A Quick, Spoiler Free Impressions of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I was going to write a long, detailed review of what I thought about the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I went online and I saw quite a number of friends of mine want to walk into the movie and experience it firsthand.

I have to respect that. I’m not going to do a proper review until after Christmas, but I want to be very spoiler free on some impressions I had about the movie.

I didn’t know too much about what the actual story was about, other that what was seen in a number of trailers. I will say, I stayed for the whole film, even for the credit and when the lights went up. For me, this was a very satisfying movie. For me, it was in the tradition of Star Wars, but tweaked. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while enjoyable I think that film tried to be an interpretation of the original Star Wars. In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the film was willing to stretch.

At first, I was thinking this was kind of like The Empire Strikes Back, in the sense that the actors were comfortable in their roles and expanded on romance and the introduction of new characters. This is NOT The Empire Strikes Back, but the growth and nuanced characterizations I liked.

I have the time off so I’m probably going to see the film this weekend again. Yes, I did enjoy Star Wars: The Last Jedi very much.

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Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

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Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

 

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Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

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Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

Posted in Comics | Leave a comment

Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

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Quick TV Reviews – The Season So Far Part 3 Final

Arrow – All I can say about Arrow so far this season is, my prayers have been answered. NO MORE FLASHBACKS OF THE ISLAND! That being said, we have evil Lara Lance, which isn’t as bad as the Island. As of last week, Michael Emerson was added to the cast as, wait for it, a computer genius. Look, if it were I would try to get Emerson for this role, but I think it’s too soon and too like his character from Person of Interest.

I think this season Arrow is missing the mark because they’ve gotten into a groove and they’re not willing to take risks. The cast is too large, and instead of getting rid of some with last season’s island explosion, all made it off the island mostly intact. Quinten went back to the bottle, so more intervention stories for him. Diggle has PTSD and is resorting to drugs. OK, so about the drug angle, there’s no way they’re going to do the classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow Speedy story, but maybe kind of reference it, please. Oh, and speaking of Speedy, they keep mentioning her, but she hasn’t been seen. That might be a good thing.

I think with five seasons under their belt, this may be a time where the creators may wish to rethink where this series is going. That’s my advice because the show is on cruise control right now and not in a good way. How many times can Oliver say he isn’t the Green Arrow with so much evidence pointing to that?

 

The Orville – Here’s my problem with The Orville; the topics and themes are very well in the vein of Star Trek, which makes the basic comparison to ST:D a compelling one. But the show isn’t a straight out comedy. I would say it’s more in the vein of The Office, where the humor comes from the dynamics of office life, but I don’t have a reverence point to base the show on because it’s about warp drives and alien species. Now, there is a place for humor in SF obviously, but I find McFarland’s humor too broad for my tastes. When he’s subtle, I like it but more often than not for my tastes he goes for low brow humor.

I think the early love for this show came from the fact the official ST:D made so many radical changes to the concept of Star Trek that a humorous take on the series was embraced. In my opinion, The Orville has been uneven. I wouldn’t say there have been great episodes, but the bad episodes, like the recent social media commentary episode, had to resort to people making silly (read humor) choices to move the plot around and to be “funny.” Here’s what I mean by over the top humor that rubbed me wrong in this episode.

The helmsman dry humping the statue was way over the top. He had been warned not to do it, ordered not to do it, but he kept doing it because it was funny. Because of the stupid act, he put himself in jeopardy. Considering he was trained as an officer and was warned about keeping a low profile, he didn’t do it.

The thing is, I smile at The Orville and I groan at it. I don’t dislike the show but I’m not a real fan of it.

 

Gotham – Much like the Batman movie from 1989, this show has a modern noir feel that is visually exciting. It’s a little punk and a little vintage that gives a nice used and decaying view of the city. At the beginning, the subtle introduction of future villains was nice, but as the seasons have gone on, it’s become a crowded gallery of bad guys.

This season has Bruce Wayne going down the road to become Batman, and that had to be something explored in the series, but the show, I’m not going to say it is boring but it’s becoming so crowded and people so familiar with one another they’re bumping into one another. In a city as large as Gotham, Edward Nigma happens to run into the one underground cyber-lite club that Lee works at. She also recognizes Butch and isn’t too surprised that he’s alive. (Yes, another thing, way too many characters die and return. It’s a bad joke at this point)

Gotham, to me, has some potential but they are fixated on bringing in the villain of the week instead of having a compelling story. Watching Gordon and Harvey, that complicated dynamic, is interesting, as well as Falcone’s power play against the Penguin is interesting. I’m starting to get interested in the dark side of Wayne. There are things the series can tap into other than the parade of villains meet ups.

 

Scandal – This is my sudsy soap opera. It’s ridiculous, the plots are outrageous, but the writers and actors are having so much fun and it shows. It’s infectious.

What I find more interesting about the series was a comment made last season about the show. The betting money was Hillary Clinton would be President and the plot possibilities might not be as interesting, but things didn’t work out that way and the antics of the current office holder makes the political world of Scandal tame and less chaotic in comparison. This is the final season of the show, and looking back it better to see the character arcs in the show. Again, it’s like a soap opera, with twists, turns, surprises and fun. Now that Liv is in control of B613, the weight of command is going to hang heavy on her shoulders. It seems that she’s burning bridges to keep her power. Will the power consume her, or will she regain her white hat?

I’ve enjoyed this show for six season and with the final season unfolding, I’m happy.

 

Marvel The Inhumans – I just can’t watch this anymore. The series didn’t start out great and it had gotten worse. It is painful to watch this. There really isn’t much I can in defense of the series.

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Quick TV Reviews – The Season So Far Part 2

The Blacklist – I really am fond of The Blacklist. I’ve liked Spader since those old 80s movies like Tuff Turf and Less than Zero. As Raymond Reddington, it’s almost like Spader modeled the character from those films.

While I like Spader in the role, I wasn’t very fond of the early “mystery” developed relating to Red and Elizabeth Keen. He was obviously going to be her father, so dragging the mystery out for four years seemed to be a stretch. Shows like The Blacklist, and I would put Scandal in the same category, gain longevity by having an engaging cast of supporting characters. The Blacklist has a very good ensemble cast. This season has Reddington without the financial wealth he has enjoyed the past few seasons. His empire was taken down by a longtime associate, and this season has focused on, along with the criminal backlist, Red rebuilding his organization.

Like most criminal characters made “heroes” on television, Red is the type of guy you want to hang around with. He’s funny, a little eccentric and has a very moral criminal code. It’s very easy to forget he is a criminal, a killer, and when that is forgotten, that’s when people normally find themselves facing the real Raymond Reddington. What makes these types of characters so seductive is the danger, which is why they are so fascinating.

 

Scorpion – I’ve written about it before, but I have a like/hate relationship with this show. The best way I can describe my issues with the show is to say it’s the same reaction I have to Star Trek: Discovery. With Scorpion, it wants to be a smart show, but it isn’t. It’s geeks vs normals and the creators have decided to show the geeky eccentricities and how they need to be normal to be relatable. Right now, I watch the show more to complain about its mistakes, as I see them, rather than for pure entertainment.

 

Designated Survivor – Earlier, I wrote on The Blacklist that having an actor like James Spader is nice, but to make things interesting you need to have a strong supporting cast to make a show engaging. Unfortunately, Designated Survivor does have an OK supporting cast, but the storylines are hurting the show, in my opinion. I think what makes it difficult to write for is the premise of the show has locked the writers into an impossible situation.

With the premise of most of the government infrastructure dismantled, this one survivor in that power dynamic is tasked with bringing the country back together, finding the people who destroyed the Capitol and government, and deal with a family that includes the cute daughter, rebellious son and understanding wife. In the middle of last season, it seemed that the creative people realized the corner they put themselves into, but instead of trying to solve the issues, they complicated matters.

This season started with awkwardly trying to retcon the mistakes of last season by, miraculously, having the first scene take place in the rebuilt Capitol. In the history of the US Government, there is no way the Capitol would have been rebuilt in a year. That’s just a minor nitpick with this season so far. The issues seem to have the ripped from the headlines feel to them; Naval blockade against an Arabic adversary, a virus outbreak and a border conflict with Mexico, with all of these issues being resolved by the end of the episode.

The personal lives of the supporting characters aren’t engaging and there isn’t a lot of build up or drama to them. There just mini-crisis of the week, normally handled with humor that seems ill placed. The one ongoing “drama” from the show is the possibility that the First Lady’s mother may have, 30 years earlier, may have taken a bribe so she could pay for her husband’s medical expenses. By the way, the First Lady, the kind, compassionate one from season one, seems to have been replaced by an irrational version this season. That’s the only explanation I can think of for her many missteps this season. She’s supposed to be a lawyer, a really good one, but it makes no sense, other than for piled on drama, for her to continually refuse to take the advice of her mother’s lawyer.

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Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

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Quick TV Reviews – The Season So Far Part 1

Star Trek: Discovery – I’ve said on every review I’ve done on this show, if it wasn’t for the Star Trek name this might be a passable show on its own, but you can’t get the fact that this Star Trek and it has 50 years of history behind it. I’m not asking for a slavish devotion to the series before it, because a show that has remained in the public eye that long can embrace change. Look at Dr. Who, another long running series that has gained mainstream popularity without dismissing its core formula.

ST:D may, in the end, suffer from what many Star Trek series suffer from. If you look at the first season of ST:TNG and others in the franchise, there has been a roughness to the series and it took a season or two before gaining the confidence to find their own rhythm. This might ultimately happen with this series but it will be rough going from what I’ve seen so far.

The main issue I have is they’re so trying to be hip, in a sense, they are giving us the sizzle and not much sustenance. There’s no wonderment, no fun in the sense of adventure and camaraderie. Even with ST:DS9, with a war theme, there were ways of keeping the show interesting. I keep looking for that with this show but I’m not getting that. I see questionable thing, and that is what I think about more than the storylines or personal interactions.

 

Supergirl – The romcom superhero show. The format works for me because, honestly, most shows are from a male perspective and it’s nice to see a show, especially a superhero show, from the female POV. I will say the romcom element can be pushed in some instances, but I think that works for the audience that is the CW. The CW formula is to have the extended family vibe. It’s present in all of the superhero shows on the CW.

Something I’m glad that happened a few weeks ago was the conflict between Maggie Sawyer and her father. I was expecting a typical apprehensive meeting then a gradual acceptance or a total rejection by her father. It was more nuanced than that, exploring his own rejection by others and the hope for his child. He explained his reasoning as best as he could, and while I didn’t agree with his decision, I understood why he came to that conclusion.

Tackling the balance between the superhero and the person behind the mask has been a subtle theme of the show. What I see with the female characters is a way of showing how women have to juggle between a professional and personal life. It is taken in the grand scope of Supergirl and Carol Danvers balancing things, but it’s also explored with the other female characters like Lena Luthor.

 

The Gifted – Not technically part of the Marvel family, but it definitely more Marvel like than The Inhumans. I’m warming up more to this show, which at first looked like a rehash of the NBC show Heroes. What I’m liking about the show is, like the X-Men comic series of old, the questions about mutants isn’t so black and white. We found out there was an incident, a protest that went terribly wrong, which led to the draconian measure against mutants. That caused things to escalate between mutants and humans.

OK, I have to admit I liked hearing the phrase “mutie” uttered a few times, but it is simply because it was a nod to a link to the comic series. I mentioned the show Heroes and for me The Gifted is what the promise of Heroes was but it never delivered on. Shows based on comic book properties, in the past, would focus on visualizing the cool abilities rather than the emotions and feeling about the character. In the focus of style over substance, the budgets couldn’t fully sustain the style and there would be little thought to the substance. This show, so far, has done a good job of focusing on the motivations and back stories of the characters and giving depth to them.

 

Star Wars: Rebels – The show is in its final year, and for those in the know we know where they show ends up. We aren’t sure if all of the crew of The Ghost will be at the battle of Scarif, nor if they all survive. So far the show has had 2 part episodes, shown back to back.

SW:R seemed a lot more kid friendly in the beginning of the series but at this point I would say it is at the teenager phase. This is probably due to the fact on where the end game probably is with the series. I’m looking forward as to how this all plays out, as well as some hints in the last few episodes that might tie into Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

 

The Flash: The Flash is the family friendly CW show. It has the whole vibe of family going throughout Team Flash. This is my popcorn show, along with Legends of Tomorrow. It’s comfort food and no matter how much craziness they throw in the plots, I roll with it. I’ve been a fan of the fun loving Flash when, which I thought was a bold move at the time, not only hinted at Gorilla Grodd in the first episode, actually had him appear in the first episode.

So I’m following along with the Thinker and the collection of the villains at Iron Heights and so far it is enjoyable. What I’m a little disappointed with is the domestic life of the characters. From the couple’s therapy to Joe having a baby, I’m concerned about the execution of those interactions. They seem a little too formula to me and not well planned or executed.

Another thing I’m starting to get concerned about, which is a general concern for TV series, is stunt casting for fan service. Look, it’s going to happen, I understand that. If you have a show and you can get someone familiar to the geek circuit, you’re going to go for it, but I’m not a big fan of it because for me it suspends belief in the character.

I still like The Flash but I fear they might have fatigue setting in with plot ideas.

 

DCs Legends of Tomorrow – My other popcorn show and this is so enjoyable because they don’t take themselves seriously. Last season, there were a number of time traveling shows on the schedule. Most treated the subject with dire circumstances and potential earth altering, time altering ramifications (yes I’m taking to you Time after Time and Timeless). It is ironic that the run of those genre of shows lasted one season and DCs Legend of Tomorrow is still chugging along.

(NOTE: Timeless will be returning, possibly, as a limited series sometime this season)

I think the fact that LOT doesn’t take itself seriously is a formula to its relative success. It’s turning into the Guardians of the Galaxy for the Arrowverse. They banter, disagree and may not be on the same page, but they try to do the right thing in spite of themselves and the lighthearted approach is a good formula for the show. The sly references to other cast projects is cool. While I’m not a fan of stunt casting, a wink and nod acknowledgement of things other cast members were involved in isn’t too much of a distraction for me.

Well, except for last week. I will say I had mixed feelings about the last episode, since it was an homage to ET: The Extraterrestrial. It was not one of my favorite movies and it seemed forced to add the elements of the movie for the show. Unlike last season’s George Lucas homage, which had a few key elements from his body of work, the ET homage just piled on references. However, I’m willing to ride with the silliness because the silliness works with the vibe of the team.

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