The Reel Filthy Movie News Roundup (13th April – 26th April)

words fae harry sambrook (@DriedCthulu)

Another week, another steaming handful of pop culture detritus. This week I’ll attempt to run through all the important stuff and why it will have a lasting impact in all of our lives forever. Remember to recite my opinions as your own so you can attempt to fill that empty void left by your meaningless relationships and lack of a personality (talking to you, Bobby).

Venom Trailer

Just as I had finished crafting this masterpiece of a report, Sony pictures decided to drop the Venom movie trailer, making me have to scrap my ramblings about the Deadpool trailer. Anyyyyyyyyway this trailer seems to show a lot more of the story elements of this film as well as a much awaited look at what Venom will look like. It’s still unclear about how much it will tie to the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe (my guess is, not at all) but it seems to be doing something interesting with itself despite Sony’s repeated attempts to beat this dead horse full of flies and used needles that is the expanded Spiderman universe.

One thing I have to say is that I cannot and will not believe that Tom Hardy is a news reporter. He looks like the doorman at my local dodgy nightclub, where they check you at the door for contraband. I mean, there’s a scene where he’s cornered in his flat by three or four generic looking disposable villains, and he looks like he could take them all out without the help of super powered space-liquorice. The terrifying presence of Tom Hardy aside, he is a good get and has a strange habit of making the most average of films actually good (e.g. Legend, 2015) and the venom voice and suit looking great and quite horrifying. This has actually made me excited for the film, despite the involvement of Sony.

James Cameron vs. Avengers

James Cameron recently had an interview with Indiewire in which he talked at length about his of the Avengers films and superhero films as well as his own upcoming Avatar sequels. His main point is that the avengers movies are just testosterone fuelled nonsense and that “there are other stories to tell”. Despite the fact that this is the man behind the Terminator films, which in my opinion are also testosterone fuelled nonsense, I can’t help but agree with him. Disney, our all-powerful overlords that govern our every film experience tend to take over the box office for periods of months and prevent other films from gaining any traction. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy these films as much as the next skrub but the current slate for the next few months includes Avengers: Infinity War, Solo: A Who Gives A Crap Story, The Incredibles 2, and Ant-Man & The Wasp. In my local cinema, independent films have only small chance of making any headlines when Avengers is showing 43 times a day for 2 months. Cameron then continues to talk about how his Avatar Sequels will follow a similar trend as the Godfather. Now a lot of people have taken that to mean he thinks they will be as good as the Godfather or it’s sequels but I think he just meant he wanted to emulate the generational aspect of these films in his sequels more than actually comparing them to some of the most highly regarded films of all time.

Fast and the Furious Netflix series

So this is unexpected. From the people that brought you Vin Diesel and his weird egg-shaped head and scowl combination that we know so well is teaming up with the studio that brought us such famed animated hits as Boss Baby: Back in Business and All Hail King Julian, comes a new Fast and the Furious animated TV show. And it’s coming to Netflix. This will be a short one as I care very little for the Fast and the Furious. In fact, I watched the 7th one on a plane in 2015 and had no idea what was happening I turned it off and watched Gone Girl instead. I can only imagine it’s the same as the last XXX film and that was balls and nonsense. Anyway, I’m sure this’ll be exciting for anyone who inexplicably likes this series.

Hot Summer Nights Trailer

Lastly we have a new trailer for the film Hot Summer Nights, starring Timothée Chalamet and Maika Monroe, release from A24. A24 is a smaller studio who has released an incredibly wide range of films, to varying degrees of success. Films I love such as Locke, Ex Machina, Room, Green Room, It Comes at Night, and The Lobster, as well as other films that I don’t like, such as Tusk and The Florida Project. Either way it can be said that they take risks and I am looking forward to seeing this latest release. Written and Directed by Elijah Bynum, it follows a coming of age story of a boy on holiday in Cape Cod. Although it seems like this is Bynum’s first film, I for one am looking forward to seeing what they’ll make out of this seemingly average story. I am definitely hoping for the weirdest shit possible. However, knowing the cinemas where I live, it’ll probably be a pushed out for a Star Wars anthology movie about the backstory of Princess Leia’s buns.

Well that’s it for this week for the news everyone. It was a joyous ride of ups and downs. Of stupid things being said and attempts at being funny. Thanks for reading. It should be said that these are the views of Sam from the Reel Filthy Podcast. The opinions don’t reflect Mac or anyone at Transistor. SO come at me Disney. Aye, that’ll do.

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Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

To say that Pixar have had an impact on cinema is to put it lightly. Throughout their entire history, the animation studio has suffered either by executive intrusion or financial issues but despite all this, they’ve somehow managed to not only survive but provide film enthusiasts with some of the best movies they’ve seen.

While not everything they touch turns to gold, it’s hard to deny the sheer passion, enthusiasm and heart that goes into every film they deliver and so, it’s our pleasure to (subjectively) rank the studio’s output from Worst to Best in the build up to the release of Cars 3 next month. 

With that in mind: sit back, crack open a cold one and try not to get too angry at us for the following choices.


17. Cars 2 (2011)

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What’s It About: In this sequel that precisely five people asked for, Cars 2 follows on from the original by travelling the world with Lightning McQueen as he tries to take part in the first ever World Grand Prix. Sadly, his friend Mator tags along and ends up…falling into the world of international espionage.

What Critics Thought: Cars 2 won’t win any new converts, but will sell an awful lot of car toys. – Catherine Bay (Film 4)

What We Thought: While I never loved it, Cars was at least a nice premise that channelled those underdog stories of the 80’s: Cars 2 goes into territory that would have been much better explored by an original IP. Sadly, we get the Jar Jar Binks of animation to take us into a world that could have been so interesting but, thanks to our “protagonist”, is shallow and void of that trademark Pixar flair. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

16. Finding Dory (2016)

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What’s It About: Revolving around themes of family and love, Finding Dory is a sequel to, you guessed it, Finding Nemo that follows the forgetful blue fish in her quest to find her parents.

What Critics Thought: There are large dollops of sentimentality and we all know just how the story is going to end, but there’s an enjoyably anarchic undertow to proceedings, not least when the fish commandeer a lorry and race the wrong way up a freeway. – Geoffry MacNab (The Independent)

What We Think: In what is now an inside joke between me and my partner, after watching Finding Dory I quipped that it got “3/5: Baby Dory was kinda cute, I guess”. In hindsight, I may have been too generous. While the film is beautiful and certain characters have such an adorable design to them, this isn’t enough to help a plot that makes you think that the creative team themselves are coming down with what Dory has. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

15. The Good Dinosaur (2015)

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What’s It About: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? That’s what Pixar’s 2015 flick asked as an Apatosaurus named Arlo leads the story and bumps into a new human friend.

What Critics Thought: As Pixar productions go, this one isn’t a ground-breaker, but it’s heartfelt and endearing, as well as visually splendorous, and kids will love it for sure. – Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal)

What We Think: The Good Dinosaur is a classic feel good film for me, and is extremely under looked in my opinion. It tells an amazing story, and I feel that all kids should have the chance to see it. – Gregor Farquharson (@gregoratlantic)

14. Monsters University (2013)

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What It’s About: A prequel to the Mike and Sully lead original, this films goes back to the duo’s university days before they were even friends. Monster’s University explores how the inseparable pair became so and how they managed to land themselves the job of a life-time.

What Critics Thought: It has enough of the right stuff to haunt the imagination long after the immediate buzz of its fluffy-furred cuteness has melted away. For a mere prequel, that’s a result. – Trever Johnston (Time Out)

What We Think: It’s not outstanding by any means but out of all the films that got sequels bar the Toy Story franchise, Monster’s University stands out as being one of the better ones. While it plays it relatively safe, the final third as well as the ending itself do enough to make it exciting and less predictable than many would have anticipated. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

13. Brave (2012)
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What It’s About: Merida is a skilled archer and daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. After making a wish to a witch, chaos ensues and Merida must do everything to restore peace to the kingdom.

What Critics Thought: By the climax, at which all right-thinking viewers will have dissolved in a puddle of warm appreciation, the new Pixar film has earned two cheers and a big bear hug. – Richard Corliss (Time Magazine)

What We Think: While a movie revolving around female empowerment is nothing new, one aimed at kids by the creative minds at Pixar definitely is. There may be a bit of Scottish bias going on here but the environments are just as breathtaking as they are in real life. On top of that, it’s great to finally a see a film where a Scottish person isn’t the butt of a joke. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

12. Toy Story 3 (2011)

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What It’s About: The third entry in the series, Toy Story 3 sees Woody and Buzz’s owner Andy head off to college, meaning that the toys are off to somewhere…unknown. Well, that place ends up being daycare, full of careless and sticky kids which ends up with the gang plotting a great escape.

What Critics Thought: It takes a kind of genius to combine a children’s movie for grown-ups and a grown-up’s movie for children in one glittering digimated package, yet the folks at Pixar have done it time and again. – Anthony Quinn (The Independent)

What We Think: It’s by no means a bad film but Toy Story 3 comes off as a bit…stale. Many of the plot elements, from the tension between the toys to the villain having a near beat for beat backstory, have been done before and better by the series itself though there’s no denying how bloody emotional this film makes everyone who watches it. –  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

11. A Bug’s Life (1998)

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What It’s About: A Bug’s life focuses on a colony of ants who seasonally gather food for themselves and a wild gang of rowdy grasshoppers. When our protagonist Flik destroys the food supply, the angry grasshoppers threaten to kill the ants if they don’t produce a new supply of food by the time they return — an impossible feat. Flik leaves the anthill in search of help in the form of bigger bugs, and to wage war against the grasshoppers – but ends up gathering a bunch of circus performers.

What Critics Thought: he colours are vivid, the detail incredible and the vocal performances, led by Foley, are fine. Happily, it works on both a child’s and adult’s level. – Film 4

What We Think: It may be a “kid’s film” but the topics A Bug’s Life subtly touches on helps it to be so much more than that. With one of the best Pixar villains, voiced by none other than Kevin Spacey himself, and a lovable cast of characters, it’s no surprise people call A Bug’s Life one of their favourites. –  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Nostalgic value pushes this film to my number 2 spot and I love the originality of it. As a kid I would watch this film on repeat. – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

10. Cars (2006)

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What It’s About: On his way to the big Piston Cup Championship, rookie race car Lightning McQueen finds himself in the town of Radiator Springs. As he meets the characters this place has to offer, he realises that there’s more to life than just trophies and materialistic things. 

What Critics Thought: Though the central idea of nostalgia for a quieter, small-town life may well be lost on this movie’s young audience — Cars finds a pleasant and often sparkling groove. – Moira McDonald (Seattle Times)

What We Think: An Owen Wilson voiced protagonist may sound initially irritating but Lightning McQueen may be one of Pixar’s better written characters, even if he’s in a film where 50% of the characters are either forgettable or irritating. Despite its horrible sequel, Cars deserves to be said in the same sentence with other iconic Pixar films. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

9. Inside Out (2015)

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What It’s About: Riley is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley’s emotions try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust.

What Critics Thought: The ordinary trauma of an 11-year-old girl coming to terms with a new life and school while losing all her old, comforting, childish certainties has become a glittering, bravura piece of cinema, a comedy both wise and tender. – Kate Muir (Times)

What We Think: Inside Out does what the best Pixar films do – it’ll have you laughing one minute, smiling the next, crying a wee while later and at some points, doing all at once. This was the film that helped to put to rest any doubts anyone had about the company after a less than stellar performance from the years prior – it’s safe to say we’re full of joy after it. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

8. Toy Story (1995)

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What It’s About: Woody , a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy , sees his position as Andy’s favourite toy jeopardised when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear action figure. Even worse, the arrogant Buzz thinks he’s a real spaceman on a mission to return to his home planet. When Andy’s family moves to a new house, Woody and Buzz must escape the clutches of maladjusted neighbour Sid Phillips and reunite with their boy.

What Critics Thought: So ingenious in concept, design and execution that you could watch it on a postage stamp-sized screen and still be engulfed by its charm. – Derek Adams (Time Out)

What We Think: While it may not have aged well animation wise, Toy Story’s sheer originality more than two decades later is undeniable. It laid the foundations from which Pixar would build their legacy on but putting that aside, it’s hard to deny the sheer love this film radiates. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

7. Ratatouille (2007)

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What It’s About: Remy, a resident of Paris, appreciates good food and has quite a sophisticated palate. He would love to become a chef so he can create and enjoy culinary masterpieces to his heart’s delight. The only problem is, Remy is a rat. When he winds up in the sewer beneath one of Paris’ finest restaurants, the rodent gourmet finds himself ideally placed to realise his dream.

What Critics Thought: A lot of animated movies have inspired sequels, notably Shrek, but Brad Bird’s Ratatouille is the first one that made me positively desire one. – Roger Ebert

What We Think: It’s always a damn hard choice to choose a favourite Pixar film but I have to give top choice to Ratatouille: it’s a lovable rat that cooks, its soundtrack is beautiful, and it’s incredibly clever for a kids film and evokes a fair amount of emotion! It does its job and entertains everyone – I will fight anyone who says they don’t like Ratatouille! – Fraser Nunn (@badknitbeard)

6. Finding Nemo (2003)

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What It’s About: Marlin , a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo , who has a foreshortened fin. When Nemo swims too close to the surface to prove himself, he is caught by a diver, and horrified Marlin must set out to find him. A blue reef fish named Dory — who has a really short memory — joins Marlin and complicates the encounters with sharks, jellyfish, and a host of ocean dangers. Meanwhile, Nemo plots his escape from a dentist’s fish tank.

What Critics Thought: Finding Nemo is distributed by Disney, and it has what the most heartfelt Disney animated features used to have: rapturous imagery matched with real wit. – Peter Rainer (Vulture)

What We Thought: The first film I ever saw in a cinema, so it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart. Aside from that, it’s a beautiful film that never fails to have me enthralled even after about 50 rewatches. – Rory McArthur (@rorymeep)

5. Up (2009)

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What It’s About: Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away to the South American wilderness. But curmudgeonly Carl’s worst nightmare comes true when he discovers a little boy named Russell is a stowaway aboard the balloon-powered house.

What Critics Thought: Funny and poignant and full of life, Up easily qualifies as one of the best movies of the year so far. Go with someone you care about. – Tom Charity (CNN)

What We Think: Gotta say Up is my favourite: the first 10 minutes are absolutely perfect, super lovely and heartbreaking, then the rest of it is a kinda odd couple adventure time. Just dead lovely and super simple. – Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)

4. Monsters Inc. (2001)

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What It’s About: Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan is one of its top scarers. Sullivan is a huge, intimidating monster with blue fur, large purple spots and horns. His scare assistant, best friend and roommate is Mike Wazowski , a green, opinionated, feisty little one-eyed monster. Visiting from the human world is Boo , a tiny girl who goes where no human has ever gone before.

What Critics Thought: It’s in the visuals that ‘Monsters Inc’ comes to life, from the jazzy, Norman McLaren influenced opening to the hilarious, shakycam amateur-dramatic recap over the closing credits. – Tom Huddleston (Time Out)

What We Think: Putting nostalgia aside, this was the first film I ever saw in a cinema after all, Monsters Inc to this day still stands the test of time: animation wise it stills looks gorgeous with Sully’s fur still looking frighteningly realistic and the story keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. The chemistry between characters is a real highlight, with the bond between Boo and Sully being an emotional forte. –  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

3. Toy Story 2 (1999)

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What It’s About: Woody is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin , leaving Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang to try to rescue him. But when Woody discovers that he’s actually a valuable collectible from a once-popular television show called “Woody’s Roundup” and is reunited with his horse Bullseye, Jessie the yodeling cowgirl and his faithful sidekick, Stinky Pete the Prospector, he doesn’t want to leave.

What Critics Thought: Toy Story 2 is a brilliant example of that rarest of Hollywood phenomena a sequel to a major hit film thats as good, if not better, than the original. – Paul Clinton (CNN)

What We Think: While a totally predictable top choice, the classics are classics for a reason. Everything about the original is amped up and improved upon, leading to the second best third act in any Pixar film behind The Incredibles. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Simply put, the height of animated film. A whip smart script, fantastic performances all round and a belter of a final third, one of the best films ever made full stop. – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

2. Wall-E (2008)

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What It’s About: WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. But during 700 years, WALL-E has developed a personality, and he’s more than a little lonely. Then he spots EVE , a sleek and shapely probe sent back to Earth on a scanning mission. Smitten WALL-E embarks on his greatest adventure yet when he follows EVE across the galaxy.

What Critics Thought: It indeed feels ‘new’, moving out of Pixar’s comfort zone while retaining the brand’s populist virtues: lovable characters, crafted jokes, aw-shucks niceness and wonderful images. – Andrew Osmond (Sight and Sound)

What We Think: I think I have to give it to Wall-E because of the unrivalled uniqueness of the film in Pixar’s repertoire. The apocalyptic Earth it creates is one of the most believable I’ve ever seen a movie. I think that really says something, seeing as it’s a cartoon. – Karsten Walker (@karseatheadrest)

I could list a whole array of favourite Pixar films but for me it has to be Wall-E: a masterpiece that would have surely swept all awards if it wasn’t a “kids film”, does what many films have tried to do in a much more simplistic and ultimately more believable approach with minimal dialogue creating something unique that will probably never be beaten in the animated genre. – Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Wall-E purely for the first 40 minutes of the film being almost entirely without dialogue yet still portraying the sweetest love story. Silent style harks back to their best shorts and is what makes Pixar so great. (UP was a close contender though ‘cos makes me have all the feels and anyone who claims they don’t cry in the first 10 minutes is a damn liar) – Michaela Barton (@lowkeypigeon)

1. The Incredibles (2004)

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What It’s About: Married superheroes Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are forced to assume mundane lives as Bob and Helen Parr after all super-powered activities have been banned by the government. While Mr. Incredible loves his wife and kids, he longs to return to a life of adventure, and he gets a chance when summoned to an island to battle an out-of-control robot. Soon, Mr. Incredible is in trouble, and it’s up to his family to save him.

What Critics Thought: A sharp, even amusing, homage to comic book lore, a great family-friendly action-comedy, and a thoughtful marital drama all wrapped up in a deliciously exciting package. – R.L Shaffer (IGN)

What We Think: Pixar have always lead the way and it really shows when one of the greatest superhero films to drop this century has been an animated one revolving around a family. It’s ambitious, heartwarming, adrenaline rushing gold that cemented Pixar as the all time greats for both myself and many others. While most of Pixar’s catalogue gets sequel after sequel, The Incredibles is the only film of theirs that doesn’t just need one: it deserves it.


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Rotten Retrospective: The Star Wars Prequels

It was bound to happen. After all, you can’t have a Star Wars week without talking about the most controversial entries in the franchise. Even the new director of the sci-fi epic J.J Abrams couldn’t go through an interview without being questioned about his opinion on them.

Of course, I’m talking about the prequels. Whilst any sort of art is subjective, it’s pretty much scripture that the films are awful additions to the Star Wars universe that fail to capture the same magic and appeal of the originals. You’ll have saw countless articles about why the prequels are so awful, Red Letter Media’s reviews are the most accurate of the lot, but what I’m going to do is try and balance it up: three things the prequels did wrong (easy task) and three things they did right (difficult task). Without further ado, let’s get started.

Anakin Skywalker Is An Awful Written, Cringe Inducing Emo 

I think I’m right in saying that everybody disliked the character of Anakin in the prequels. It’s very hard to defend someone who goes from whiny annoying fuck to heartless kid killer in the space of a few scenes and while this is a problem of mine, a lot of my problems with the prequels are linked to the man himself.

The Phantom Menace was definitely brought down by Anakin’s involvement in the narrative and it could have easily been avoided if he were a teen rather than an annoying child with the most cringe inducing dialogue possible. This quality of dialogue is consistent throughout Attack Of The Clones with the most excruciatingly bad romance I’ve seen since The Room and yes, I understand that this was necessary to make the events of Revenge Of The Sith more hard hitting but that’s the thing: they weren’t. This leads me onto my next negative but let’s calm down on the hate and move onto a positive…

Villains

When I gave myself the difficult duty of finding some positives in the prequels, I struggled. Big time. While I eventually got the other two, the first thing that came to my mind almost immediately was my appreciation for the villains.

Yes it does feel a bit weird to praise Lucas for once rather than scrutinise him and call him a husk but he was wise to introduce us to one of my favourite villains: Darth Maul. There’s just something so sinister about him and while as a kid I loved him just because of his double sided lightsaber, over time I’ve began to appreciate him even more especially with all the Expanded Universe material as well. While it was a massive mistake for him to be “killed off” in The Phantom Menace and not to have him a constant threat that would act as Obi Wan’s Vader throughout the prequel trilogy, it was still one of the few great glimpses.

Then there’s the obvious choice of Palpetine who, in my opinion, is the only character in the prequels who feels like he’s going through any sort of character development and whilst I feel his plan is a bit far fetched and is too convenient, I still enjoyed seeing it unravel. Then there’s General Grievous who, I don’t care what anyone says, is a great villain and if you have seen the Clone Wars micro series you’ll know why. His death in ROTS actually packs a bit of a punch with that prior knowledge. So yeah, well done Lucas, you might have done a lot of things wrong but your villains were at least great. Although the Siths were well portrayed, the Jedi on the other hand…

The Jedi Are Stupid, Dumb Fucks

Jedi: wise, powerful beings who are essentially defenders of the galaxy far, far away. So why did Lucas have to make them so fucking stupid? Don’t believe me? Here’s a short list of the absolute moronic decisions the Jedi Council made that inevitably lead to their demise in one way or another:

  • Allowing Jar Jar Binks to be part of the Galactic Senate when anything he did was by complete accident because he’s an absolute embarrassment who set black people in films back by 50 years. Also he pretty much results in the jedi becoming mince meat by the end of episode III
  • Confronting Palpetine with only three jedi when you’re almost convinced that he definitely has an army of troopers ready to kill your entire organisation with one order.
  • Making Obi Wan train Anakin when you know fine well that his high *sigh* midi-chlorian rate makes him one of the most powerful potential jedis there is as well as sensing he has a lot of emotional issues.

That’s just three of the many stupid decisions that make it even more difficult to like the prequels, knowing that the heroes you’re meant to root on are so naive and careless. In a series that built itself on the foundations of great characters both good and bad, it’s a shame to see the prequels fail to do either.

The Music Is As Amazing As Ever

Liam Neeson, Ray Park and Ewan McGregor in 'The Phantom Menace'

If there’s one thing that even haters of Star Wars can admit, it’s that John William’s score for the films are impeccable. The main theme that opens every film as the text scrawls down the screen is arguably the most iconic piece of movie music ever.

So when it comes to what the Prequels actually did better than the Originals, it’s not the lightsaber duels: it’s the score. Duel Of The Fates accompanied the best fight in the prequels and is synonymous with the franchise: hum the tune to anyone and they’ll tell you it’s from Star Wars. Not to mention the other classic numbers like Anakin’s Betrayal have managed to escape the critical bashing of the prequels to stand out as some of the best in the series. At least if the on screen acting blinds you, there’s still a treat for your ears with the soundtrack.

Overuse Of CGI

Star Wars: The Changes - Part One

While this is my final negative point, there’s a hell of a lot of bad things regarding the prequels that I’ve failed to mention: the space politics that will bore adults to death and lead kids to focus on their toys, JAR JAR FUCKING BINKS, racial stereotypes, no friendship between Anakin and Obi Wan, the list is near enough endless.

So why is overuse of CGI a bad thing? Surely CGI allows film-makers to create grand spectacles that previously couldn’t be done before. You’d be right to say that and I’d agree with you. The thing is though that most directors don’t see CGI in that way: they see it as a way of excusing lazy stories and uninteresting characters with big set pieces and fancy looking settings. Don’t believe me? Let’s ask the man himself George Lucas.

“Special effects are just a tool: a means of telling a story. People have a tendency to confuse them as an ins themselves. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”

I don’t think I need to say anything more about this but what I will say is that J.J Abrams move away from relying on CGI gives me hope for The Force Awakens and from what I’ve heard it’s definitely paid off. If only Lucas listened to one of the few smart things he’s actually said.

Pod Racing

It really says a lot about this trilogy when one of the few saving graces comes in the form of an event that has little to do with the story. However, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy the pod racing as a kid and even as an adult I still find it insanely cool.

Not only did it look great, and somehow still looks alright by today standards, but it’s one of the few actually character developments you seen in Anakin. Here’s a character who for his whole life has lived as a slave yet is now given this freedom, limited yes, and his passion as well as his natural skill as a pilot allows him to win. While I may sound like an idiot trying to create some sort of progression there, this scene is still a treat and as an extra bonus, has a minimum amount of Jar Jar Binks as possible. Perfect.

So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you thought of the prequels down below in the comment section. Tomorrow’s post is my collaborative Best of 2015 with a great number of talented writers so look out for that!

Big love, Liam x

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5 Things I Want From The Force Awakens

Since the very first teaser trailer, even since the rumours themselves started circulating, I’ve been waiting in anticipation for Episode VII. Why not? Star Wars is one of my favourite movie series of all time, from when I was a young up till now where age has only made me love the films more.

With the premiere of the latest entry taking place last night, social media was greeted with a surprisingly positive reception from those who attended.

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All of this has definitely calmed my nerves down a bit though bare in mind we heard the exact same reception from critics about another film: The Phantom Menace. With the general public still having to wait till Thursday to see The Force Awakens, I’ve decided to list what I want from the most anticipated film of the decade. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below. Anyway, let’s get started.

1. Less Choreograph Heavy Duels

First things first: yes, the prequels looked cool, slick and every positive adjective in the dictionary. The problem with them though was that despite how extravagant and visually glorious they looked, they left me quite unsatisfied: they looked great but where was the emotional aftermath?

There was the death of Ben Kenobi in A New Hope that despite not being much of a fight had an impact on the audience and the characters. Yes, you could argue that Revenge Of The Sith’s finale between Anakin and Obi Wan was great but it’s hard to find yourself being invested in a 10 minute + fight when you care very little for either character in contrast to Darth Vader and Luke.

I’m not saying I don’t want any exciting fights, not at all. Maybe it’s more of a personal thing but when I was a child, having pretend duels was the most fun ever which was mostly down to the fact that it was so much like the originals. Maybe complaining about fights in a film set in space with alien races is a bit ridiculous but instead of incredibly looking fights, let’s have some more emotion heavy confrontation. What we’ve seen between Kylo Ren and Finn in the trailer looks promising so here’s hoping it’s an improvement.

TLDR: Less choreography in battles, more focus on the emotions the combatants actions represent like Return Of The Jedi with Vader and Luke.

2. Strong, Clear Lead

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If you’ve ever watched the Red Letter Media reviews of the Star Wars prequels then you’ll know that the major criticism they have is to do with the series having an unclear protagonist. While many say it’s Anakin, if he were the protagonist he’d have the proper development and whilst Obi Wan is in for a shout, he never feels like he’s at the focus for a lot of the films as well as being a sub par written character, only saved by the great acting of Ewan McGregor.

Unsurprisingly I wasn’t at the premiere last night so I’m just as oblivious as you reading this but with this new set of characters coming along, I think what this new trilogy (or expanded universe) needs is a clear cut protagonist: Rey.

Yes, John Boyega is the one who is holding the lightsaber on the poster but the way I see it, or rather predicting it, is that Finn will be more of a Han Solo type of character: someone with a dodgy past where he’ll spend his time trying to redeem himself and become a better person by the end of his journey. Rey on the other hand is our Luke as far as I’m concerned and it’s great to see that director J.J Abrams called Daisley Ridly out on her “wooden acting” as soon as possible so that we don’t get a repeat of Hayden Christensen. Time will only tell how this will play out.

TLDR: Rey should be the clear cut protagonist like Luke from the originals.

3. Leave Interactions With Old Characters To Minimum

Now don’t get me wrong, I love all the characters from the original trilogy (aside from the ewoks). I cannot wait to lose my shit whenever I see Han and Leia on screen after decades have passed since the events of Return Of The Jedi. I cannot wait to see Han also being the bad-ass rogue with faithful furry friend Chewie by his side. And when Luke shows up (which I’m expecting the final shot of the movie to be), the whole cinema will scream with excitement.

I don’t want too much of a good thing though and it’s a new trilogy after all: I want to grow as attached to Poe, Rey, Finn as I did with all the other characters from the original trilogy. If this new batch of films is going to redeem the series then it needs to keep its focus on the present and keep the glimpses to the past at a minimum.

TLDR: More focus on new characters, not ones from original trilogy. 

4. Don’t Underutilise The First Order

If you read my friend Sean’s recent blog post about why you should be excited about Episode VII (which you can read here), you’ll see how he pointed out the importance of the Dark Side in the previous films. After all, your movie’s characters are only as good as your villain and not many films can claim to have an amazing set of both.

This time around we’ve got The First Order which can be described simply as a Darth Vader Fan Club(!) In all seriousness, this new threat to the galaxy seems just as threatening as the Palpetine lead force from A New Hope up till the inevitable collapse in Return of The Jedi. This is what brings me to my next point: solidify this threat.

We had Vader, Boba Fett, Palpetine and more last time around and from what I know, we’ve got a great array of characters who are in control and taking part in this Galactic Empire 2.0: Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). If J.J Abrams can provide some great new heroes then surely he can do the same with our villains.

TLDR: Give us villains as threatening as the Empire and as developed as our heroes. 

5. A Fresh New Look At A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Let’s be honest: as much as we all say that certain characters are our favourite thing in the Star Wars universe, we all know that it’s the universe itself that’s the greatest thing about the franchise.

From the icy, beautifully snow covered planet of Hoth where we witness a heavy defeat of the Rebel Alliance to the planet of Endor, dense with wildlife and luscious trees everywhere, the planets are pretty much characters themselves. We love them and it’s not just them that make the universe so incredible as on top of that, we’ve got the hundreds upon hundreds of different races that make the galaxy so very varied.

We already know we’ll be seeing Jakku, a planet that is yet to make an appearance in any other film so far as well as locations like Maz Kanata’s Castle which is what Mos Eisley Cantina is to A New Hope. I’m already excited as can be about The Force Awakens and for good reason too, I can only hope that all these hopes I have are fully realised when The Force Awakens hits screens this Thursday.

Big love, Liam x

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