Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Greetings, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is the most recent instalment in the Star Wars franchise and it is the third film to be released after Disney bought the rights to the franchise back in 2014. The film sees the return of Mark Hamill as the iconic Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher in her last appearance as fan favourite Princess Leia, Anthony Daniels as the comedic droid C3-PO and the new leads with Daisy Ridley as Rey, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron and John Boyega as Finn are back on screens as well. Some new actors and actresses also join the series such as Kelly Marie Tran and Benicio del Toro who have considerable screen time as Rose and DJ. John Williams is back once more as the composer, a vital role to this series and one which helped Star Wars become the memorable cultural phenomenon that it is today. The Last Jedi appears to be the most divisive film in the franchise to date in which most of the critics praised it but the average cinemagoer seemed to hold a more negative opinion in comparison.
The plot begins with a space battle in which the Resistance fighters are going toe to toe against a First Order Fleet. The Resistance attack, led by Poe, is successful in destroying a Dreadnought vessel but has resulted in many fatal casualties on their side and so they decide to flee by jumping into hyperspace. Much to their horror, they realize that the First Order has tracked them and is now bearing down upon them with superior firepower and a larger fleet. Kylo Ren leads an assault upon the heroes’ cruisers and after sensing his mother’s presence aboard the Resistance flagship, he refrains from firing a missile upon it. The ship is hit by another TIE Fighter and the contact destroys the control bridge resulting in the death of many of the leaders, including Admiral Ackbar from the Original Trilogy, and hurtling Leia out into space. Leia manages to save herself from the situation by using her force powers to pull herself back on board in a scene which was meant to be uplifting but comes across as ridiculous to me.
With Leia in a comatose state, Vice Admiral Holdo takes command of the fleet much to Poe’s distaste as he believes her strategy of escape is too passive and will result in all their deaths. While this is unfolding, Finn was attempting to use an escape pod to find Rey, and a resistance maintenance officer named Rose saps him with her Taser as she believed him to be a deserter. Dameron, concerned about Holdo’s lack of leadership, asks Finn, Rose and BB-8 to clandestinely travel to the casino planet of Canto Bight and acquire the services of a hacker who could disable the First Order’s tracking device. Elsewhere in the Galaxy Rey asks Luke to train her in the ways of the force on the isolated planet of Ahch-To where he had been living for many years following the destruction of the Empire. Luke initially rebukes her and as the story progress it is eventually revealed why he turned his back on teaching the Jedi religion to others.
Overall, I believe I preferred it to the Force Awakens (which I probably gave too high a rating in retrospect) for trying a new plot instead of rehashing one from the Original Trilogy and for providing some unexpected twists. Another positive is that it is very stylistic and aesthetically pleasing to watch however I have more criticisms than praise for the Last Jedi. This new trilogy seems hell-bent on marginalizing the roles of or killing off the much loved characters that were previously established such as Han Solo and replacing them with boring, one dimensional personalities. There are also issues with the villains in that General Hux seems to be incompetent, Captain Phasma was given so little screen time that she couldn’t make an impact on the story and Kylo Ren does not come across as an intimidating threat. Another complaint I have about the film is the completely irrelevant side plot with Finn and the dull new protagonist Rose on Canto Bight which leads to nothing but serves only as a time filler. Finally, as with the end of Rogue One there is a very forced romance between two of the main characters which feels very unnatural and comes out of nowhere. While I will undoubtedly watch the next instalment in the franchise when it is released in cinemas, I will not have high expectations for it.
Quote of the Day
Oh, that wasn't a bit nice...You have made me very angry... very angry indeed!
Marvin the Martian
Happy New Year: 2017 Review!
Greetings and welcome to the last blog update of the year. With 2017 coming to a close, it is time for me to highlight my favourite pieces of entertainment as is tradition on the 31st December. As always, the categories consist of my personal favourite film, book, television show and video game but the winners were not necessarily released in this year. I only had to experience them in 2017 for one to be a contender. I haven’t written as many reviews as I would have liked due to some recent changes to my blog and as such I shall have to add in winners that haven’t been the focus of an update. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of my blog and I intend to reorganize it at some stage by writing smaller reviews but having two topics per one blog entry.
Television Show of the Year: Stranger Things Season 2
Stranger Things returned to our screens in 2017 with its highly anticipated second season. It is set one year after the original and continues with the same cast as well as introduces some new characters with mixed success. The two new characters that impressed me the most were Bob Newby, the nerdy love interest of Joyce Byers, played by Sean Astin and Sadie Sink as new kid on the block, Maxine ‘Max’ Mayfield. The series successfully explores interesting new ground with bigger paranormal threats and still has a similar feel to the original series. I also liked how the storyline revolving around Barb was resolved in this second instalment after being left untied in the first entry. I am looking forward to see what the Duffer Brothers have planned for the next series.
Book of the Year: Dark Tower
The Dark Tower has recently been brought back into the main stream culture in 2017 with the universally panned film starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey but the concluding novel in this series is my book of the year. It is one of the weaker instalments in the series in my opinion but provides an ending, of sorts, to the long, sprawling and downright strange adventure as Roland attempts to reach the Dark Tower. It is also worth noting that Stephen King attempts to tie his other non-related novels together into this series by mentioning characters in an offhand comment or by giving them an important role in the finale. King produced an interesting conclusion to his major set of works that will not have gone down well with all fans of the Dark Tower.
Game of the Year: South Park: Stick of Truth
The Stick of Truth is an RPG title which was released in 2014 and was written by the show’s writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The adventures takes place in the small mountain town of South Park and follows the adventures of New Kid, a customizable character, as he becomes involved in a fantasy role playing game with the local residents. Stick of Truth provides many references to the show and in true South Park fashion, this game contains toilet humour and comedic offensive content that fans of the television series will appreciate. There is also a sequel to Stick of Truth were Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, Stan and the rest of the gang decide to trade the fantasy role playing game for a superhero one.
Film of the Year: Baby Driver
Baby Driver had me hooked from the moment it began and was definitely my favourite movie from 2017. Similar to another one of my favourites, La La Land, Baby Driver is stylistic, has a great cast and has memorable music as a main component of the film. The plot revolves around a young getaway driver by the nickname of Baby and his attempts to leave his life of crime behind him. The cast, consisting of well accomplished actors and actresses such as Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm and Eiza González, give excellent performances for this spectacular movie. I’ll be sure to check out future works by director Edgar Wright after the fun I had watching this film.
So, that is it for my personal favourites for 2017 and for my blog for the rest of this year. What were your favourite pieces of entertainment? Feel free to add in the comment section below. I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Have a happy New Year and all the best for 2018!
Quote of the Day
Well, here's to us.
Merry Christmas 2017!
Greetings, in accordance with my annual traditions on my blog I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I have one more blog update planned for 2017 in which I will round up my favourite works from various media including books, television shows, games and films I had experienced throughout the year. This is to be released, as always, on the 31st December. I believe we have had a very successful Write Wise challenge this year with some unique and interesting entries. All those who contributed had done a great job on their stories and I am looking forward to what you will all bring in 2018.
I don’t have anything planned for Write Wise in 2018 at the minute but I do have plenty of stories I would like to tell. An Odyssey of the Rogues sequel is certainly in the works and I would like to make a science fiction entry at some stage as I don’t believe this genre has been overly touched upon. Similar to Odyssey of the Rogues, I would have to build up and create a whole universe for it to take place in. As I have said for the last few years, I definitely want to return to the Guardians series and believe it will need some sort of revamp as it has been a long time since I last wrote one. Guardian is a little trickier to write than others as it has one long overarching plot to construct compared to other series which would have a more standalone feel to sequels or prequels. Have a Merry Christmas tomorrow!
Quote of the Day
Very good. Happy Christmas!
Greetings, Baby Driver is a 2017 film written and directed by Edgar Wright of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy fame. It boasts an impressive cast with upcoming actor Ansel Elgort taking the primary role as Baby, Kevin Spacey who has an extensive filmography is also included as is Mad Men’s John Hamm and Jamie Foxx from Django Unchained. Lily James and Eiza González portray the two main female characters in the movie. The soundtrack to Baby Driver is a very important feature of the film as the actions of the characters are synchronized with the music. It is comprised of various songs from a diverse range of different genres and musicians which include Queen, Focus and Dave Brubeck.
The plot begins in Atlanta with Baby, a young and gifted getaway driver, successfully evading the police pursuing him after his team members commit a robbery. His fellow thieves, who all use nicknames to avoid identification, consist of the important characters of Buddy and Darling as well as the secondary character of Griff. Baby is under the employ of the mysterious criminal mastermind known only as Doc and it is soon revealed that Baby has no passion or desire for a life of crime. He provides his driving services in order to pay off the debt he owed to Doc after Baby attempted to steal from the kingpin at a young age. While Baby is not pulling a heist, he visits a local diner and becomes infatuated with a waitress by the name of Debora.
Baby is to undertake another robbery which he believes will be his last as it will pay off all his debt. He is assigned to drive a group of other criminals to their location and provide a speedy escape. Doc ensures that he circulates his crew of thieves and does not tend to use the same team for different heists. The current crew consists of the aggressive Bats, Eddie “No-Nose” and JD. This mission goes awry with a guard being killed in the chaotic scene and Baby, who witnessed the murder, has a strong adverse reaction to it. He is determined to leave his past crimes behind him and start a new life. After a successful getaway he is on a date with Deborah and believing that he is now free. This does not turn out to be the case as Baby is found by Doc in the restaurant. In a private conversation between the two, it is revealed that the kingpin has no intention of letting him go and that Deborah would be hurt if Baby stopped working for him. As a result, Baby starts to see that he can no longer stay in Atlanta if he wants his freedom and so he begins to plot a way out for himself with Deborah at his side.
I really enjoyed Baby Driver and believe that the actors and actresses involved gave great performances. It was a very stylistic and colourful film which I thought was a highlight of the cinematic experience. Another excellent aspect of Baby Driver was the vast range of music included in the final product as it suited their respective scenes perfectly. I also liked the use of music being incorporated into the origin story of Baby and thought the reasons provided for how he became such a compulsive listener was a rather interesting plot point or characterisation for him. Overall, this is a movie that I was thoroughly entertained by and would encourage you to watch it if you haven’t done so already.
Quote of the Day
I know what you're thinking: "Oh no, Thor's in a cage. What happened?" Well, it's a long story...
The Quiz Part 9
Greetings, November is here once more and that means it is time for Falcon’s Annual Quiz. This is the 9th incarnation that has taken place on my blog with the first taking place on 24th August 2009. The second was held on the 9th April 2010 before I finally decided to make this an annual occasion set on a November date with the third quiz. As always, the test focuses mostly within the realm of entertainment but also contains a few general knowledge questions. Unfortunately, I can’t keep a tally of the score from the very beginning as the first two quizzes have incomplete records but I do have the previous year’s results. Joh was the winner of 2016’s quiz with eight points, Mark came in second with seven and Aaron narrowly behind with six. The answers can be found below as always. In other news, I intend to enter the 2017 Writing Challenge for Write Wise with a Christmas entry and a long awaited sequel to one of my previous stories from a few years ago. Best of luck and enjoy.
1. Who provided the voice of the journalist/narrator in Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the World’s from 1978?
2. Who said this? –“Here's Johnny!”
3. On what date last year did the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland vote in the EU referendum which resulted in the triggering of Brexit?
4. Which of the following is not a name used by Clint Eastwood’s the Man with No Name in the Dollars trilogy-Blondie, Manco or Angel Eyes?
5. What is the title of Mark’s first Write Wise entry?
6. Put the following Tolkien works in the chronological order they were published in-The Silmarillion, The Two Towers, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit and The Return of the King?
7. Name the Characters.
8. Unscramble the letters to reveal an actor- PCRHIOHTES ELE
9. The events of Stranger Things is set in the fictional town of Hawkins but in what US state is it located?
10. Donald Trump was inaugurated as the President of the United States earlier this year but how many men have held the office before him if Grover Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms are counted as two different presidencies?
1. Richard Burton
2. Jack Torrance
3. 23rd June 2016
4. Angel Eyes
6. The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King and the Silmarillion
7. Sebastian and Mia
8. Christopher Lee
Quote of the Day
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!
President Merkin Muffley
Greetings, Alan Wake is a 2010 video game developed by Finnish developers Remedy Entertainment who are also known for their other titles of Max Payne and Quantum Break. Wake has an episodic format which is comprised of six episodes and two DLC specials that continue the plot after the main campaign is completed. The game has been described as a psychological thriller and makes several references to horror writer Stephen King, a main influencer of Wake’s tense atmosphere and dark storyline. The actors, while relatively unknown, deliver a great performance with Matthew Porretta as the titular lead and Fred Berman’s voice talents as the comedic Barry Wheeler in particular.
The plot begins with famed writer Alan Wake and his wife travelling to the small town of Bright Falls located in Washington. It is explained on the boat journey that Alan has been suffering for two years from writer’s block and so they decide to take a vacation in a remote, quaint town. In reality, the trip was constructed by his wife Alice and Agent Barry Wheeler as a means to overcome his issues. The couple had planned to have a relaxing stay in a lone cabin on an island surrounded by Cauldron Lake. On Alan’s first stop in Bright Falls, he enters a diner where he meets a waitress who happens to be a big fan of his and a strange hermitic woman who warns him cryptically about the darkness. Wake shrugs off her warnings and pays no heed to her advice. He then travels to his next destination to pick up the keys to the cabin from its owner Carl Stucky. Upon his arrival he encounters a woman who explains that Stucky was ill and therefore unable to make it as planned. She hands Alan the keys and Wake leaves. Stucky, who is revealed to be fine, tries to catch Alan as he departs and give him the real keys but he couldn’t reach Wake in time.
As Alan and Alice attempt to settle into the cabin, Wake notices a type writer on the table. Alice explains to her husband that she had planned this whole trip as a means to break the writer’s block and that she had booked a consultation for him to meet a local psychologist named Dr Hartman. This was unbeknownst to Alan and upon hearing it he became infuriated, storming out of the cabin. His walk out is cut short as he can hear Alice scream for help. Alan runs back inside to discover his wife being dragged into Cauldron Lake by a sinister and supernatural force. He jumps into the lake after her but blacks out in his rescue attempt. Alan recovers from the blackout a week later and discovers that he had been in a car accident but had no memories of the incident to recall. The writer, who was still in the crashed car, walks along a dark road back to civilization and begins his journey to discover what happened to his wife.
Overall, I enjoyed the game in the end even though it took me a while it to get into it after my initial dislike of Wake. I also liked the setting of Bright Falls with its small town feel and found it to be a very atmospheric location, full of bizarre characters, to set the thriller in. There is also another game in the Wake franchise. Alan Wake’s American was released two years later in 2012 and apparently changed the tone from disturbing isolation to a black comedy. This is a game that I would like to check out at some stage and would be interested in seeing how Remedy Entertainment handled the change of genre.
Quote of the Day
An army of nightmares, huh? Let's get this party started.
The Cabin in the Woods