool spaceship battles, cool lightsaber battles, and cool laser battles. The movie will definitely be cool, whether or not it lives up to expectations in other areas, like story and universe development.

This movie is arguably one of the most anticipated/hyped movies in recent history. It’s the new continuation of an old and loved franchise. There’s new actors, new characters, new planets, and, of course, a new director. One of the only reasons I have hope for this movie is that J.J. Abrams is directing it. He did a really good job on the recent Star Trek movies. I mean, he turned Star Trek into something totally watchable and cool. Not an easy task. One of the things he’s doing that I’m excited about is using a lot of practical effects. The original trilogy was awesome because of all the amazing practical effects, and the Prequel trilogy really suffered from too much CGI. Hopefully this movie won’t fall into the same trap.

Come on, there is no way J.J. can do worse than Episode I.

Episode VII looks like it will be a pretty good continuation of the Star Wars story, with the Rebellion growing stronger and the Empire declining after the Battle of Endor. It has Luke, Han, Leia, and a bunch of other old characters,  but it also introduces us to some new characters, including the villain: Kylo Ren. And that leads me to a key point: the designs in the movie.

I’ll start by saying the new three-bladed lightsaber is kind of dumb. It just is. Now, if the movie has a really good explanation of why it’s absolutely necessary for it to have three blades, then I’m on board. But until then, I’m skeptical. Also, I don’t completely get BB-8. I mean, it’s basically a basketball with a head. Totally cool (especially since they made it with practical effects instead of CGI), but it doesn’t make that much sense in the fictional universe. It would be really unstable and would have a lot of trouble on rough terrain. And where do all the cool gadgets come out of?

BB-8 2

Aside from those gripes, I actually like a lot of the designs we see in the trailers. The new stormtroopers are pretty sweet, and I like how they designed Kylo Ren’s helmet. It has a sort of samurai vibe, but is still very dark and Sith-like. Even though Jakku is just a discount Tatooine, the battle in and among the ruined Star Destoyers looks absolutely awesome. The First Order TIE fighters are really cool and seem like a natural evolution of the TIEs from the original trilogy. Those new X-wings are awesome, and again, feel like a logical continuation of the classic X-wings.

I think it’ll be really cool to see what they do with the technology and ships. In the Star Wars universe, three or four decades have passed since Return of the Jedi, so there’s a lot of space for new technological developments.

And now for the most important part: the story. At the end of Return of the Jedi, there are a lot of possible paths a screenwriter could take. Since Disney officially dumped the Extended Universe, there are almost limitless possibilities. (Though it does mean we probably won’t get a Thrawn movie. Bummer.) Anyway, it will be really interesting to see what happens. From what we can see, the Empire is far from destroyed, and the Rebels haven’t really formed a central government yet. So the plot might be very similar to the original trilogy, only with the Rebels/Resistance having won a good bit of ground from the Empire/First Order. It looks like there will be some new Jedi-in-training (as evidenced by the title), but we don’t know what role Luke plays in all of that. We don’t know what Han and Leia are doing, we don’t know what Kylo Ren is doing or where he came from, and we don’t know anything else, really.

Honestly, that’s a good thing. Nothing kills anticipation like a good spoiler, and the trailers and cast interviews have been completely spoiler-free. Of course, the Internet will be totally filled with them  this time tomorrow, but whatever.

Since we know almost nothing about the plot of the movie, I really don’t know whether to be excited or skeptical about it. I know there’ll be parts of the movie I really like, like the action scenes and the score (John Williams is still awesome), but the most important part, the story, is a complete unknown. Because J.J. Abrams is directing it, I have hope. Not a whole lot, since I don’t want to be disappointed (and because it’s Disney), but I do have hope. Overall, I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic.

Those are my thoughts for now. Once I go see it, I’ll probably write a review. And now, I’ll leave you with this:BB-asketball

I’m sorry, that droid just really looks like a basketball to me.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review

I recently saw the third and final installment of the Hobbit trilogy. Well, that’s not entirely true. I saw the first two, and then the third. All in one day. I went to the Hobbit marathon on Monday the 15, two days before The Battle of the Five Armies was released for the rest of America. It took about 8.5 hours to watch all three movies, and I have to say, it was awesome. While I’m not a fan of all the changes that Peter Jackson has made, I still really enjoy the movies. I’ve given up hoping for them to be accurate to the book, and go into the theater simply looking for a good movie. That said, here’s the review.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

Battles aren’t what they used to be.
Now, they’re just a few airplanes dropping bombs here and there. Long ago in Middle-Earth, however, battles were the stuff of legend. Vast armies, with thousands upon thousands of foot soldiers, clashed together. Mutual obliteration is assured, of course.

And that’s essentially what this movie is about. The fighting. That giant dragon from the end of the last movie doesn’t play into the plot much. In fact, he’s killed in the introduction, before the subtitle comes up. Instead, the movie focuses on Erebor’s treasure, and the conflict it creates.

I’m not going to try to summarize the entire plot, because that would take too long. Suffice it to say that Thorin won’t share the treasure he’s gained, and the elves and lake-men are prepared to fight him for it. Meanwhile, in Dol Guldur, the Orc army under Azog and Bolg that we see in the second movie marches upon the Lonely Mountain. The dwarves, elves, and men, seeing the Orcs, attack them instead of each other. And the Battle of the Five Armies ensues.

So, things I liked about the movie:
1. Thorin’s treasure sickness. Peter Jackson really focuses on how consumed Thorin is, and some splendid acting by Richard Armitage really makes it stand out. This is such an important aspect of the plot, and it’s done very, very well.

2. Faithfulness to the book for some main aspects. All the characters who are supposed to die do die: Smaug, Thorin, Fili, and Kili. While I admit it was hard watching them get killed, I’m glad that PJ didn’t deviate in that major detail.

3. The visuals. All the visuals are absolutely spot-on. Erebor, the ruins of Dale, Laketown’s destruction, pretty much everything! The character and location design are wonderful. One thing is a little weird, though: Dain’s mohawk. It just seems a little out of place. Aside from that, though, all the design is fantastic.

4. The creature design. Some of the creatures are a little weird, but they’re mentioned in the books, so I’m OK with it. Like the half-trolls and the Were-worms. Those are actually mentioned in the books, so I think it’s kind of cool that PJ included them.

5. The Dol Guldur battle. That was just plain awesome. Saruman dished out some serious wraith-fighting. And it’s very book-accurate. Sure, it’s not in The Hobbit, but Tolkien does mention it in the appendices in ROTK.

And now for the things I didn’t like.

1. First and foremost, Tauriel and Kili. I can understand that PJ wanted to add some romance to the movie, but between an Elf and a Dwarf?! Really? Absolutely, completely ridiculous. At least one of ’em dies so we don’t have to watch them get married. Ugh. Oh, and did I mention that Tauriel isn’t even supposed to be in this story?

2. The title. It’s supposed to be just “The Battle of Five Armies.” No extra “the” necessary.

3. The stunts. I’m all for cool stunts and action moves, but in this movie, they seemed a little excessive. (I’m looking at you, Legolas!) And that entire battle on the fallen-tower-turned-bridge is just crazy. Completely against the laws of physics.

4. Azog. A character who should have only occurred in a minor flashback takes on a major role in this movie.

5. Smaug’s death. It happened too soon. In the first 20 minutes, he’s dead, and the plot moves on. Not to mention the way he was killed. Bard strings up his broken bow, sticks the ends into two pillars, and uses his son’s shoulder as an arrow-rest. First off, this wouldn’t have worked. The two ends of his bow couldn’t have been attached strong enough to withstand the tension from the bowstring. And the whole William Tell-like thing was supposed to be touching, but it came off a little cheesy, in my opinion.

6. Beorn. We don’t see nearly enough of him. In the book, he plays a key role, killing Bolg, rescuing Thorin, accompanying Bilbo home, etc. In this movie, we see him jump off an eagle and change to a bear in midair. That’s it. Maybe 15 seconds, little enough that it could be called a cameo.

7. It’s so bad that I’ll mention it a second time: Tauriel and Kili.

8. The violence. It’s a bit excessive. Do we really need to see all those Orc decapitations? Enough said.

Spoilers end here

Well, that’s about it. Despite all the things that I disliked, it was still a wonderful movie. And seeing all three at one time was an amazing experience that I really enjoyed. So now all the Middle-Earth movies are done, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. I’m a bit disappointed that the Hobbit movies are so inaccurate to the book, but still, they’re extremely good movies that I enjoy wholeheartedly.

Hobbit Teaser

San Diego Comic-Con has been going full swing since late last week, and lots of cool teasers, posters, and the like about upcoming movies have been released and leaked. The most notable (in my opinion): yesterday, the first trailer for the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was released. Technically, it’s not even a real trailer, but just a teaser. I don’t really care. This is the first official material released about the third Hobbit movie, and it looks awesome. Go on, watch it several times. You know you want to.

Why does December have to be so far away?