Star Wars Episode VII—A Newer Hope?

Alright, force devotees the news of day is as follows: Michael Kaplan, the costume designer for Star Trek Into Darkness has revealed that he has joined the Star Wars Episode VII production crew.  The famed designer work is also showcased in: Blade Runner, Star Trek and Fight Club. Although, the Star Trek costumes were indeed stylish, it still makes me wonder where JJ Abrams plans on going with this new series.  With Michael Kaplan joining the crew, it just seems that JJ Abrams is trying to bring Star Trek into Star Wars. Personally, I believe that JJ Abrams should have production crew members that previously worked on the original Star Wars series as to have a good balance amongst the crew.  It is hard to imagine with the rivalry between the two franchises and one director working on both, that certain themes will not overlap. If that does happen I am sure that devotees of the Force will not be pleased.  JJ Abrams has proven himself as a great director with the Star Trek franchise, which gives us all hope that the revamped Star Wars series will be brilliant as long as he remembers that Star Wars is NOT Star Trek! Episode VII is due out in cinemas in the summer of 2015; I’m very interested in seeing how it turns out.

Let me know your thoughts below.

Star Wars Episode III–Revenge of the Sith

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Star Wars Episode III— Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid

Director: George Lucas

George Lucas draws the Star Wars film series to a close with the release of the sixth and final installment of the dark sci-fi adventure. From the original series we have always known that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, and that Luke and Leia were his offspring; so that isn’t all that new, however, it is exciting to find out how and why Anakin lost his way. Filled with exciting action scenes and top of the line visual feats, George Lucas really shows us why he is King of Sci-Fi.

As Episode III opens, Obi-Wan (McGregor) and Anakin (Christensen) are piloting fighter craft on a mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid), who has been captured by General Grievous. Anakin successfully rescues the Chancellor whilst caring for injured Obi-Wan. Back at the Jedi Council, Anakin finds himself not given the title Jedi Master despite his heroics in saving the Chancellor.  The council distrusts the Chancellor and wants Anakin to spy on him. Likewise, the Chancellor wants Anakin to spy on the Council. Who to choose? At this point we began to see Anakin changing for the worse. Palpatine playing the most pivotal role of playing on Anakin’s already wounded ego. He plants the seed of doubt in his mind that the Jedi don’t trust him. Despite the Chancellor’s attempts, we still see Anakin reluctant to join the dark side.

The turning point comes with the discovery of Padmè’s pregnancy. Anakin’s reaction is that of a teenage comedy, looking awkwardly pleased on the outside, but wondering how this will affect all the amazing things he will get to do.  His horrific visions of Padmè dying in child birth are the climax of the film. His inability to accept death as a part of nature and willingness to go through all lengths to stop Padmè from dying marks Anakin’s descent to the dark side of the force.

As always, the dialogue is the weakest point in the entire film and film series. To say George Lucas cannot write a love scene is the understatement of the century. A hallmark card can probably express more passion. Likewise, the action and overall plot trumped the poor dialogue. The special effects of this movie are much more sophisticated than all of the previous movies. Each second of this movie kept you on the edge of your seat, never feeling dragged out. The final battle scene on the planet of Musatafar was spectacular. The movements and fighting is much more complex and really makes you wish light sabers were real. Similarly, we never imagine Yoda in a fight scene as anything that would be cool. But alas, we are mistaken. Animated Yoda can kick some major butt.

While the previous two episodes of the prequel series left us feeling questionable and concerned whether or not George Lucas lost his touch; Episode III truly made it ok to love Star Wars again. George Lucas really brought his all and delivered. The overall plot, graphics, and special effects are truly phenomenal, and disguise the poor dialogue. George Lucas truly achieved what few artists are able to ever do; he created a whole new world that will be appreciated by many generations to come.  Episode III a thriller that deserves 4.5 stars and is a must see film that will leave you wanting more.

Star Wars Episode II–Attack of the Clones Movie Review

Star Wars: Episode Two—Attack of the Clones (2002)

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Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman

Director: George Lucas

A decade after the events that occurred in the Phantom Menace, there is unrest in the Galactic Senate. Several thousand Solar Systems have declared their desire to leave the Republic. A Separatist movement, under the leadership of malicious former Jedi Master, Count Dooku has made it difficult for the limited Jedi Knights to maintain peace in the Republic. With Count Dooku threatening the peace, the Galactic Senate debates whether to enact the Military Creation Act, allowing the formation of an army for the protection of the Republic. Senator Padmè Amidala, former Queen of Naboo returns to Coruscant to cast her vote against the act. A failed assassination attempt upon her arrival, prompts Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to request Jedi Knights, Obi-Wan and his apprentice, Anakin to protect her. Under Anakin’s protection, love blossoms between the pair.

After the long awaited release of Episode One–The Phantom Menace, was met with mixed reviews, George Lucas came back with Episode II—Attack of the Clones. With two storylines intertwined, this movie is packed with action and romance. Also, thanks to technological advancements Lucas is able to depict the beauty of outer space, including detailed space stations and planets in a way that was impossible in 1977.

Attempting to follow the storyline pattern of the The Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones splits up its leading cast to pursue separate adventures before reuniting them for the final battle against evil. Unfortunately, this time the intertwined storylines did not flow, and instead made it difficult to follow along. The plot was well thought out, but poor direction and dreadful acting failed to let the storyline shine. Newcomer, Hayden Christensen was an unsuitable choice to fill the illustrious role of Anakin Skywalker. Even his attractiveness could not disguise his dreadful acting. Likewise, the romance between Anakin and Padmè was overall a cringe-worthy moment. The stiff and flat dialogue between the pair was not a convincing portrayal of love. Furthermore, the brief reappearance of the most despised sidekick in all of history, Jar Jar Binks, is completely irrelevant to the overall plot.

Consequently, the phenomenal special effects and features allowed the film to redeem itself. The final battle scene really puts the “Wars” back in Star Wars. I never thought Yoda in a lightsaber duel would ever look amazing, but it does. Similarly, Obi-Wan’s duel with Jango Fett in the rain is superb. There is a great mixture of hand-on-hand combat and lightsaber vs. blasters. Also, the mystery of who is trying to assassinate Padmè leads the film in a highly enjoyable suspense thrill reminiscent of an old private detective film.

All in all, middle episodes in trilogies have the potential to be dissatisfying. Unlike, The Empire Strikes Back which dazzled us with action and romance while bridging the gap between the films, Attack of the Clones unfortunately left us disappointed. The overall, sub par acting and ill-portrayed romance overshadowed the rest of the plot. Despite the exceptional special effects and grand lightsaber duels, this movie deserves only 2.5 stars.

Star Wars Episode I–The Phantom Menace Review

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Star Wars: Episode One—The Phantom Menace (1999)

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd

Director: George Lucas

Synopsis: Jake Lloyd stars as a young Anakin Skywalker before he becomes his alter-ego, Darth Vader. In this fourth installment of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars Saga, two Jedi Knights (McGregor and Neeson) are assigned as ambassadors to resolve a trade dispute in the planet of Naboo. In their journey to acquire allies, they come across a young slave boy (Lloyd) who may bring balance to the Force, but the long idle Sith resurfaces to reclaim their throne.

In 1977, George Lucas released Star Wars, the ultimate sci-fi fantasy, money-making film franchise of all time. The Saga changed the shape of the film industry. After two successful sequels (The Empire Strikes Back 1980, and The Return of the Jedi, 1983) George Lucas took time off to work on other projects with mixed success.  However, in 1999, to the happiness of fans, he resurrected the Star Wars series with the release of Episode I–The Phantom Menace. Rather than continue where the Return of the Jedi left off, Lucas decided to try a new approach. The Phantom Menace recounts the story of what happened in the intergalactic universe before Episode IV—A New Hope.

When a political trade dispute threatens the planet of Naboo, two Jedi Knights must travel to Naboo to secure allies and escort Queen Amidala to Coruscant in hopes of settling the dispute peacefully. In their quest they are joined by Gungan outcast, Jar Jar Binks, and a slave child, Anakin Skywalker, who seems to be unusually strong with the Force.

With an 8-year-old lead character, this movie is more suited for kid’s attention span. Devotees of the Force would agree with me when I say, of the prequel series, the Phantom Menace is by far the weakest. Technology trumped the story-telling, overall plot and character development. Lucas and his team brilliantly captured some amazing visual feats, especially during the pod race, but the other short-coming were noticeable. Jar Jar Binks for example is probably the most useless character. He seemed more of a filler and comedy relief if anything.

Consequently, the rebirth of the Sith is thrilling. Darth Maul is impressive; Coupled with his terrifying appearance and extraordinary skill with a dual-ended lightsaber, he is a force to be reckoned with. Likewise, Darth Sidious is electrifying, living a double life, as an evil Sith Lord with a master plan to overthrow the Jedi’s from within, and as Chancellor of the Galactic Republic.

Sixteen Years after Return of the Jedi, George Lucas comes back with an exciting family movie that leaves you hungry for more. This film served as great entertainment with exceptional visual effects and overall imaginative quality. With the help of modern technology, George Lucas brought superb state of the art special effects, colorful inventions and overall sense of fun into the Phantom Menace. This combined made up for the minor shortcomings. This is still a must-see film. True devotees will appreciate Lucas’s attempt to resurrect the series and continue the story that has captivated us since 1977.