Documentary Review: Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (2014)

Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Directed by: Brian Stillman
Written by: Brian Stillman
Music by: Chris Ianuzzi
Cast: various

X-Ray Films, 70 Minutes

Review:

Plastic Galaxy is a documentary about the people who have a bit of an obsession with collecting Star Wars toys. It mainly focuses on the original line of toys from the original trilogy of movies and it also goes into their history and development.

I was initially excited to check this out back when it was a new film. However, it’s kind of light, if I’m being honest and suffers from some clunky editing, too much reliance on talking head interviews and, at times, being a bit overly dramatic.

That being said, I think that the Star Wars episode of Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us is a much better watch and a more professional production.

Still, this was neat to revisit and it’s engaging enough. But the 70 minute running time seems scant and I feel like this really needed to delve into the history more and provide more backstory.

All in all, this is okay but it could’ve been a lot better than what it was.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries on toys, video games, table top gaming, collecting and specific niche fandoms.

Comic Review: Star Wars: Legacy – Book II

Published: January 8th, 2015 (Marvel reprint)
Written by: Jan Duursema, John Ostrander
Art by: Jan Duursema, Kajo Baldisimo, Omar Francia, Alan Robinson, Adam Hughes (cover)
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 417 Pages

Review:

After being pretty drawn into the first large collection in the Star Wars: Legacy comic book series, I didn’t want to waste too much time before getting to the second of the three volumes.

This one is nearly as good. However, it jumps around a lot to tell different stories with some characters we haven’t met yet. Most of these side stories were there to lay the groundwork for the overall, bigger arc.

For the most part, I enjoyed these side plots even though I wanted to get back to Cade Skywalker and his friends, as well as seeing where Darth Krayt was after his first big encounter with Cade.

The biggest things that happen in this volume is that there is a legit power struggle on the Sith side of the coin, while on the Jedi side, Cade has to evolve and conquer his personal demons in an effort to allow the light to wash away the dark. He’s not quite there yet but things in his life continue to push him towards the destiny he keeps trying to deny.

This volume also develops all of the main and secondary characters much more, as by this point, the series had gotten through what I would call its first act with this being the second.

This sets up everything for the final third of the larger story and it really keeps the momentum going, as we know shit will most assuredly hit the fan in the final volume.

Overall, this was solid and kept me invested in the series. Now there’s only one more book to go.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other Star Wars comics of the Legacy era, as well as the stuff originally published by Dark Horse.

Comic Review: Star Wars: Legacy – Book I

Published: January 8th, 2015 (Marvel reprint)
Written by: Jan Duursema, John Ostrander
Art by: Adam Dekraker, Jan Duursema, Travel Foreman, Colin Wilson, Adam Hughes (cover)
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 473 Pages

Review:

I was in on this series from the day it was originally released. I was buying all the Star Wars comics series by Dark Horse at the time and this, along with Knights of the Old Republic, were solid additions to my pull list. From that mid-to-late ’00s era, these comics kept me interested in the Star Wars franchise, even though it seemed like there would be no more movies, as George Lucas seemed like he was shifting into retirement mode.

Having re-read this for the first time in well over a decade, I’m happy to say that it’s held up exceptionally well. Hell, it’s much better than the version of Star Wars that Disney has been spoon-feeding us since they bought the IP in 2012.

What stands out the most with this series is the writing. It’s just so good. Also, within a short time, you feel like you know these characters. Plus, once they’re established, this doesn’t waste any time in getting right into the thick of it.

This is action packed and the characters, especially the Sith, are really damn cool looking. I also like that the main Sith Lord, Darth Krayt, is a character that reaches all the way back into the prequel era.

Even though this takes place over a hundred years into the future beyond The Return of the Jedi, it still features characters like Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade in the form of Force ghosts trying to inspire this series’ reluctant hero into embracing his destiny as a Skywalker.

I like that Cade Skywalker, the main character, is sort of an amalgamation of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo but that he is also a heavy drug user, as he wants to suppress the Force and hide from who he is supposed to be.

Legacy has a darker edge to it than any other Star Wars comic series. I think that it actually adds to the sense of the dread that everyone in the galaxy should be feeling in this time period.

The galaxy is splintered and everything is in flux, making the future pretty damn uncertain and also solidifying the fact that even though the Empire fell a century earlier, life doesn’t just have a happy ending. There are still things that the survivors and heroes will always have to fight for.

I can’t wait to read the other two beefy volumes in this series.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other Star Wars comics of the Legacy era, as well as the stuff originally published by Dark Horse.

Film Review: THX 1138 – Director’s Cut (1971)

Also known as: THX-1138 (alternative spelling)
Release Date: March 11th, 1971
Directed by: George Lucas
Written by: George Lucas, Walter Murch
Based on: Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB by George Lucas
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Cast: Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Don Pedro Colley, Maggie McOmie, Ian Wolfe, Sid Haig

American Zoetrope, Warner Bros., 86 Minutes, 88 Minutes (Director’s Cut), 81 Minutes (1971 Studio Theatrical Cut)

Review:

“Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And be happy.” – OMM

I had to review the Director’s Cut edition of THX 1138, which is unfortunately the only version the world has access to anymore. It’s similar to the original Star Wars trilogy after George Lucas altered those films. Frankly, I’d rather see and review this film in its original form but I don’t have this on a VHS tape from the ’80s or a working VCR.

For the most part, this film isn’t altered too greatly and the bits that have been updated are obvious due to them employing modern CGI, which sticks out like a sore thumb. But I can’t really examine the skill of George Lucas’ special effects prowess because those things have been wiped clean and replaced with modern tweaks.

Anyway, this is obviously inspired by some of the most famous dystopian novels and motion picture adaptations. However, even if it dips into Brave New World, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, it still has it’s own identity and look. Frankly, despite heavy narrative similarities to what it was inspired by, this is still a unique and really cool film.

Being George Lucas’ first feature length movie, it’s damn impressive. This is also why I’d rather see it in its original form and not altered for modern eyes.

The film also benefits from the performances by its core cast members. While Robert Duvall is stellar in this, he’s backed up by Maggie McOmie’s memorable performance, as well as the always enjoyable Donald Pleasence.

Additionally, it’s impressive how much Lucas was able to achieve with so little. The sets are very minimalistic but nothing about this picture feels cheap. The world feels real, authentic and lived in, even with its generic, sterile, hospital hallways looking appearance.

I like this motion picture quite a bit and I always have. Seeing it in HD is pretty glorious but I still wish I had the ability to see it as it was original seen.

Lastly, this film features one of the coolest cars in motion picture history, which is featured in the big chase scene at the film’s climax.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other dystopian science fiction films of the late ’60s through the ’80s.

Vids I Dig 363: Whang!: Was ‘Indiana Jones’ Changed After Release? – Lost Media

Taken from Justin Whang’s YouTube description: The ending of Indiana Jones: The Kingdom of the Crystal skull is different from how people remember it. Many recall Indy saying “In Your Dreams Kid”as he takes his hat back from Shia Labeouf’s character, Mutt, but the line is not there. Is this a case of the Mandela effect, or was it edited quickly after release?

Comic Review: The Star Wars

Published: 2013-2014
Written by: J. W. Rinzler
Art by: Rainier Beredo, Michael Heisler, Mike Mayhew, Nick Runge
Based on: George Lucas’ rough draft of the original Star Wars screenplay

Marvel Comics, 218 Pages

Review:

I always wanted to read George Lucas’ original rough draft of the script that eventually became Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. But this is even better than reading the script, as it provides visuals, inspired by the original Ralph McQuarrie concepts for Star Wars.

Additionally, since I’m a pretty hardcore comic book reader, I thought that I’d really like experiencing this early version of Lucas’ vision more than just reading the text. Frankly, it’s a great homage to that screenplay and McQuarrie’s art.

In the end though, the final movie is a much better version of Lucas’ vision. This was still really enjoyable, however, and I really dug it and it probably would’ve made for a solid sci-fi B-movie in the late ’70s, where those things may have been a dime a dozen but they were still pretty cool and a lot of fun. Well, many of them were, anyway.

What’s really cool about this is seeing how a lot of Lucas’ concepts weren’t that fleshed out. Some characters evolved into others, some were completely omitted and the scope of this story feels and looks much larger than what the budget would have allowed.

This isn’t great, though. It’s fun, it’s energetic and I liked the core characters but it lacks the heart and spirit that made A New Hope an instant classic that birthed one of the largest franchises of all-time.

I wouldn’t recommend this to casual fans but it is worth checking out if you’re a lifelong Star Wars fan. It’s kind of weird in spots and I had to keep reminding myself that the rules weren’t established yet.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Expanded Universe comics within the Star Wars universe.

Film Review: Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Release Date: December 16th, 2019 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Chris Terrio, J.J. Abrams, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Based on: characters by George Lucas
Music by: John Williams
Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Harrison Ford (uncredited), Billie Lourd, Greg Grunberg, Dominic Monaghan, Warwick Davis, Denis Lawson, Jeff Garlin, Kevin Smith, James Earl Jones (vocal cameo), Andy Serkis (vocal cameo), Ewan McGregor (vocal cameo), Alec Guinness (vocal cameo), Hayden Christensen (vocal cameo), Ashley Eckstein (vocal cameo), Freddie Prinze Jr. (vocal cameo), Olivia d’Abo (vocal cameo), Frank Oz (vocal cameo), Liam Neeson (vocal cameo), Jennifer Hale (vocal cameo), Samuel L. Jackson (vocal cameo), Angelique Perrin (vocal cameo)

Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Bad Robot, 142 Minutes

Review:

*There be spoilers here!

“We had each other. That’s how we won.” – Lando Calrissian

Congratulations, Disney and Lucasfilm. You finally broke me to the point that I didn’t have the urge to see a Star Wars movie in the theater. Nope, I waited on this one because the previous few movies left such a bad taste in my mouth that I didn’t want to sit in a crowded theater with a bunch of normies clapping like seals every time there was a weak attempt at a cameo or minor victory. Also, people have been ruining the theater experience for awhile, so this film had that working against it already.

Now I figured I’d go see it once the buzz calmed down and the theaters cleared out a few weeks later but even then, it just wasn’t worth the trip or the money for me to make the effort.

Well, I finally watched it now that it’s available to rent and because this COVID-19 bullshit has us all trapped in our houses with nothing to do.

Anyway, as much as I anticipated not liking this, it was the best film of the three from the Disney produced Sequel Trilogy. Some of the more angry fans out there may think that’s crazy of me to say but I respect the effort of J.J. Abrams trying to fix the abortion that Rian Johnson created with The Last Jedi, especially with the weak skill set that Abrams has.

Honestly, they should have called this Star Wars: Episode IX – MacGuffins and Mystery Boxes but I guess that would require Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Bob Iger, Disney and Lucasfilm to actually understand humility and that they aren’t the great storytellers that they think they are.

Now this movie had a lot of weird shit that made certain sequences hard to get through. If I’m being honest, there aren’t really any sequences that didn’t have issues. I’ll list out some of my gripes from memory at the end of the main part of this review, as I did for some of my other Disney Star Wars reviews.

If I’m going to talk about what I liked about this film, I guess it’s that it tried really hard to give good fan service. Not so much, soulless, cheap attempts at winning me back but more like an admission that the series fucked up with the previous Rian Johnson stinker and that Abrams felt sorry and embarrassed that his larger vision for this trilogy was skull fucked in the eye by Johnson.

Rian Johnson cared more about his own ego and career than being the trusted custodian of something much larger than himself, which was created by others who were a lot more talented than he will ever be. If that’s harsh, I don’t care. Johnson didn’t care about the responsibility he signed up for, so he can deal with the repercussions of that from the fans who felt betrayed by his piss pigeon performance.

I’m glad that J.J. Abrams kicked Johnson in the nuts though. And his disdain for Johnson’s wreckage was made abundantly clear in the short scene where Luke returns, stops Rey from throwing her lightsaber away and states, “I was wrong.” Then he goes on to tell her what we all needed him to tell her in the previous film. For Luke Skywalker and Mark Hamill’s sake, I’m glad that the character didn’t go out like a weak piece of shit and was somewhat salvaged.

While on the subject of Rey, though, I still don’t understand how she is just simply the best at everything. She has an insanely weak character arc, hasn’t had anywhere near the level of adversity that Luke and Anakin had and you barely see her train at all and then she can barely deal with a fucking tiny laser drone. It’s like these modern filmmakers don’t think beyond what looks cool on the screen in a shot.

Anyway, this movie is a mess, narratively speaking. It’s really two movies wedged into one, as Abrams had to try and course correct while also coming up with a satisfying ending. That being said, he does okay in trying to achieve this but maybe this should have been longer or released as two parts. But I guess he is stuck with the numbering system and being tight within the framework of a trilogy.

Unfortunately, while we do get to see the main three characters spend some time together, it is hard to buy into their bond, as they spent the first two movies apart. I want to believe in it and I actually like the actors but this is something that needed to be done in every film. This is why people love the trinity of Luke, Leia and Han so much. But for whatever reason, Abrams, Kennedy and Iger don’t understand what worked about previous Star Wars films.

As much as my brain was picking things apart, I still found this to be the most palatable of the Disney Saga films. It’s hard to peg why but I think that Abrams genuinely wanted this to make up for the damage that’s been done and he did put his heart into it. But that also doesn’t mean that he was the right guy for the job way back when they announced him for The Force Awakens. He wasn’t and I had reservations about it back then.

In the end, I don’t know if I’ll ever watch any of these films again. If I do, it won’t be for a very long time. Maybe they’ll work better as a larger body of work but I doubt it with Rian Johnson’s big lame turd sitting smack in the middle of it. Honestly, it’s like a cat jumped on the table, took a shit in the middle of a mediocre pizza and you just decided to eat around it.

Assorted notes and gripes:

Watching the film, I was bombarded with a lot of WTF moments, these are the ones I remember. Maybe I should’ve taken notes.

-The opening crawl, immediately revealing Palpatine’s “resurrection” was cringe and the worst written opening crawl in the franchise.

-Who the fuck is manning all of Palpatine’s Star Destroyers?

-Why would the Star Destroyers break through thick ice to reveal themselves? There are hundreds of them and this seems like it would cause a lot of damage? And they’re already on a very hidden planet to begin with.

-Since Palpatine’s appearance isn’t explained but cloning is implied, am I just to assume that there’s only one Palpatine and not like 364?

-Lightspeed skipping? Really? And they land safely within a different planet’s atmosphere with every skip? Really? I’m no astrophysicist but I’d assume a planet’s atmosphere is a small percentage of a planet’s total structure and that planets themselves take up an insanely small amount of actual space in the universe, as a whole.

-“Hey Rose… you coming on the mission?” “Nah… I’m good, bro!”

-The group goes to outer space Burning Man… really?

-Don’t get me started on the jetpack trooper scene. That’s a clusterfuck of cringe and stupidity.

-I’m alright with the healing power but shouldn’t it drain Rey, even just a little bit. I mean, it fucking kills Kylo like two hours later.

-The Rey v. Kylo’s TIE Fighter scene was absolutely, unequivocally stupid. Just crush that shit with the Force, hoe!

-I guess Abrams views Droids as abused house pets.

-Gurl 1: “Not that you care but I think you’re okay.” Gurl 2: “I care.” Girl power! No lesbian kiss.

-So did C-3PO have red LED lights installed this whole time? Where were they when he was attempting to murder Jedi in Attack of the Clones?

-Rey doesn’t feel Chewie “die” on a ship that’s right in front of her. But then Rey feels that Chewie is alive when he’s much further away.

-Where’s Phasma? Is she really dead now? I thought she was Star Wars‘ version of Kenny from South Park.

-Are the Knights of Ren just laser sword thugs who don’t actually answer to Kylo Ren? Sith in training? Palpatine super soldiers? What the fuck are they?

-How does a billion year-old dagger line up with the wreckage of a Death Star that was built well after the dagger. And how was Rey lined up at the right angle and altitude to make it work? This was just a ripoff of the medallion from The Goonies and it was just stupid.

-I’ve lost count of the number of MacGuffins. I think there were five… maybe six? Is this a G.I. Joe miniseries from 1983? Nah… those were much better written.

-Weak as fuck lightsaber duels. Maybe the weakest in the entire franchise.

-Did Leia die because she called out to Kylo or was that just a perfect timing plot convenience?

-Harrison Ford? Why?

-Luke in 30 seconds was the Luke I wanted in the previous movie.

-Rey in a tiny X-Wing had to navigate through tight, dangerous, moving space corridors to reach the Palpatine planet but the Rebels’ big ass warships simply followed her path? It’s space, can’t they fly around that shit? What about the massive fucking armada of “regular people” that just shows up conveniently to win the war?

-Also, a militia of citizens overthrows a corrupt government by force. When did Hollywood become so blatantly pro-Second Amendment? I kid, Hollywood is just stupid.

-When they’re riding horses on the deck of a Star Destroyer, why doesn’t the ship just turn fucking sideways? It would’ve ended the war. One simple maneuver.

-The teleporting physical objects Force power is another lame plot convenience.

-What’s this random fucking Force Dyad thing? Abrams still thinks he’s making up stories with his toys in the bathtub.

-If Palpatine created Anakin and Anakin created Luke and Leia and Leia created Kylo Ren, all the while Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter, isn’t their attraction kinda incest-y?

-I’d watch a Lando & Chewie in the Falcon movie.

-Why bury the lightsabers? A safe would be more secure.

-Why even take the Skywalker name and why did it take her so long to say it? Maybe because a part of her knew it was wrong to just take their name, their personal shit and Luke’s childhood home. Bitch, you ain’t in the will, that shit all goes to the state!

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the other Disney era Star Wars movies.