The Golden Run Is Over: Solo Is Disney’s First Star Wars Dud

words fae olivia armstrong (@starcadet96)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is yet another side story in the Star Wars franchise after the success of Rouge One. However, this time it tells the story of fan favourite and fanboy self-insert of the franchise: Han Solo. Despite obviously making the money that Disney needed it to, there seemed to be a distinct lack of hype and epic scale of the release of this film, which is strange considering who it’s about. Even the marketing seems downplayed by Disney standards and it seems to be banking on its connection to the franchise to pull through. So the question is posed: is there any good here? Does it need to exist? How does it rank against the franchises other installments?

For as much as the complaints regarding the lack of need for a Han Solo movie, there is a fair amount of good choices to be found. For example, Donald Glover is a fantastic choice for Lando Calrissian and he deserves at least double the screen time that he has. His charisma oozes through the frame in every scene he’s in and it’s only once he appears that the story begins to pick up. The whole first act of the film really begins to drag but once he shows up, the new team finally begins to do what they set out to after failing the first time. He also has a droid co-pilot (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) who is also a fun character, being a snarky, rebellious activist for equal rights for droids and most of her comedy comes from her snark with the other characters instead of being a joke herself like most of the other droids. Woody Harrelson is also a fun as Han Solo’s mentor/partner, although I always wonder if seeing him in these movies comes from a determination for him to be in every single sci-fi franchise war film ever.

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There is a fair amount of good wholesome fun, particularly in the last third with betrayals, backstabbing, double-crossing and character motivations changing and revealing new things. For example, Han’s relationship with his girlfriend throughout the film is rife with back-and-forth of what will come of it (as we all know from the future films that the relationship is doomed). There’s a surprise cameo from an unexpected iconic villain and the ending is one of the few parts to actually have some weight. However, most of this film is extremely light on story and character and while it is showing the past of Ham Solo, it does so in a way that doesn’t tell us a lot more about him and unfortunately a lot of that comes from the central performance. There are also points where the story drags and almost loses focus and it becomes a chore to sit through, even in parts that should be exciting. Even as a smaller story, the plot is so thin that what should be exciting, fun action becomes frustrating when they can’t just get from point A to point B already.

Sadly, Alden Ehrenreich in the titular role feels just miscast here. Despite clearly trying his best, he just doesn’t capture the attitude of Harrison Ford’s iconic portrayal of Han as being both the cool guy and a complete disaster who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. The understanding is that this portrayal of Han is as a more wide-eyed, excitable young thief before he became so jaded in A New Hope but even that feels distinctly off in this performance.

It’s not entirely his fault; some of the dialogue comes from writers desperately trying to capture what they think Harrison Ford would have said but Ehrenreich’s performance doesn’t enhance any of the material. Whatever interpretation of the character they’re going for, it just feels unconvincing and almost constantly reminds you that you’re watching an actor and not a character.

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Despite the moments mentioned earlier, the biggest downfall of Solo: A Star Wars Story is how completely inconsequential it is as a film and not just as a Star Wars film. While the “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” title card is shown, we get no iconic Star Wars text scrawl explaining the setting and building the hype. Instead, we get a few screenshots of exposition and then the film just starts. It almost feels like an admission from the creators that they know you don’t really need to watch this. And that’s the biggest tragedy of the film; for all it’s fun and occasional tense moments, there’s absolutely no grand scale to the presentation. Rogue One, for all its faults, took its smaller story and gave some weight to the build-up of what was to come in in the later films and did have some incredibly memorable moments (especially the scene with Darth Vadar). Star Wars, even when it’s bad or divisive, is almost always memorable and the biggest tragedy of Solo is how much it doesn’t square up to that.

The bland moments don’t come close to the enjoyably bad cringe-fest of Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones while the fun moments still can’t compete with the fun and excitement of defeating the empire in Return of the Jedi. On top of that, there’s absolutely no risk factor in the decision making and it’s as safe as film-making can possibly get. Say what you want about The Last Jedi (that request is rhetorical; I’ve heard far too damn much about what people have to say about The Last Jedi) but it and The Empire Strikes back took some of the most daring risks in the franchise and succeeded in fuelling fan discussions for years. There’s so little of the spirit and mythology of Star Wars in Solo that it feels like any sci-fi space universe (the Force isn’t even mentioned a single time).

So, where does that leave Solo: A Star Wars Story?

I’d say only see if you’re a die-hard Stars Wars fan or if you or your kids just want a cute space adventure that doesn’t require too much thinking. Aside from that though, I sadly can’t say this instalment of the franchise will leave its mark on the galaxy.

Best of 2015

2015 has been one of the most eventful years in recent history. A year just as full of tragedy  as it was brimming with joyous occasions that put a smile on our faces.

An annual event since 2013 when I made my first compilation of best albums, here’s another Best Of from us here at blinkclyro.com. As always, we have another great cast of talented writers who have helped with this list of sorts with more contributors than ever. I’ll be giving my favourite of each respective category at the end of the month because my real aim in all of this isn’t to further inflate my already tiny ego: it’s to be a platform for opinions and that’s what will be on show today. Don’t agree with any of them? Then leave your rage induced comment down below.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.

Film

If 2014 didn’t please you enough, 2015 had the return of not one but two gigantic series: Mad Max and Star Wars, both of which have been critically lauded. With this in mind, let’s see what entertained us most on the big screen.

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Ryan Connolly (@RyanC826)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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You may think this choice comes from either fanboyism or nostalgia, and while both of those things are true, after one showing I can say that the Force Awakens is better than all of the prequels combined.

The plot is very reminiscent and will feel familiar to fans of the original Star Wars, but with that said the power of this film to play on the hearts of fans cannot be underestimated. To be back in the universe that I love is such a great feeling. JJ has achieved what he set out to do, with use of practical effects and shooting on location, everything is real! From the sweat on Finn’s face on Jakku to the bitter cold of the Starkiller base. The Force has awakened. Have you felt it?

Sicario

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What can be said about Sicario that has not already been said? it’s a great exploration of both suspenseful filmmaking and unexpected character development that twists and turns at every chance it gets. Emily Blunt, an FBI agent is thrown into the deep end of the Cartel infested pool of Juarez Mexico. Alongside a CIA spook played brilliantly by the overbearing and charismatic Benecio Del Toro, Blunt finds the lines of morality blurred as a shooting at the Mexico/US border leaves her startled and losing a grip on her own sense of purpose and life. Film of the year so far, presented brilliantly by Denis Villenevue.

Mad Max: Fury Road

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This summer’s blockbuster season was ‘mediocre’ in the words of Fury Road’s main antagonist, Immortan Joe. At least Mad Max redeems it somewhat. Fury Road is almost a documentary on how create a world with only a camera and practical effects. Through visionary George Miller’s keen eye for detail, what he creates is an adrenaline fuelled punch to the senses and then a hefty dose of nitrous oxide to our bodies. With real vehicles pushed to almost 200mph and a hell of a lot of stunt actors jumping across the chase vehicles rode by our main protagonists played by Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, Fury Road is one hell of a motherf****** ride.

Straight Outta Compton

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I don’t think anyone expected this. Not even me. Straight Outta Compton is the story behind some of the past centuries’ greatest hip-hop artists including: Dr.Dre, Ice Cube, Tupac and Eazy-E. The story of why these Niggas With Attitude became so famous is one that will definitely pull your heartstrings right out of your chest. Come to think of it now, I don’t think there has been another film this year that has moved me the way this film did. The struggle of a movement, powered through music and brutal words that speak of a reality known to many back in the 80’s, Straight Outta Compton is a must see for everyone. Emphasis on Must see.

The Martian

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From book to film, it’s another one of these adaptations. Only this one is superbly done, like really well done! Of course, one expects nothing less from Ridley Scott, even if he has been letting himself down lately (I won’t even go into his Prometheus shenanigans) The Martian throws Matt Damon onto our red neighbouring planet as a stranded astronaut who must survive for over 300 days on a planet that doesn’t support life. Now this sounds like another gritty Gravity type scenario, but it’s far from. While it’s visually just as beautiful, it takes the more light hearted route and gives us a feel good space film, distancing itself from both the past two years massive budget sci-fi films. The Martian is definitely a beautiful and just god damn fun film to watch. So go watch!

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Elle Wrightston (@c0mmonweather)

6 Years

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6 years is a powerful film from 2015, starring the likes of Taissa Farmiga, better known for her role in American Horror Story and Ben Rosenfield. The story follows a couple who hold a ‘perfect’ and idyllic relationship. Their love seems to hold no ends while they engage in ‘typical’ teenage life; parties, friendships and careers. Director, Hannah Fidell, really leaves you feeling like this is what you want in your own life.

Yet as the plot unravels we view their relationship to turn sour and, more importantly, violent. New sides of the characters are evident as their conflictions tear their relationship apart, until eventually they break up.

Ultimately, 6 years, leaves the viewer understanding that violence can be present in any relationship, at any point, while personally feeling the loss and pain that the characters suffered, as simultaneously their relationship and who they are unravelled.

Absolutely Anything

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Absolutely Anything was an easy choice for me, despite the bad reviews it received that made me neglect watching it until only weeks ago. It’s a typical film starring Simon Pegg – funny, touching (in a strange way), but it leaves you wanting more and wondering ‘what if that was me’. The plot follows a school teacher, whose life seems to be going not so well, until aliens provide him with powers to do anything.

We see he struggles to comprehend this initially, which portrays how differently his life is under this influence, including his romantic interests and work relationships. His now talking dog was a favourite of mine, bringing a whole new life to the wonder of what pets actually think.

Absolutely Anything is a feel good film that will definitely get you laughing.

Paper Towns

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Paper Towns was an eagerly awaited film of 2015 due to being based upon John Green’s book of the same title. John Green also wrote ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ which was also adapted into a film the previous year.

Director, Jake Schreier, creates a moving yet powerful film that explores the mysteries of people and life in general, as we follow the adventures that emerge when childhood friends, Quentin and Margo, are reunited. The inherently young adult nature of the film provokes a definite sense of growing up, (and ultimately moving on). Yet it shows you to make the most of what you have as we see Quentin’s character evolve with confidence and happiness. Ultimately, Paper Towns leaves you feeling nostalgic, and sad in a strange ‘did I do enough’ way, yet it is equally beautiful in the characters present and the way it appears upon screen.

Music

In a year that saw the rise of grime, a barrage of AAA rock releases and a terrorist attack at a gig (the heart of the art), here’s the best albums 2015 had to offer.

 

Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

 

5. Bring Me The Horizon – That’s the Spirit

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I don’t know how this happened. BMTH are a band I thought i’d grown out of, but here they are in 2015, dragging me back. This record is an absolute slobberknocker. 11 songs of sheer melodic metal mastery. Frontman Oli Sykes and the boys have been noticeably improving with each album they’ve released since 2006’s ‘Count Your Blessings’, and this is the album where their talents are truly realised.

In my humble opinion, this is the years essential metal album. Cracking stuff.

4. The Cribs – For All My Sisters

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Ah, The Cribs. Anyone who knows me knows that my love for the Jarman brothers and their musical output knows no bounds, and this album does not disappoint. Recorded with The Cars Ric Ocasek, this is by far The Cribs poppiest album, filled to the brim with fantastic melodies (see album opener Finally Free, what a bloody chorus). However, the guitar work on this album shines brightest for me. Some of the riffs on this thing are sublime (That’s not to say Gary and Ross aren’t exceptional, however.)

In short, for all my sisters is the Cribs at their best: heavy, poppy, brilliant.

3. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

What a fucking album this is. For those out of the know, Sleaford Mods are a two piece, politically charged post-punk band from Nottingham, England. Members Jordan Williamson and Andrew Fearn are angry. Very angry. Attacking a variety of well deserving targets (Tories to people being cunts at their gigs), the boys desecrate their chosen victims with scathing aplomb. The most surprising thing about this album, for me, is just how funny it is. Williamson’s wit really shines on Key Markets (“You live in Carlton you twat, you’re not Snake fucking Plissken”).

But it’s not all fun and games with Sleaford Mods, and that’s maybe what I like about them. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they’d never let you think that. Slaves who?

2. Foals – What Went Down

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What Went Down is the result of a band realising their full potential. This is Foals magnum opus, an absolute joy of a record. One thing I’ve always admired about Foals is their ability to go from skullfuckingly heavy (What Went Down) to utterly, utterly gorgeous (London Thunder) on the same album. It sounds like two different bands at the same time as it sounds distinctly Foals.

They’re dancey, they’re powerful, they’re beautiful, they’re Foals. And, simply put, they’re one of the best bands on the planet.

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

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It couldn’t be anything else, could it? Leagues above anything else released this year, TPAB is quite simply one of the best albums of all time. There really isn’t much I can say about this album that hasn’t been said countless times by countless other journalists. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe what Kendrick managed to create with this album.

Tackling his inner demons head on, the songs truly seem to serve as a release for Lamar, he bares his very soul on some tracks on here (particularly “U”, “The Blacker the Berry” and the ending speech from lead single “i”). To Pimp a Butterfly is as funny as it is politically minded. Lamar really has struck a perfect balance between #Banger and social consciousness.

If, for any reason you haven’t listened to this album. I heartily advise you do so. I can almost guarantee you’ll love it.

~

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Tom Fraser (@crimeturtle)

 

Wavves and Cloud Nothings- No Life for Me

I guess it’s technically an EP and not an album but I’ll include it anyway because I march to the beat of my own decisions, as they say. Wavves have always been one of those airy-fairy-here-we-go-touch-the-surf-man kind of bands for me but with the addition, and dare I say guidance, of Cloud Nothings something magical happens- like when someone actually touches the surf, man. The title track is a stand out with a ridiculous amount of drive and energy from the very start. It blends the two bands’ sounds like a lovely audio cake mix, ready to be put in the oven at gas mark fun.

The closing track “Nothing Hurts” takes a more sombre approach leaving behind the drum heavy sound of the rest of the EP in favour of jangly guitars and a warm layer of synth which is uncharacteristically evocative for a song that doesn’t even last 2 minutes (which is the amount of time it’s supposed to take you to brush your teeth but who does that? Am I right?).

Trust Fund- Seems Unfair

It’s quite hard to write about this one to be honest. Seems Unfair only came out at the end of October but I’ve already killed it for myself by having it on repeat for the last few weeks. I guess this is a testament to the album in a way- there was nothing else I wanted to listen to when I knew that I could be treating my ears to this gem. This is the second Trust Fund album of the year and the progression is pretty apparent: The drum sound is noticeably better, the songs are, at times, a little darker and the tone of the album as a whole is a bit more coherent. I know it’s a cliché but it sounds like the band has grown up a lot since February. I bloody love it.

(Side note- I missed Trust Fund supporting Speedy Ortiz earlier in the year but I caught Ellis after the gig and promised to bake them a loaf of bread for the next time they play in Glasgow. I’m a man of my word and now a man of yeast and flour).

 

Sufjan Stevens- Carrie and Lowell

Lots of people weren’t all that keen on Age of Adz (2010) because it was such a departure from Stevens’ usual laid back, haunting style. This album sees a return to the utterly-melancholic following the death of Sufjan’s mother some years back. This tragic stimulus inspired some of his most beautiful songs to date as the album veers from heart wrenching (Blue Bucket of Gold) to lilting/terrifying (Fourth of July) and back again with the grace of seven swans (see what I did there? I don’t know if it counts as a joke but it’s a reference at the very least). It’s definitely not one to listen to alone on your birthday in a dark room round the back of the butchers.

I promise this didn’t happen to me, but if it had happened my reviews would be written in shit on a wall because of the immense emotional vulnerability that I’d be overcome with. Once again, this didn’t happen to me. It didn’t. I’m fine. Just let it go.

Honourable mention: Built To Spill- Untethered Moon

THIS BAND IS STILL WRITING GREAT MUSIC HOW DO THEY DO IT.

~

Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

 

 

1 – Motӧrhead – Bad Magic

Forty years. That’s how long Lemmy & friends have been plugging it in, turning it up, and playing it loud. Recent health scares have caused the big man to discard his trademark diet of whiskey and speed, but couldn’t water down the sonic force that is Motӧrhead. This year saw the release of Bad Magic, the 22nd studio offering from the band, but still as raw as the eponymous debut album in 1977. Before you’ve even sat down to experience another rock ‘n’ roll punch to the face, Lemmy’s scream of ‘Victory or Die’, followed by a shock & awe aural assault.


The most notable highlight of a solid a 22nd album that any band could offer is the slowed down, lighters up, tears in your eyes ‘Til the End’, the most emotional Motӧrhead track ever penned, and one of the diamonds on the album. There’s nothing more to be said for a band, and more specifically a man, that is a true blue rock and roll star. Not a stereotype, not a poser, just a man who plays it loud, blows your eardrums out, and steals your girlfriend. God bless Lemmy Kilmister.

2 – Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep

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They just can’t make a bad album, can old Shikari. Their youthful aggression has been channelled into a sonic rebellion, and 2015’s The Mindsweep was no stranger to the danger we all face. If nothing else, Rou and the gang are hardwired into the dire state of affairs this world is in.

In a rallying cry to dispel hate & care for your fellow human, ‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep I’ starts off a frank & noisy tour through the current state of affairs, screaming at the idea of privatised healthcare in ‘Anaesthetist’, refusing to be beaten in ‘The Last Garrison’, talking about the emperor & the arctic fox, and more seriously, the perils of global in ‘Myopia’, the absolutely thrashing fistfight that is ‘There’s A Price on Your Head’, and the only track that’s made me cry repeatedly this year, ‘Dear Future Historians’, which is probably one of the best tracks Shikari have ever put out. Also tipping my fedora to the iTunes bonus track ‘Slipshod’ & the video for offering a bit of comedy on an album that could be a political manifesto for one of the good parties.

Referencing only a few tracks on this album hasn’t done the album justice, because the whole album is a finely-crafted masterpiece, so do yourself a favour and get mindswept.

(Honourable mention for the Hospitalised version of this record)

3 – Broken Hands – Turbulence

CURVEBALL TIME. This was literally a fatal four-way between Foals, BMTH, Muse & these guys for my final album of the year, but the scrappy underdog just powerbombed those behemoths through the canvas. If you’ve heard of Broken Hands, you’ll be smugly pursing your lips, nodding in agreeance that Broken Hands are probably the most exciting band you’ve never listened to. Below will be a brief overview of their album, but don’t worry about that, just grab a copy of Turbulence & crack on. Doing a concept album is brave. Doing a concept album as your debut album is exceedingly brave, but what’s fear to Broken Hands, they’ve supported the Rolling Stones! They’re influenced by Hawkwind! WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS?

The album references flight & planes throughout, with the first track ‘Spectrum’ kicks off with ‘There’s a jet engine in my head’, and we’ve all felt like that in some way shape or form. We then journey into the bouncy little jam they call ‘Meteor’, a slowed down singalong for ‘Impact’, which I’d gladly slowdance at my wedding to, another moody tome in the form of ‘747’ where the sustaining voice of Dale Norton prays for doom, death and destruction to come soon and keeps erm, sustaining (honestly he can hold a note longer than Arsene Wenger can hold a job. Really nice guy too, had a chat with all of them and they’re a great bunch of lads, even if they were terrible musicians you’d want them to do well because they’re nice guys).

The fact that in my twisted worldview, their debut is enough to trump some of modern rock’s biggest heavyweights, take influence from some of the rock and roll gods including Hawkwind, Sabbath and Motӧrhead and turn it into an experience, and that says a lot about their future.

Beth Ellis (@0mgbeth)

 

3. Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon

Typically lugubrious though Ultraviolence was, Del Rey truly bought her A-game back with her third album in three years. Where Ultraviolence fell down with its tendency for bland album tracks, Honeymoon was full of heart-wrenching and nostalgic tunes such as The Blackest Day, Salvatore and the Bond theme-esque 24.

It’s Elizabeth Grant doing what she does best: pining about drug lords and establishing her iron-clad aesthetic as the all-American girl stuck in the wrong era. Beautiful,elegiac and razor-edged.

2. Peace – Happy People

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The Birmingham quartet have firmly established themselves as major players on the indie music scene. Happy People, their second album, sees them continue with their breezy, catchy brand of indie pop. Gems include the radio-friendly Lost on Me and Money, in which satire is made of the modern day careerist mindset: ‘You’re going to be happy, you’re going to be rich.’

The light-heartedness of Harrison Koisser and co. make them a refreshing change from some of the more glum faced present day rock bands, and this album shows their potential as a crowd-pleasing headliner.

1. Grimes – Art Angels

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The second female artist on this list with a kooky alias, Grimes somehow managed to outdo Visions, the demonic album that your religious aunt would probably frown upon, and one that took her from underground to mainstream with its heavy beats and otherworldly music videos. The long awaited Art Angels is Visions with added sweetness and a pair of fangs: it is Claire Boucher, established and unafraid of mixing the feminine with the fierce.

Instead of deep voice distortions we have tinny electronic instrumentals and girlish Taiwanese rap, and it somehow all works perfectly.

TV

Television was once seen as the inferior alternative when compared to movies: now TV gives the cinema experience a run for its money with some brilliantly made shows gracing our screens. Was 2015 any different? Let’s find out.

 

William Hardie

William Hardie (@netflixandwill)

 

I’m a student; a university student, to be exact, and if there’s one thing that my £9,000 a year education (bloody Tories) has taught me so far, it’s that there’s a hell of a lot of TV waiting to be watched when I have essays that need doing. With that said, it’s time to dive in to my retrospective on the top five TV shows of 2015.

 

#5 Louie (Season 5)

Even in its fifth season, when the majority of sitcoms begin to run out of steam, Louie only gets better. More comedic than the fourth, the fifth season proves that there is still endless comic potential in a show about a sad, white father (it’s funny, trust me).

 

#4 Empire (Seasons 1 and 2)

The numbers don’t lie; Empire is the first series in at least 23 years to gain viewers each week for its first five episodes. A gritty, dramatic soap opera for the 2010s, it’s caught fire extremely quickly, and it’s easy to see why; Taraji P. Henson’s iconic turn as Cookie Lyon has cemented her position as one of the most talented actresses right now. 50 Cent might think there’s “too much gay stuff” (really, Fiddy?) but the rest of us can’t get enough.

#3 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fills the 30 Rock-sized hole in my heart, in a very good way; the dizzying, interlocking jokes have Tina Fey’s wonderful fingerprints all over them. It’s a blindingly funny tale of a girl finding her way in New York after spending the majority of her life in an underground Doomsday cult, but for my money, it’s the flawless Titus Andromedon that steals the show. Trust me, you’ll have Pinot Noir in your head for weeks, and you’ll soon be counting down the days until the next season is available for streaming (Spring 2016, folks)

#2 BoJack Horseman (Season 2)

The second season of BoJack Horseman, another golden dingleberry from the gloriously clean Netflix Original butthole, is dark, layered, and hilarious. It’s the type of show that rewards the viewer for watching; its fast, densely-packed dialogue reveals more and more upon each subsequent watch, and every episode guarantees you a startling cocktail of belly laughter and deeply emotional introspection. It’s odd to think that in 2015, the TV show that provides the most accurate portrayal of mental health issues is an animated sitcom about a talking horse played by Will Arnett, but that’s where we are right now, and I love it.

#1 Master of None (Season 1)

Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix sitcom has it all: pasta, relationships, pasta, informed feminist rhetoric, pasta, Eric Wareheim, and pasta. The dude loves pasta. He tackles important subjects such as interracial dating, sexual harassment, racism in the media, and most importantly, how to get the best tacos in New York City. Most of all, however, Master of None is fucking real; Aziz approaches problem subjects like racism and sexism and handles them with a refreshing openness and honesty that’s unlike anything on network television, while not straying into preachy territory. Aziz changed the god-damn game with this one.

Sean Donohoe (@silentb0b_)

 

It’s been over a year since the beginning of the television spin-off to the Coen brothers’ cult film Fargo and as its second season comes to an end, Lorne Malvo and Lester Nygaard are names of the past. Many were anxious that the second season in Noah Hawley’s darkly comical anthology would not live up to the first due to it’s new cast and storyline set almost thirty years before the first. However, those worries were put to rest within the first couple of episodes as Fargo season two has proven to be one of the best shows on television this winter.

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This time the story follows a young Lou Salverson (Patrick Wilson) in 1979 as he is caught up in the struggle between the menacing Gerhardt clan and the Kansas City Mob. Wilson is not alone in this all star ensemble however as he is joined by the likes of Kirsten Dunst and Ted Danson who along with the rest of the cast, thoroughly display their talent throughout. Bruce Campbell also pops up to do his best Ronald Regan in the season’s fifth episode.

Once again writer Noah Hawley gives us an enticing and entertaining story from start to finish with his clever dialogue and colourful characters. From the paranoia between accidental murderers Peggy and Ed Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons respectively) to the insidious journey of the hired hand, Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) there is plenty going on throughout, but it all comes together in the thrilling penultimate episode. There’s also a subplot involving UFO’s but let’s not get into that right now. The Coens themselves are only executive producers on the show but fear not Coen fans as there are multiple references to their films throughout (most notably through the choice of music used this season).

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Along with the stellar acting and cleverly woven script the show is also visually appealing, once again filmed in the beautiful Calgary, Alberta. The snow-covered landscapes and coniferous forests contrast with the violent events that develop around them.

One worry many people (including myself) was that nobody could top Billy Bob Thornton’s performance as Lorne Malvo last season. While this is arguable, there are several characters who definitely come close, most notably the previously mentioned Hanzee and the silver-tongued Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine). These two characters contrast each other, the former being silent and reserved while the other is talkative and extravagant, although they rarely ever interact they certainly make just as good villains as Malvo in the previous season. There are other memorable roles such as Campbell’s Ronald Regan and the always entertaining Nick Offerman as the paranoid Karl Weathers, a character reminiscent of Walter Sobchack from another Coen brother’s film, The Big Lebowski.

The final episode of this season may come across as underwhelming to some, most characters are essentially where they were at the beginning, but that’s most likely why it’s titled Pallindrome. It wraps up some things but also leaves a lot of loose ends that leave viewers thinking, maybe Hawley will give us some closure if a third season happens but as The Soprano’s once proved, sometimes less is more.

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Definitely living up to it’s previous season and opening multiple doors for a third, the second season of Fargo has been one of the highlights of television in 2015. Noah Hawley once again creates a variety of colourful and contrasting characters that he uses to weave his darkly comical crime story against the snowy Minnesota backdrop. Those who loved season one will love this one just the same despite the absence of fan favourite Billy Bob Thornton, they may even love it more.

It has some minor issues such as certain characters and plots being underdeveloped but all in all, Fargo season two is a unique and entertaining experience which has been a pleasure to watch from start to finish.

Big love, Liam x

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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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Ranked: The Star Wars Saga

Undoubtedly the most iconic film series of all time, Star Wars has made a colossal impact not only on entertainment but on the world. With a universe packed with lore, action and amazing characters, the series managed to become a sci-fi epic of massive proportions that is still yet to be beaten in terms of how iconic it is and how successful it has been, only rivalled by the likes of Harry Potter. 

I’ve grew up with the series so I’ve got a strong attachment to George Lucas’ masterpiece, meaning that I’m one of the many who booked tickets to see The Force Awakens this week. In celebration of this, I’ve decided to spend the week building up to it, covering a wide range of topics as well as a review of Episode VII this Friday. To get things started though, it’s time to separate the Jedi from the Sith and find out which entry comes out top. 

Here’s the Star Wars saga ranked.

6. Attack of The Clones (2002)

Looking back at the trailer of Attack Of The Clones, it’s not surprising that many got excited to see the film regardless of how abhorrent the previous entry to the series was (don’t worry, we’ll get to that soon enough).

Just look at it. The battles, the sense that Anakin was going to go through this thing that George Lucas was oblivious to called “character development” as well as a collection of other entertaining scenes like we had witnessed from previous Star Wars film. Also JANGO FUCKING FETT.

“There’s no way it could possible be worse than the previous entry” was the mentality that dominated fan’s minds yet what we got was something so jarring that I’ve tried my best to forget about it. 

Instead what we got was a plot dominated by a non nonsensical romance by the awfully acted Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman while the only vaguely interesting storyline regarding Palpetine was underutilised and forgotten like…well the Star Wars prequels. The romance itself totally ruins the film because we’re given no reason to care about a little whiny emo and a woman with the personality of a plank of wood.

I’m not saying that romance shouldn’t be allowed in the Star Wars universe. Just look at Han and Leia, a chemistry that didn’t ever feel like it was unnatural or going too fast. It felt like a genuine connection and you couldn’t deny that whereas with Anakin and Padame, it just feels like a plot device to simply explain how Luke came about and nothing else.

And the dialogue. Oh god the dialogue.

“I hate sand. It’s rough and it’s irritating and it gets everywhere.”

 “I wish that I could just wish away my feelings, but I can’t.”

  “I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me.”

The tagline for this movie read “A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love.” In this case, a Jedi shall only know how to tarnish the reputation of an entire series.

5. The Phantom Menace (1999)

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this infamous film?

I could tell you that it was the worst mistake Lucas could have ever made to not only start filming The Phantom Menace after ONE DRAFT. I could tell you that there was no heart put in the film, instead primarily about the money (Lucas himself only ever worried about not grossing more than Titanic). I could tell you that the characters in this film, especially Liam Neeson who signed up without even reading the script, are all unbelievably stupid and/or dumb. It was a mass amalgamation of terrible decisions and stupid ideas that ultimately made this film so terrible, forever existing as a “fuck you” to fans who waited years for this. 

And then there’s him. I don’t want to talk about him. It just makes me feel physical-

OH GOD, NO, FUCK, NO, I’M GONNA FUCKING PUK-

Let’s not dwell too much on Jar Jar though (another post for another day). In fact there are some *shock* good things about this movie like the pod racing which was the best thing about this film back when I was younger though that doesn’t make these films any better since I also thought sticking Lego up my nose was a good idea back then. Then there’s Darth Maul who to this day I think is an amazing villain who was so under utilised that it’s a sin.

At the end of the day, Phantom Menace’s sins far outweigh any minuscule positives it may have. Avoid it like the plague.

4. Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

When your film is described as the best of the bunch, you’d consider it an achievement, something to be truly proud of. The thing with Revenge Of The Sith is that it was taking part in a prequel derby where the two other horses had no jockey and a brain cell between them.

Now to call the Revenge Of The Sith bad would be harsh but it’s certainly not good. Not only does it nearly ruin Yoda’s entire character but Anakin is yet again treated awfully, especially in the final 10 minutes where he goes from a sulky, angst ridden man to a child killing monster like from 0-100. Real quick.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have any positives. Palpetine in my opinion was the only character treated appropriately and whilst I wasn’t surprised at all that he turned out to be evil, it felt like a natural development. The man who started off with a taste of power in The Phantom Menace manipulated others to get what he wanted, treating others like pawns which really shows that he is the most evil character in the series. Darth Vader is just another notch on the dark side’s bedpost which makes the originals somehow better with this knowledge.

Everyone seems to defend this film for being the best of the prequels when actuality, it is just as bad as the others. The saving grace of the film isn’t the final duel, which has nearly zero significance seeing as we care very little about both characters, but the transformation of Palpetine into one of the most diabolic enemies in cinematic history.

Watch with caution.

3. Return Of The Jedi (1983)

Concluding the Star Wars trilogy was never going to be easy. Following the critical success of the previous films, everyone was well aware that Lucas and co. could screw this up. The threequel is undoubtedly the most difficult movie to pull off yet somehow ROTJ was an amazing way to say goodbye to the series at the time.

First things first, let’s get the gripes out of the way with. Yes, the ewoks are annoying as shit and were Lucas’ first step into appealing far too much to kids with the introduction of bland characters that would ultimately lead to you-know-who. Also, a death-star? Again? 

There’s some jaw dropping amazing action set pieces, especially the Sarlacc battle sequence that still stands out as one of my all time favourites where Luke shows how much he has progressed as not only a jedi but as a person, no longer showing any glimpses of the shy, naive boy from Episode IV. Then there’s the speed bike chase on Endor as well as the final battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker which I cannot put into words. The moment where Luke snaps and just goes crazy with his lightsaber is both cool yet frightening, very subtle symbolism. 

At the end of it all, we get a ending that is a stark contrast to what we got in previous entries but one that is still enjoyable, if still a bit sad due to the fates of certain characters. All in all, a more than satisfying end to one of the greatest trilogies of all time.

2. A New Hope (1977)

I’ll try my best to not ramble on about this film too much. After all, it’s my first Star Wars film I watched and one of the first I can remember ever watching on VHS. Countless times I’d rewind the tape with a pencil so I could re-watch it all because both at a young age and even now, I’m yet to experience a film that’s drawn me in so well.

Just that opening scene of Darth Vader storming a rebel ship gives me chills with that iconic James Earl Jones voice that manages to convey the evil behind the mask so well. Not to mention how taken aback I was to see the space ships that even more than 20 years after they were made still amazed  little four year old me.

Not only do we get an excellent villain, we get introduced to a great pack of heroes to root on. We have a clear protagonist in Luke Skywalker, a naive and inexperienced boy who has no idea what’s in store for him. Then there’s Obi Wan, a legend who after the events of the prequels we assume just went into hiding (though there is cannon lore that explains what happened) and informs Luke of his abilities. Finally there’s the greatest character in the series Han Solo and his trusty, furry buddy Chewbacca who are the bad assess of the film, undeniably slick and make the film what it is essentially: a tale about redemption.

Choosing A New Hope in certain places stands up with the rest on a visual and storytelling level especially when you consider the absolute shambles that was the development, it’s a surprise that this film from little known Lucas would become arguably the most important movie of all time.

It was a film full of action, emotion and most importantly, heart. Unsurprisingly, this is the best starting point for any new fan.

1. Empire Strikes Back.

This is it. The movie every sequel aspires to be. A film so iconic that many other sequels that take note of the grand improvement of this follow up to A New Hope are often called the Empire Strikes Back of their respective series.

Empire Strikes Back is the absolute pinnacle of the series without a shadow of a doubt, a movie that actually makes you feel the despair and hopelessness of the rebel alliance as they try and do their best to defend themselves from the imperial forces. While A New Hope was a film, unsurprisingly, full of optimism while hinting of the danger of Vader and his force, Empire Strikes Back is the full realisation of this, being significantly more bleak than any other Star Wars film.

This new feeling of helplessness never lets up, from having to cut open a dead tauntaun to survive to the betrayal of Han Solo by Lando to Luke still failing to defeat Vader after excruciating training from Yoda. As a kid, it was unusual and rare to see a film have such a depressing ending and because the idea of a sequel was foreign to me at the time, I was under the impression that it was all done. That moment of realisation will always stick with me as one of the most important times of my life regarding film.

There’s nothing I can say about Empire Strikes Back other than the fact that it’s one of the best films in cinematic history. When all is said and done, this entry is what made the series the absolute marvel that it is and explains why we all eagerly anticipate The Force Awakens. We want another film that has us on the edge of our seats. We want another film that has us invested in the story and characters. We want another Empire Strikes Back.

Will we get it? Who knows.

Big love, Liam x

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Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens final trailer review

I feel like a spoilt child at the moment, like it’s Christmas came early. Last week there was the release of the Star Wars Battlefront Beta, which you can read my thoughts about over here (unsubtle beg), which for a lot of people had them reliving the PS2 days of fighting on Hoth with their pals until the early hours of the morning. Then 2 days ago we got this amazing poster that was meant to tantalise our sci-fi tastebuds until last night.

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“But what happened last night” you most likely won’t ask. This happened.

Released in the early hours of the morning for us over here in Britain, the trailer didn’t exactly make a Beyonce style entrance by coming out of nowhere. In fact, it was quite the opposite as the trailer itself had two teaser trailers to promote it, sort of like how Deadpool did it *cough* which you can read my thoughts about over here *cough* though what else do you expect from one of the highest grossing film series of all time. Even if you don’t like Star Wars, it’s become a staple of pop culture and many scenes and characters have been inscribed in our heads, fact this is.

Which is why I’ve unashamedly watched the trailer a total of five times already and no doubt I’ll watch it another fifty times before the film releases on December 18th. I, like many other people my age and older, have grown up with the series, watching them on loop whether it be on VHS or the countless repeats on ITV2.

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So if you couldn’t tell already, I loved the new trailer and I’m more than aboard the hype train, something I told myself I wouldn’t do due to the sour taste the prequels left in my mouth. The fact that the movie isn’t out for another two months is probably the only problem I have with it (that and the absence of Luke), even then I doubt I’ll get to see it as soon as it is out anyway with how fast tickets sold out for its first day of release.

Letting J.J Abrams take the helm of the project was probably the best decision Disney have made since greenlighting a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel as the Star Wars universe has never looked so damn good. Even the shortest scenes like the brief dogfight featuring the millennium falcon had me amazed as well as engrossed, something that the prequels failed to do. With his success rebooting Star Trek as well his work on Mission Impossible and Lost, I’m more confident than ever that he’ll be able to balance the story and set pieces that made the original trilogy such a classic.

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One of the main problems with the prequels was how terrible the characters were, not wanting to name names but a certain Jamaican talking, rabbit looking thing lives in infamy as being one of the worst things since bubonic plague. Right maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement but with an unclear protagonist in The Phantom Menace, forced vomit inducing romance in The Clone Wars and a moody emo Anakin for Revenge Of The Sith, it was very difficult to like any of the characters.

With the glimpse we’ve had of The Force Awakens, we’ve got a set of new faces as well as old. We have Finn (John Boyega) who plays a Stormtrooper that, from what I know, witnesses something that results in him leaving The First Order, leaving him alone and confused which is something that viewers can relate to as they return to a universe that has changed since we last saw it 30 years ago. Speaking of First Order, there’s Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who leads this new empire in order to, as he tells the decimated helmet of Darth Vader, “finish what you started”. (Bonus points to you if you spotted the symbolism!)

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Last but not least, we have Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger who a lot of fans suspect has some link to Kylo Ren. Despite this, it seems like she’ll be a welcome change to the tired damsel in distress trope that both men and women are growing sick of. With Han Solo himself showing up alongside Chewie and Leia, the trailer was not only a welcome introduction to what we can expect from this new trilogy, it was a trailer made for the fans.

Will Episode VII be any good? Who knows. We all got ourselves way too excited about The Phantom Menace and look what happened there. However, from what we know and from what we’ve seen, things are looking far more positive. If the final film can evoke the same emotions the same way the trailer made me feel when Finn and Kylo Ren drew their lightsabers to fight, then The Force Awakens will be a worthy addition to the Star Wars franchise.

So what are your thoughts about the Star Wars trailer? Excited? Dissapointed? What’s your favourite moment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below since I’d love to see what you thought of it. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying.

Star Wars Battlefront Beta impressions 

In news that will surprise no one, I love Star Wars. Ever since I was a youngster, lying on the couch watching the original trilogy on VHS, I’ve always had an attatchemnt to George Lucas’ epic saga.

That’s what made purchasing the original Star Wars: Battlefront games on PS2 so easy. You have the rebels fighting the imperials but unlike the movies, you’re not just witnessing it from the perspective of Luke or Solo: you’re on the battlefield, dodging projectiles and all sorts. Many hours were spent playing Galatic Conquest, which no doubt led to the premature death of my trusty PS2, and although the games haven’t aged all that well, it still holds a special place in my heart.


The series then went into hiding for almost a decade and when developers Lucasarts were closed down following Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and, in turn, Star Wars itself. We all thought this meant that Battlefront 3, which had been in development for years after the 2005 release of its predecessor, was all but gone.

Then it happened. The teaser trailer in 2013. The subsequent reveal trailer in 2014 and all the gameplay that followed. There was Hoth, there was AT-ATs, there was John Williams’ iconic score. There was all of this and more that made Star Wars fans everywhere have to pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming.


So this is what made downloading the Beta last week a no brainer and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. The beta definitely wasn’t without fault and maybe I’m best addressing the elephant(or AT-AT) in the room: Walker Assault on Hoth.

Before I go into criticising the mode, let’s give a brief description on what you actually do. In the 40-player Walker Assault mode, the Rebel side tries to destroy two Empire AT-ATs by securing outposts to call in Y-wing bombers. Empire forces, meanwhile, try to keep the Rebels from activating the command posts. All sounds fairly fun on paper but if you play it for even a few minutes, the cracks begin to show.


Unbalanced is pretty much the only word that can describe it as playing as the rebels is only enjoyable if you’re some respawning sado masichist. The imprerials definitely have the upper hand with the ability to take control of the AT-ATs to go on a full on massacre though thankfully this isn’t on demand, instead a randomly chosen event that doesn’t happen too often.

A lot of people have said that it’s down to strategy and that over time they witnessed the rebels winning more and more but when the developers of the game, Dice this time round, are saying it’s unfair, there’s definitely something that needs done. However, on the rare occasion when the game actually feels balanced, it was a hell of a lot of fun and felt like a proper Star Wars mode, unlike Sullust’s Drop Zone which, although enjoyable, feels like a Battlefield game mode with a Star Wars skin on.


Despite this, I had a great time with Battlefront. Walker Assault might have its aforementioned unbalancedness but it was still highly enjoyable and just knowing I was fighting on the iconic snowy planet from Empire Strikes Back gave me chills, no pun intended. Even the Survival mode, which can be played with friends and on your own, was a heap of fun and if there’s even more planets to play on with greater enemy variety in the final product, it could be a solid alternative to COD’s zombies.

I’ll close this post on a note since I did witness a lot of people getting awfully negative about Battlefront over the past week and of course they’re entitled to it. After all it would be a bore if everyone just agreed about everything and just made do with what they have so this in no way me moaning about them moaning . However, what these people have to bare in mind is that it’s just a beta. Since it was released, 3 new game modes have been announced and DICE have taken all the feedback on board to try and craft the best game they can make. I remember the Halo Reach beta being a bit of a disaster and it still remains one of the best multiplayer games I’ve had the fortune of experiencing.

Take off the rose tinted glasses and you’ll see a game that’s full of potential and fun if you give it a chance.

So what are your thoughts on the Star Wars Battlefront Beta? Love it? Hate it? Leave your opinions, both good and bad, in the comments below since I’d love to see what you thought of it. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying.