From the same whimsical mind that brought you comedic hits such as “Slap ass”, “I said ‘biiiiiiiiiiitch’”, and “The Key and Peele East v. West Bowl”, comes a bloody nightmare about doppelgängers who never blink or speak but want to slice your face off with rusty scissors. Actually, now that I say that, maybe someone should go check on Jordan Peele. Just make sure everything is alright. The Academy Award-Winner has taken the necessary steps to prove that his debut masterpiece “Get Out” was no fluke and that he is the king of social-conscious horror, but this is such a departure from his comedy roots, you can’t help but feel concerned that this is a cry for help.
“Us” is a story that centers mainly around the Wilson family on their vacation to Santa Cruz. The mother, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) had a traumatic experience at the very same beach they are visiting when she was a child in the 80s that left her suffering from PTSD, when she wandered into a hall of mirrors and saw a real child who looked like her but was not her reflection. Unable to share her experience for the longest of times, Adelaide has a creeping paranoia about her and she just knows something bad is going to happen to her while she is there. And wouldn’t you know it, something bad does happen! When their doppelgängers called “the Tethered” appear in their driveway one night, a bunch of whacky shenanigans ensue with blood, murder, stalking, and ZERO blinking whatsoever.
The film appears to be a by-the-book slasher film about a home invasion, and for a solid chunk of the runtime, it colors within the lines, albeit, quite well, but it expands into a larger world soon enough. I am not a typical patron of horror films because I do not enjoy the feeling of being terrified while I am trying to enjoy myself. However, “Us” is the exception to that rule. During the introduction to the Tethered, there was something alluring about impending sense of reckoning that the film portrayed. Knowing that Jordan Peele is not one to simply introduce something without a greater purpose, I found myself on the edge of my seat, eager for the explanation as to why everyone has an evil double. It was a proper mix of fright and exposition, which was key in building investment into both the family and the Tethered. I will not spoil anything, but the payoff is satisfying and it had me contemplating deeper meanings for days afterwards.
The Tethered, themselves, are freaky. Evil doubles are not exactly a new concept in film but “Us” creates a slowly unraveling mystery as to their purpose and why they are the way they are. Each Tethered is portrayed by the same actor that plays their corresponding normal person, but the combination of lighting, makeup, and brilliant acting by everyone in the film make it seem as though they are different people who look just similar enough. Zora’s (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason’s (Evan Alex) Tethered need special mention. I am not usually the biggest fan of child actors, but when they are good, DAMN are they good. Both of them portrayed what I felt were the most dangerous characters in the entire film, all with simple ticks and no dialogue. Zora’s Tethered, named Umbrae, had her eyes always wide open and the most devious smile, and Jason’s Tethered, named Pluto, wore a mask and was an obsessive pyro-maniac. Absolute nutjobs.
As far as the lead goes, Lupita Nyong’o is brilliant. Between playing Adelaide and her Tethered, Red, she did so much for this film. Carrying the burden of bringing exposition, human-connection, and stakes to the film, she unleashes possibly her best performance of her career. And with Red, she is given free run to act as a demonic, calculating maniac with no eyebrows. I am a fan of actors effectively modulating their voice to portray a character, and Lupita does a praiseworthy job creating a perfect voice for Red that is both reasonable to accept and horrifically unsettling. I may be the only one who cares, at least at this point, but if I hope she gets nominated for an Oscar for this. I do not care how many period dramas are released between now and next year’s Academy Awards, I am willing to bet there will be no lead who will match Lupita’s performance, as far a difficulty and execution go. I just hope that she gets the recognition she deserves.
Jordan Peele has built his film reputation on providing deeper meanings to the horror genre. His first film “Get Out” did not leave much to the imagination with regards to its message. It hit you over the head with it and made sure you understood what it was trying to tell you. “Us” is a bit more subtle. Topics like classism, inequality, and free will are definitely discussed, but we are not given a definitive moral stance by Peele. That is the beauty of the execution of the film. We are given just enough for our minds to wander down the rabbit hole and solve the problem on our own. There is symbolism littered throughout the film that keen eyes will notice and theorize about for the foreseeable future. Even something as small as the scissors used as bloody weapons can be totems that represent parallelism. As long as you are thinking about the topics and trying to connect the dots, the film has succeeded with its goal.
Peele also is ambiguous with his use of twists in the film. Obviously, I will not spoil any of those because that would be inhumane and take the venom out of the cobra for anyone who has not seen the film yet. But the vagueness the director uses allows the viewer to manipulate the film further in their own head. And the coolest part about that is that all those speculative conspiracies could be right. Peele does not give us all the answers yet again. Similarly to the messaging, he gives us just enough to complete the narrative while allowing us ample room to use our imagination to fill in more.
What you need to know about this film is that it can fill whatever role you want it to fill. Do you want a movie about social commentary? “Us” has that. Do you want a movie that is so bloody and horrifying that you can enjoy while turning your brain off? “Us” can be enjoyed that way. “Us” is a perfect combination of the two. It is just so hard to believe that Xmus Jaxon Flaxon Waxon is the new king of horror.
I would give “Us” a bloody 9.0 out of 10.
Directed by: Jordan Peele Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elizabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex Rated: R Runtime: 1 Hour and 56 Minutes
We live in exciting times, I’ll tell you what. The nerds have successfully overthrown society and everyone seems cool with it. There was a time, not too long ago, where the idea of being openly a fan of comic books, video games, superheroes, and science fiction would be a one-way ticket to the shadow realm… err, I mean a one-way ticket to the bottom of any social food chain. I may have mentioned it before, but my mother still thinks nerds are getting their lunch money stolen on a daily basis, and while I don’t mean to belittle any of our people still enduring the age-old war, we have certainly come a long way from my mother’s suspiciously detailed memories of nerds being bullied in public schools. What was once a functioning hierarchy that comfortably suppressed nerds from rising in the ranks until well into our 40s when the big fellas’ physical advantages begin to atrophy, or far less likely, everyone matures enough to accept people with different interests, now has nerds ascending to the throne of social prominence with far less interreference than ever before. The reason for this glorious change in the world is that nerd culture has infiltrated the mainstream and usurped whatever forgettable fad was sitting in its place as the people’s champion in pop culture.
The most effective medium for the invasion of the nerds is film, particularly superhero films. Modern filmmakers have the ability to construct absurdly fantastic scenes on the silver screen which allowed creations that were only seen in the 2-dimensional drawings of comic book panels to grace audiences with a realistic charm for the first time. And, as it turns out, everyone has an imagination and everyone wants to have a good time. Who would have thunk it? We now see trailers for superhero movies be the major attraction during the Super Bowl. Could you imagine explaining to someone 15 years ago how more people were interested in 40 seconds of teaser footage for a comic book movie than they were for the biggest sporting event in the world? But these are the times we are living in and it is phenomenal stuff.
As I do and as the title suggests, I am going to rank my Top 10 Superhero Movies of All Time. And as always, my opinions and rankings are gospel and should be considered nonfiction at your local library. Honorable Mentions go to “Captain America: Civil War”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Thor: Ragnarok”, “Black Panther”, “Batman Begins”, “Batman”, and “X-Men: Days of Future’s Past”.
****NOTE: This list was made prior to the release of “Avengers: Endgame” and therefore it will not appear here, although it undoubtedly deserves to be****
POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD
10. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018)
I am starting out with a major curveball. This is why I am up here, and you’re down there. What you consider audacity, I consider courage. You cowards lack the conviction to make this pick. I have the fortitude to do what is necessary, while you flounder in a shallow pool of your own cowardice. Pathetic.
If you took the time to see this movie, you would definitely have been rewarded with a fun take on the superhero genre. If you didn’t see it, then I am sorry you don’t know what it means to be cool. While it may not be known as a classic or have the reputation of other films, this one deserves recognition.
“Teen Titans Go!” has had a successful run as a TV show on Cartoon Network that has probably not gotten the respect and praise it deserves. As a show, it follows in the footsteps of the “Teen Titans” show that was a more serious anime-style show that won over fans in the early 2000s, but behaves so differently. Instead of taking itself seriously, it is gratuitously self-aware that it is a cartoon and meta humor ensues. Using the same voice actors from the original show, this style could rub die-hard fans the wrong way, but if you watch it with an open mind, I promise you it is one of the funniest shows on television.
“Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” takes the working formula from the show and dials it up past 11. The film follows the Titans as they help Robin achieve his dream of starring in a movie because all real heroes have movies about them. Just the fact that they live in a world where Robin is both aware that he is in a show and that superheroes know about and star in their own films is incredibly meta. It takes seriously clever writing to be able to create a story that effectively blends so many planes of culture and reality into a narrative that people understand.
The actual content in the film is shamelessly “wet your pants” funny. There is a sequence where the Titans try to prevent all the other superheroes from going down their heroic paths so Robin could be the only hero and get his movie, and we are shown the team reversing all of our favorite origin stories like Superman’s and Batman’s. But after it is shown that they destroyed the world, they have to go back in time and undo that AND THEY SHOW ROBIN GETTING BATMAN’S PARENTS KILLED AND BLOWING UP KRYPTON BASICALLY ON SCREEN WITH A SMILE. It is deranged and some of the best humor I have seen in any film, let alone a superhero film.
This movie also doubles as a fun musical, which is usually hit or miss, as the songs could drag on and remove the audience from the action. But that is not the case here. The songs are really funny and catchy, sung by brilliant artists like Michael Bolton. I honestly cannot say enough about how funny this film is. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you drop whatever it is you’re doing at the moment and go watch it. Nothing could be more important than this.
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
This one is more predictable than the last one. Marvel Films will be very prominent on this list and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is amongst the elite of the franchise. The character of Captain America is usually likeable enough, albeit, reminiscent of that one kid in class who reminds the teacher that they did not collect last night’s homework (You know, that one kid we all hate and hopefully will get what’s coming to them), but it was not until this film that we got a personal story about Cap that actually got us excited about him.
On a mission, Cap and Black Widow discover that S.H.E.I.L.D. has been infiltrated by the Nazi-splinter group Hydra ever since the end of World War II, essentially showing us that the organization whose sole goal was to protect humanity from threats that the heroes fought for was really trying to get the world to militarize and sacrifice its freedoms in the name of security. There is a lot of political commentary there if you really want to look at it.
It also turns out that the mysterious Hydra assassin, dubbed “The Winter Soldier”, is actually Steve Rogers’s childhood best friend, Bucky Barnes, whom was supposedly killed on a mission, but instead brainwashed and physically altered by Hydra. It’s like a damn soap opera in here with how dramatic this crap is.
What makes this film so compelling is the personal stakes displayed and the major changes in the grand status quo. Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and new recruit Sam Wilson play the roles of spies and superheroes, creating a farm more intimate approach to storytelling that is not often seen in the extravagant Marvel films. In fact, the reason why I rank this above “Captain America: Civil War” is that it achieves stakes with incredible action scenes without having to resort to bringing in every hero for a battle royale spectacular to be great.
8. The Avengers (2012)
I remember when the first “Avengers” film came out. I was still in high school, flaunting an innocent naivety that would melt even the coldest bastard’s frosty heart. It was a time when I thought I knew everything, as opposed to now when I know I know everything. Up until this point, every Marvel film was produced by Universal, and outside of “Iron Man”, the franchise was not yet a bonafide juggernaut. “Thor”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”, and “Iron Man 2” were just average, and “The Incredible Hulk” was so forgettable that they changed Ed Norton into Mark Ruffalo and I didn’t even notice for several years. There was no telling if Marvel could pull off a team up movie of this caliber.
Sweet baby Jesus, was my concern misplaced. Being the first MCU film produced after Disney purchased Marvel from Universal, “The Avengers” completely set the tone and direction for the MCU from that point on. For the first time, we saw multiple superheroes work together on screen to fight a foe that posed a greater threat than any that came before it. You want stakes, well, you’ve got them.
The ensemble cast is topped off with one of Marvel’s most memorable performances from Tom Hiddleston, as Thor’s adopted brother Loki, who returns from his appearance in “Thor” to serve as the exceptionally British and charming primary antagonist. The alien invasion of New York, led by Loki, is one of the most impactful moments in the MCU and perhaps the greatest moment of character growth for Tony Stark, who is one of the giants that the franchise so heavily relies upon.
The action is riveting and brilliantly choreographed. The dialogue is witty and the chemistry between each actor is palpable. What began as a major risk to produce such a large budget film with unprecedented circumstances turned into one of the most important cinematic achievements in recent memory.
7. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Full disclosure: on an earlier draft I had relegated “Spider-Man 2” to Honorable Mentions limbo. But after vigorous negotiations with a group of rabid, concerned citizens over a several tacos and margaritas, I have succumbed to political pressure and made this concession. It is not that I don’t like this film (I had it at the unofficial 11-spot before those meddling kids intervened), it is just that the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy doesn’t connect with me on a personal level the way some other films do. But I have seen the light, and while it might not be my particular favorite, I would be ignoring an objective titan of the genre and that would be irresponsible.
“Spider-Man 2” is a superhero film that was made before the rise of the MCU, and if you pay attention to the release dates, it is the oldest film on this list. Being the geriatric patient of the group, this film does not have many models to imitate, so instead it needed to innovate. An issue of early superhero films is that they created many of the clichés we see in the genre as a whole, and with the exception of Magneto in the “X-Men” franchise, there were not many deep or complex supervillains on the silver screen. That is, until Alfred Molina showed us his version of Doctor Otto Octavius.
Doc Ock is one of the earliest sympathetic supervillains we’ve seen in film, breaking the mold and setting a standard for many films to come. He is a man tortured by his own creation and ambition and makes for a compelling nemesis for Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker, both mentally and physically. Meanwhile, Peter has a mental crisis of his own, even losing his powers due to his inability to cope with the struggle of sacrificing so much of who he is as a person to be Spider-Man. The film gives us the main two characters as reluctant participants in their own schemes, and the conclusion where Peter is finally able to break through to Doc Ock’s fading humanity is incredibly satisfying and legendary for superhero movies.
No entry about this film would be complete without mention of the most iconic scene: where Spider-Man has to use all of his strength to stop a runaway train full of passengers. After the train is stopped and the passengers see Peter underneath the mask, they all realize that he is just a kid who is willing to die to protect them. It is a very touching scene and a major reminder of the humanity of this story. That is without question what makes this film standout among the plethora of films in this genre.
6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Dare I say it? This is the best Spider-Man film ever created. Considering how popular Spider-Man is as a character and how long they’ve been making movies about him, it is very impressive to be the cream at the top. I watched this with my dad and his words to me right be fore we entered the theater were “Wait. This isn’t a kids movie is it?” Oh, poor, sweet, innocent, naïve, uniformed, ignorant, dad. How foolish you were to be afraid. For anyone who cares, he actually really loved the film and he was pretty forward that he went in with a closed mind, for what that’s worth.
Being an animated feature, “Spider-Verse” has much more freedom to explore creative mediums of storytelling that would not translate as well into live-action, such as the brilliant inclusion of Spider-Ham, voiced by John Mulaney, which is a character that proudly embraces its cartoon status to tremendous comedic returns. The whole film looks like a living comic book panel, which is objectively very beautiful to watch. Especially when viewed in IMAX, the whole film is breath taking to see.
As I write this, I am getting crucified by my friends who think I am a traitor for putting this film over “Spider-Man 2”. But I will not cease! I stand by my pick with a proud, up-thrust bosom and a steady hand. I am ready to die for this pick. What are your plans tonight, boys?
Back to what I was saying about the film. Embracing the animated aspects of the film allows for the story to focus on shifting dimensions without seeming out of place or too wacky. Also, by centering around Miles Morales as the primary Spider-Man, rather than Peter Parker as we are so used to, we get a different perspective to view a hero that has seen a lot of mainstream mileage. We are given a myriad of possibilities as to what it means to be Spider-Man, all with complex backstories that are not usually afforded to ensemble films, let alone animated ones. The film also sports a series of creative twists to familiar characters that work effectively in keeping stories fresh.
The task that the film was burdened with of providing a different avenue for Spider-Man to thrive in a world where we have seen so many mainstreams takes on the character already exists is somewhat of an underappreciated factor. What we have is an adaptive yet original story with tons of humor and a lot of heart. You know how much I love stakes, and “Spider-Verse” has got those too. I know my friends have disowned me, but I will not concede my pick to the mob and if I have to, I will go down in a blaze of glory with “Spider-Verse”!
5. Deadpool (2016)
I think we need a soft-landing spot on some fat, juicy common ground. Nothing too controversial here, unless you count the actual content of the movie itself. At least I know everyone loves this film, because what is not to love about it?
I’ll be damned if Ryan Reynolds is not the most charming asshole to ever grace our screens. He’s definitely in the elite category with George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, and Hugh Jackman. These guys could just stare at me with a smile and I would be quite satisfied for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Anyways, Reynolds is the perfect incarnation of the character (we wont talk about the time he played Deadpool in “The Wolverine” because that never happened). He’s a jackass that is surprisingly sympathetic considering just how unapologetically violent he is. Perhaps the greatest deliverer of witty one-liners that has ever walked this desolate blue rock, Reynolds is able to turn this film into a genuine top-tier comedy with great action.
“Deadpool” wasn’t technically the first R-rated superhero film, but it was the first one that attempted to be a blockbuster with mainstream appeal. Because executives at FOX did not know if audiences would turnout for an ultra-violent, hyper-profane adventure, they did not give it much of a budget. As a result, the film was sort of a Ryan Reynolds passion project, where he was so dedicated to getting the character just right, and the end result is inarguably perfection.
I genuinely wish more films would take risks like “Deadpool” did. It is so curious to me why studios fear something new when the best films we have are those who do things we haven’t seen before. Also, why don’t more films break the fourth wall? It’s an easy trick and it rarely fails to get the reaction it is looking for. Just food for thought.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Talk about unexpected gems. I remember distinctively telling people that I had no intention of seeing this film upon its release. The trailers made it look so goofy and I was feeling Marvel was growing a bit stale at the time. If there was ever a time to take a break and catch my breath, a film about a bunch of random people who I never heard of seemed like the ideal time to do it. But then everyone else saw it and loved it, and I’ll admit that my curiosity was piqued. I had to see what all the hoopla was about, and on a rare win for the public, they were right about this film and I was wrong.
It is a true testament to the writing of this film that a bunch of no names were able to lead a film into the upper echelon of superhero films of a very saturated field. But now, everyone knows Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and of course Groot. They are household names straight from obscurity. Each one of the heroes was played perfectly by their actors and they all have exceptional chemistry with one another.
What the film really is though, is a fun time. There are relatively tense moments, but the film is just a wild sci-fi adventure with a fun 80s soundtrack and amazing dialogue. Everything is fulfilling and nobody leaves the theater in a bad mood. There is nothing to debate as far as quality goes.
What is most underrated about the film though is that it created a new story in the MCU that rarely has any Earth presence, meaning the types of adventures that this crew can have is not limited to the consequences of the other stories, while still simultaneously having the ability to interact with them. It’s a brilliant addition that came from a risk that paid off big time.
3. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
This one still blows my tiny little brain. I was expecting something big, but it would have been criminally unfair of me to expect anything on this scale. “Avengers: Infinity War” is the largest cinematic feature in history, to date. Other films might have been longer but no film has ever combined so many different properties and combined them into such a widespread and functioning story. I had my doubts that a venture of this magnitude could even succeed. How could that many characters all share the same screen and get appropriate amount of time for them all to serve a real purpose? This is how.
Somehow this behemoth balances major character arcs as well as the addition of the first real appearance of the central villain of the entire franchise. You can understand why I was nervous, because that is a major task to take on. So, what did it do right? Well, Thanos is one of the finest additions to the MCU imaginable. What could have just been a simple premise of an uber-powerful purple god hellbent on destruction ended up being a layered character of complex motivations, who has lived a life of heartbreak and sacrifice. It is one thing most people in the audience did not see coming. We would have all been satisfied if he was simply charismatic and powerful. Motivations were not really a necessity for Marvel villains at that point. But goddamn were we blown away.
Furthermore, it is always fun to see characters interact with new friends and foes. To see Dr. Strange team up with Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy is something that I once only considered possible in a video game or in the panels of a forgotten comic. Also, seeing sexy, depressed, bearded Steve Rogers kick ass was awesome. On an unimportant side note, I am sad that he is shown to have shaved in the “Avengers: Endgame” trailer.
But the lasting legacy of this film is obviously the snap. In what is unquestionably the most single devastating moment in my life, Thanos’s snap to wipe out half of all life, including major heroes that I love like family, especially after it appeared Thor saved the day at the last minute, is a real hefty kick to the gonads. I am still not over it, and even if “Avengers: Endgame” solves this, the pain of witnessing Spider-Man turn to dust in Tony Stark’s arms will never leave me.
2. Logan (2017)
If I haven’t made it clear yet, I favor superhero films that focus on personal journeys and growth over epic final showdowns with giant CGI space lasers. That is not to say those films are bad (Hell, I put a few of them on the list), but something about a human struggle in a world of mystic powers feels special to me, especially for so long the big appeal for the genre was the flashy powers. Films that break this mold have a uniqueness about them that I fear does not get enough love by my fellow nerds.
Sure, “Logan” is not a film about world ending alien threats but it is something that this genre has not seen before. This film is the realistic, western finale to the life of Wolverine, and the run of Hugh Jackman playing the role. I have taken a lot of unnecessary hard stances on this list for the sake of being difficult and stubborn, but when I say that I believe this is the most personal story in the entire genre’s repertoire, I stand by that wholeheartedly.
Maybe others don’t appreciate what I do about “Logan”. Maybe it is a niche of the genre that I am overvaluing, but I cannot get past how much this film makes me feel when I watch it. If this is just unique to me, so be it.
Hugh Jackman so perfectly portrays the atrophy of Logan that I, as the viewer, feel his pain. His loneliness, his frustration, and his love for Charles Xavier are poignant aspects of his character that totally drive the film. And when he finally learns to connect with Laura, it feels like a genuinely earned relationship. There is just an omnipresent feeling of immanent loss, of life, love, and purpose that follows him throughout the story that you almost feel relieved when he finally passes. He finally has peace.
What the writers did with Charles Xavier is also very creative. What happens when the man with the most powerful brain starts to lose his mind? Patrick Stewart’s swan song as Professor X is equally as heartbreaking as Jackman’s. Watching him have to apologize to the people in the casino after an involuntary seizure caused his psychic powers to harm everyone is devastating, as you see an old man come to grips with the fact that he is unintentionally dangerous and there is nothing he can do about it. And when he finally remembers that it was his first seizure that was responsible for killing everyone he loved, I definitely cried.
Everything that happens in the story feels real and is one of the rare films that the viewer can truly connect with. It is exciting at times, but it realistically is a tough watch considering how somber and depressing the story is. Maybe you do need to have a preference for that niche to appreciate “Logan” the way I do, but the film speaks to me in such a way that it has to be this high up on my list.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Yeah, I know I don’t shut up about this film. It is only my third Top 10 list, and on all three, an entry from this film finished in the top 2. You can say I have a closed mind, but I will tell you that I have no reason to deny greatness when I see it. “The Dark Knight” is the magnum opus of superhero films and you can take that to the bank.
In what is a mind-bending mix of detective drama, psychopathic character studies, and action-packed spy movies, “The Dark Knight” sets a bar for superhero films that I do not believe will ever be reached again. I do not doubt that there will eventually be a movie worthy of overtaking it, but it seems very unlikely that it would be able to recreate the magic and expectation-shattering legacy of “The Dark Knight”.
This film sports one of the greatest villains in all of cinema. The Joker is a character that is fueled by chaos but is incredibly calculating in his execution. He is a man that has a logical ideology that he follows, but is so mysterious that you are never quite sure if he means anything of what he says or does. The scariest part is that he even makes sense sometimes.
The character of Harvey Dent is often not appreciated enough because it is overshadowed by the Joker. Harvey undergoes the most palpable character arc in the film, starting as Gotham’s white knight and ending as a madman on a killing spree obsessed with 50/50 random chance, the same odds that disfigured him and killed the love of his life.
The subtlety and nuance used in creating characters is what drives the film, and none are as important as Bruce Wayne. Aside from his scratchy voice, which was way better in “Batman Begins”, Christian Bale progresses with the roles of both Bruce and Batman to both of their breaking points. We learn what sacrifices are heroic and how much are you willing to be responsible for if it means doing what is right in the long term. There are serious moral quandaries presented to us through Batman’s interactions with the Joker that I guarantee we still could not get a consensus as to the correct way to handle it.
I have to applaud Christopher Nolan for creating so many layers to so many of his characters here. The story of Batman has been explored through so many on screen incarnations, it is so difficult to imagine a new way to go about executing a story. But Nolan did it, and like I said before, it is still the gold standard.
someone please tell Dr. Phil to cut it out? I have no way of getting in contact
with him but he is a reoccurring dream antagonist of mine and I think it’s time
he and I aired out our dirty laundry.
matter the situation, it seems like clockwork I have a dream every month where
the TV doctor and his patronizingly bushy mustache enter my dream like some
kind of Scary Terry wannabe and makes my life a living Hell. He has fulfilled
many different roles, ranging from school guidance counselor that is a
chaperone on a field trip to a zoo, to a life guard at a community pool that
resembles the backyard of one of my friends from childhood’s house. In every
dream, the bald so-called psychologist just jumps out of nowhere to offer his
unsolicited opinion about my actions. So what if I happen to be eating my
backpack or deciding to fly out of a school bus. What gives this man the right
to come into MY dreams and tell me how I should behave?
Now, my hands aren’t clean here. I love telling people what I think about nonsense. But dammit, I thought dreams were off limits. Is nothing sacred anymore? I yearn for a simpler time. A time when Mr. Phil (YEAH THAT’S RIGHT! I CALLED HIM MR.) reserves his opinions on mentally unstable people who love to exploit their own issues for momentary pity fame for the 3 o’clock EST time bracket on CBS during my mom’s after work naps. At least then I know your mustache can’t find me if I don’t turn on the TV.
be real here: we’ve all been subjected to Dr. Phil’s brutal rampages of
condescending guidance for too damn long. WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY! Stay out of my
dreams you bald southern maniac. We know dumbass Stacey is acting irresponsibly
for hiding her gambling addiction from her husband and that Frank pretending to
be a superhero every night is not exactly ideal for a functioning member of
society, but I don’t need you to tell me that I do not have the freedom to run
around a pool in my own dream. Get off your high horse and go back to being
that weird meme where your face is superimposed over a green M&M. I WILL NO
LONGER LIVE IN FEAR OF YOU AND THE BROOM THAT IS GROWING OUT OF YOUR UPPER LIP!
So now that “Captain Marvel” has been released to the public, we have been given a bevy of information with regards to the greater MCU. The film, which serves as a prequel to most of the Marvel films and the Avengers Initiative, fills in the gaps of speculative information that fans have long been curious about, as well as posing new questions that will likely be answered in only a month’s time with the debut of “Avengers: Endgame”. Having said that, I understand the shelf-life for this post’s relevancy is quite limited, especially considering I am writing it before the website is officially published. At least this could end up being a fun time capsule to see how smart I thought I was.
Unlike my review of the film, this discussion will dive into the tedious world of spoilers and speculation. With that, I am cleared of any and all potential legal wrongdoing that is associated with being an ass that ruins things for people.
So, with that, let’s begin.
COULD CAROL DUNK ON THANOS?
This is a great place to start our discussion, as Marvel executive Kevin Feige has claimed that Carol Danvers is the strongest character in the MCU, and her inclusion in the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” has created much speculation that she will be brought in to clean up the Avengers’ mess. If she is really the most powerful character, she should simply show up, throw hands with Thanos, and everything will be fixed. At least, that is how many fans have interpreted Feige’s statement.
Well, aside from how obviously terrible that story would be, “Captain Marvel” seems to have given us enough information as to just how powerful Carol really is and whether or not she will save the day with her unstoppable unstoppableness. First off, do we really think Marvel, a franchise that has built an empire on purely entertaining films about relatable and compelling superheroes, will close off their most ambitious project to date by introducing a character that will simply out-muscle their problems? Like I said, that would be a strangely bad story for Marvel to produce at any point, let alone the singular climax of the franchise.
On top of that, there have been reports that “Avengers: Endgame” will exceed 3 hours of runtime. Considering the post credit scene from “Captain Marvel” shows Carol meeting up with the Avengers on Earth in what I can only assume is still fairly early in Endgame’s runtime, it would seem unlikely that she just shows up, kicks ass like its nothing, then bails to have more unseen space adventures. So, perhaps her singular impact was overblown by misinterpretation of Feige’s words.
Now, that is not to say that Carol isn’t crazy powerful. She is likely the most powerful Avenger, if not tied with Thor with Stormbreaker. She will likely act as one of the team’s heavy hitters against Thanos, and that is ok. It doesn’t break continuity to have an absurdly powerful character in a world of thunder gods and green rage monsters. The good news is, we have been given enough information in “Captain Marvel” to realistically understand just how powerful Carol is and how she could stack up against other heroes and villains in the franchise.
It is shown that Carol gets her powers from absorbing the explosion of her mentor, Mar Vel’s, lightspeed engine that was fueled by a power core from the Tesseract. This is basically all we need to know to understand what makes her tick as a superbeing.
The Tesseract has been around the MCU since “Captain America: The First Avenger”, where the evil Hydra was weaponizing its power under the direction of Red Skull. It was later revealed that the Tesseract was the body that houses the Space Stone, one of the six all powerful Infinity Stones. We’ve seen the Space Stone act independently a few times in the MCU, where it was shown to transport people across the universe instantaneously, such as Red Skull to Vormir to watch over the Soul Stone and Loki’s army to New York City in the first Avengers film. And considering Hydra was using it to power weapons and Carol uses it to power her photon blasts, the Stone is confirmed to be a wild energy source. There is no question that it is an immensely powerful artifact.
Because the rules of acquiring superpowers are very fluid, it is never fully understood what Carol did to gain her powers, but I am going to assume she just acted as a sponge and absorbed the explosion. In my mind, this gave her the power of the Space Stone within her body. We have no confirmation that this is exactly what is the case but we also have no reason to assume this is not what happened. So, she’s a pseudo-Space Stone in a living body, and I understand why the idea of that seems like the character is too overpowered to be compelling. However, we have already had a character that was fueled singularly by an Infinity Stone: The Vision.
The Vision is an android powered by the Mind Stone, and was seen to be exceptionally powerful and wise. While he was a major factor in defeating Ultron, another powerful android, he was not singularly the reason for the victory. And after that, Vision was not a one-man wrecking crew in any of his appearances. He was simply a powerful hero that had his niche when it called for it. And, let us not forget that Thanos literally ripped the Mind Stone out of his head to kill him. I look at Vision as the best reference point we have for how Carol would stack up one-on-one to Thanos.
But I am not done there. I am about to dive into the dark realm of simple math. I apologize in advance.
Do you know who also has the power of the Space Stone? Thanos. Yup, he has the real thing. Oh yeah, he also has 5 other Infinity Stones too. 6 is more than 1, at least the last time I checked. Assuming Carol is somehow stronger than Vision because of some corny BS about the human spirit or whatever, the most conservative of estimates say he is at minimum 4 and a half Infinity Stones more powerful than her. I mean, the big purple dinosaur did just snap his fingers and kill half of everything everywhere. Methinks we don’t need to worry about her being too powerful. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT FURY’S EYE?
We finally got the backstory as to why Nick Fury wear that eye patch, and to my disappointment, it was not because he secretly wanted to be a pirate but his unsupportive parents pushed him into military service, the eye patch serving as a painstaking reminder of the childhood that was taken away from him, as it just sits there, menacingly on his face, tormenting him in the rotting pit of his soul. A real missed opportunity for character development if you asked me.
What little information we knew prior to “Captain Marvel” was that Fury said he lost his eye because he decided to trust someone and it came back to bite him. A very general backstory that served its purpose well enough. I am sure a lot of people were eagerly awaiting seeing the actual situation that led to the dismemberment of a young Samuel L. Jackson’s pretty face on screen. I, however, was not one of those people.
As you may know by now, I am a big Star Wars fan, and an area of film that Star Wars fan’s have a specific experience in is the execution of prequel films. While seeing the events that were only mentioned before can provide a sense of closure and realism in a fictional world, it does eliminate a sense of mystery that surrounded the reason the story was so compelling in the first place. In Star Wars, we have seen prequels tell us why Darth Vader fell to the Dark Side of the Force, and for a lot of the fan base, the canonical explanation that was given via the prequels was a less than satisfying one. The ideas we built in our head felt more fulfilling than the story that was considered official, and while the story has been greatly expanded in subsequent years to create a much more appropriate narrative, it doesn’t change the fact that there is something about the mystery of the ominous villain in all black that can never truly be recaptured. Similarly, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” did nothing but reveal details of stories about a character that were purposely enshrouded in mystery to create an intentionally unrealistic description of the character of Han Solo. Once we saw what Han actually did, him bragging and lying in the original films no longer has the same impact.
What “Captain Marvel” did with the story of Nick Fury’s eye is remove any and all mystery surrounding it. Maybe what he said was true. Maybe it wasn’t. We used to be able to speculate wildly. Now we’ve been given an answer and to many, the answer is unsatisfying because it did not match our expectations.
In the film, we saw Goose, an alien that looks like a cat, scratch his eye out. It was a funny moment until you really think about it. Something so impactful was relegated to a quick sight gag. What is worse is that in the earlier part of the film, Fury was involved in a car wreck because his partner, a young Agent Phil Colson, was actually a Skrull in disguise and they were brawling while driving a car. After the accident, it is revealed that Fury needed stitches above his eye, however, it was only used as a tease. This scene fits he criteria of trusting someone and it being his undoing, but as a way of subverting expectations, the film brushes past this opportunity in favor of a joke later on.
But have no fear people, for I come bearing a solution! Ignore it! It actually does not change a thing if you don’t accept it. Goose scratches his eye out after the main conflict ends. It was like the filmmakers almost forgot to show it, panicked, and threw it in at the end. Or they just wanted the entire film to show a young Samuel L. Jackson with an unobstructed face and I personally cannot blame them for wanting that. But that means it had zero impact of the plot. The important thing is that he lost his eye, and the film already gave us a better moment in the car crash. So, like I said, your best move is to ignore it and pretend he lost his eye when the Skrull impersonated Colson. It fits better and does not change the meaning of anything that happened on screen. There is no rule saying you cannot make your own personal retcon to a story, and there is no better time than at this inconsequential juncture.
In the end, I personally do not care about how his eye was lost. I never wanted to see him lose it, and if the film decided to omit that moment in his character’s growth and relegate it to an offscreen moment, as it was, I would have been ok with it. Even if it is unsatisfying that he got it scratched out by a cat, it doesn’t bother me because it never bothered me how he actually got it. He uses it to remind himself and others not to blindly trust anyone, and that won’t change because of this.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
It is no secret that the MCU is about to host some major changes to the status quo. I mean, technically major changes already happened when major heroes such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Dr. Strange were dusted into oblivion, but none of those felt destined to be permanent. To be real, I think everyone truly believed that those who survived Thanos’s snap were actually in more danger than anyone who was taken out. With that in mind, all of the original Avengers are still kicking which means their time is potentially up, not to mention the fact that many of the stars have expiring contracts that have not been renewed. It may be that we are about to see the last of team leaders Iron Man and Captain America after the conclusion of “Avengers: Endgame”.
With what seems like an imminent power vacuum on the horizon, many assume that Carol will step up and fill the need for leadership. Well, that is what we’ve been told at least. But do we really feel as though that is rightfully her position to take?
I will admit, a lot of this speculative discussion is based on the idea that specific people kick the bucket in “Endgame”, but some seem like safer bets than others. For the sake of this discussion, let us assume that Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are the only two of the original Avengers to die in the upcoming film. How does Carol fit into the hierarchy of authority in the Avengers’ world?
Honestly, her case is not that strong at the moment. The way things currently lineup, she has zero relationship with anybody on Earth other than Nick Fury, who is currently deceased; Maria Rambeau, whose whereabouts are unknown but she also would have aged over 20 years since their last encounter meaning she is almost in her 60s even if she is alive; and Monica Rambeau, who is also unaccounted for. If she would take over leadership duties, she would essentially be usurping many more senior members, which does not feel right.
What we do not know, however, is what Carol does in “Endgame” and how her status with the team changes over the course of the film. In fact, it will be curious to see how Carol’s relationship with the planet Earth evolves. She was willing to leave it for almost 20 years to handle the Kree and Skrull conflict. Has Earth become her priority now? Only time will tell.
If I had a vote for who should take over leadership duties in this situation it would easily be Black Widow. She has proven that she is a master strategist and has earned the trust of every single member of the Avengers. She is a founding member that has held her own against threats that realistically are way outside of her paygrade. It is hard to argue that there is anyone who is more of a leader on the team than her. Regardless of what Carol does, if Black Widow survives, I fully expect her to have a de facto co-leader status. Natasha being at the head of the team flows so well in the context of the narrative that has been built over the course of the past decade.
But Carol most similarly parallels Captain America’s, or Steve Rogers’s, journey. Aside from the obvious fact that they are both military captains, they both had an origin story centered around the great power of the Tesseract in a different time period, where they have both been given superhuman abilities that help them overcome obstacles in their ability to help people. Hell, their costumes are even the same color. It does not take a psychic to see what is likely happening here. One captain will step in and fill the void left by the previous one.
It is all of our hope that Carol will bond with the team and not act so alien towards them. She needs to earn her spot, beyond her ability to shoot photons from her fists. It is really unfair of my or anyone to say that Carol will just commandeer the Avengers when she arrives. We have to give her the opportunity to organically grow into her role and we’ve only seen her interact with the Avengers for 3 seconds in a post credit scene. We should not rush to judgement but we should not sacrifice standards.
An interesting possibility for Carol would be if her niece, Monica, came and helped the Avengers in some way. Monica, who was only 11 years old in “Captain Marvel”, would be in her early 30s in “Avengers: Endgame”, and assuming she survived, she could have grown up into a useful addition to the team. This would also provide for an important personal connection to the team that Carol was lacking prior, and it would make her adoption of the Avengers and Earth feel much more natural. It would be an interesting option for Marvel, and the way Monica was written in “Captain Marvel”, she is primed to grow up eager to help her Auntie Carol in any way she can.
There certainly is room to maneuver for Carol on this front. Just because she is new does not mean she can’t earn her leadership amongst the team. Marvel has always done an exceptional job giving characters and roles meaning. I seriously doubt that they will stop that trend now. It is simply a matter of which route they take to achieve their goals and I am excited to see what they have got up their sleeves.
“Captain Marvel” has been subjected to an immense amount of prejudice by rabid “fans” with regards to its social message affecting its content. While the idea of a super hero being a woman is not new, having a major super hero blockbuster film be led by a woman is bordering on unchartered territory, and for some reason, it is still a valid question to ask as far as whether or not we are ready for that as a society. Well, if the box office returns are any indication, everyone was at least a little curious about this film.
This review will be a little different. I won’t address any spoilers but I will talk about a greater impact the film has. Consider it a review mixed in with a discussion. Usually you’ve got to pay double for that kind of hot ménage à trois action.
“Captain Marvel” is the origin story for the hero of the aforementioned name. You watch her start out as a soldier-in-training, named Vers, and later discovered Carol, for the Kree, a self-described race of alien “noble warrior, heroes”, who are at war with the Skrull, an alien race of shapeshifters that infiltrate societies in secret, and see her try to protect Earth all while trying to recover memories from her past along the way. Pretty by-the-book stuff but it’s all fun. Like Kramer said “It’s the 90’s. It’s Hammer time!”.
The plot is not what keeps the film afloat. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t atrocious. It even has a very satisfying reveal that few Marvel movies have been able to pull off. But there are a lot of generalities in execution that are very reminiscent of Marvel’s formulaic phase, where all of their films felt like a rehash of similar stories just to introduce new characters. “Captain Marvel” is not of the copy-and-paste variety that we have seen, but in a lot of ways it just feels similar to what we’ve already seen. A testament to this is that other than Carol and Nick Furry (Samuel L. Jackson), I left the theater not remembering anyone else’s name. These other characters play roles, especially Ben Mendelsohn’s surprisingly layered character, but you really get the feeling that their impact won’t be felt in most films beyond this one. Seriously, Jude Law’s character was so forgettable that I actually forgot Jude Law’s real name for about 5 minutes after the film (true story).
It may not be Marvel’s magnum opus but it never was supposed to be. “Captain Marvel” was created with an unfair handicap being that it was a prequel film to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. Being set in the 1990s, the film had to contort itself to fit in with the preexisting canon established by films such as “Captain America: The First Avenger” as well as all the films that take place in modern times. Nothing that happens in this film could be too big of an event that it would not have been mentioned in any other film, yet so insignificant that Captain Marvel’s importance would be diminished in future appearances. It also had the dubious task of explaining where the hell she’s been since the 90s, especially when the world was nearing its end a handful of times between then and Thanos’s snap in “Avengers: Infinity War”. Basically, the film wasn’t aiming for the top on purpose because it couldn’t be so grand and make sense in the grand scheme. That’s not to say the quality has no room for realistic improvement, but we were never going to get a de-facto Avengers-level film here, as much as a character introduction story.
What the film thrives on is entertainment. It is a lot of fun. This is due to a great performance by Brie Larson in the lead role. She is very funny, personable, and relatable, and her on-screen chemistry with male lead Samuel L. Jackson is a joy to watch. You really get the feeling that they are genuine friends with each other (which they are) and they work very well together. Also, her powers, while exceptionally strong, are understandable and do not feel like she is an unstoppable cheat code that cannot be beaten. She is strong, but Larson does a very good job portraying enough personal vulnerability to make her a reasonable figure. You believe she can achieve anything, but you still believe something within the realm of possibility in the film could defeat her if she is not careful. This is an important trait for any compelling protagonist to have because it creates stakes in the narrative, but this film in particular needed it because of all the prejudice aimed at it.
So, the reason people were, let’s say, divided on this film before its release was there was so much fear from a group of “marginalized” viewers who were sick of feminist messages propagating their innocent films of interstellar genocide. “Captain Marvel” seemed like a film ripe for this message to dominate its narrative because the main character is a female and Brie Larson erroneously claimed that women could feel empowered by a character like her. She basically wants the terrorists to win. Having endured the propaganda myself, I can bring everyone good news! The film doesn’t drown you in this message. You are going to be fine if you sit there and watch it. No, it won’t turn you into a woman. You’re going to be ok, I promise. We can even get you a lollipop for being such a big boy, champ.
The film only mentions Carol’s experiences as a woman being used against her for maybe 5 total minutes, and even then, it is only used in conjunction with other times she was told she couldn’t do something for other reasons, all just to show that she learned to pick herself back up. In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, far more time and energy is dedicated to Steve Rogers being too small to serve in the military than is given to Carol being a woman. The point of feminist empowerment does not come from her besting a man, but it comes just from her bettering herself and overcoming her own obstacles. She just happens to be a woman. So good news to anyone who was concerned that women might feel like they can beat a man in anything. You can rest easy knowing that you weren’t dunked on. Good thing no one overreacted before seeing the film, am I right?
For a less sarcastic take, I think the real-world message of female empowerment was executed very well. When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball, he was chosen because he would be the right player to do so. If he were to fail at any end, his detractors would use that against anybody else who would try to follow in his footsteps and the world would be increasingly hostile to change of that nature. “Captain Marvel” was given the burden of filling the Jackie Robinson role for the MCU and making sure the first female-led film of the franchise could handle itself in a society that had many rooting for it to fail. It needed to prove that not only could it succeed, but others like it too. I can wholeheartedly say that it does succeed. It is a testament that Carol can be a character that is strong without simply being a Mary Sue that cannot be beaten. Some people will never accept this but females can be powerful without being forced and unrealistic. I mean, characters like Thor and Captain America have been shown to be almost perfect throughout the past 10 years to zero complaints. Captain Marvel is in that upper echelon of power tier and that works. There are ways to be a threat to a powerful character beyond brute strength and the way Carol was written shows that the writers are planning on using her in that route. It’s almost like women are just people like you and me. Crazy concept, I know.
In the end, I feel like any fan who went to see the film with even a semi-open mind got what they wanted out of this film. We were introduced to an interesting new character that is fun to watch, all while expanding the lure of the franchise and providing a message to people that is wholesome and executed with enough subtlety that your face won’t melt off.
There is far more to discuss about this film too, as far as spoilers and what they signal for the future of the MCU, but that might be for a different post. But luckily for everyone, “Avengers: Endgame” is a mere month away from releasing and there does not seem to be too much time for paranoid speculation from hereon out.
I give this film a decent 8.2 out of 10.
Directed by: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 2 Hours and 4 Min
As a devout Christopher Nolan fanboy, one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made in my meaningless life was choosing which Nolan epic I would review first. If you have read any of my first two Top 10 Lists, you’ll know I have a particular affinity for “The Dark Knight”, however “The Prestige” was streaming on my flight home from New York the other day so the decision sort of made itself. (The person next to me vomited on me during the landing so hopefully that wont play into my reactions.)
“The Prestige” is a film about two dueling magicians who engage in a rivalry of fantastic showmanship and obsession. Robert “The Great Danton” Aniger (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred “The Professor” Borden (Christian Bale) begin the film as understudies to Cutter (Michael Caine) and each progressively try to outdo each other with newer, more ambitious illusions. But what starts as trying to best their rival, snowballs into different forms of sabotage and aggression, where victory must be achieved at all costs, even if they cannot rise to the occasion with their own tricks.
One of the film’s greatest strengths is that it follows its own rules to illusions. Nolan takes a partial non-linear approach to telling this story. We are given flashbacks and cutaways, and while it is obvious that they all aren’t happening at the same time, we aren’t truly told which happened first until the third act. But there is enough information available that you could piece together the tricks of the mind he is pulling, but only if you knew what to look for. Just like a trick in the film, the audience is misdirected with flashier details to conceal how the true “magic” happens. When I write this, it sounds cheap, but in reality, it is the very point of the film. Nolan creates a movie about magic by using magic.
We are told from the beginning that Borden is on trial for the murder of Angier as part of a sabotage-gone-too-far, and Cutter is forced to tell the judge all about the two men and the ridiculous contraptions they used to create their illusions. Michael Cain has a way about him that when he explains something, it always sounds deep and enchanted, making his casting as a man who creates magic tricks for performers a brilliant choice.
The two leads are brilliantly acted by Jackman and Bale. I find it humorous that Jackman is presented as the morally superior protagonist to Bale’s backstabbing antagonist when in reality, both of them are so far detached from humanity and lack any semblance of empathy. Both perform dubious, petty, and likely illegal acts on each other to get the upper hand, but goddamn if Jackman isn’t a charming bastard, I do not know anyone else who is. I mean, he kidnaps and buries a man alive to get a diary that doesn’t belong to him and it is just brushed over like it is nothing. But he does it all so handsomely.
As far as character building goes, both leads have enough personal connections to make their motivations understandable before they totally go off the deep end. Borden accidentally killed Angier’s wife during a trick, and Angier shot off Bordon’s fingers. The only sensible way to get through that is with stage magic. Perhaps it is the point all along to watch them go from reasonably motivated to clinically psychotic to show just how consuming and competitive the world of magic is, or more realistically, how powerful obsession can change who you are as a person.
The film relies on two major twists in what manifests into reveals of who the two leads pulled off their greatest tricks, and personally, only one really works for me. Both provide a decent experience within the film, but only Borden’s trick is truly revealed to be clever and reasonable within the world that is setup. Not that Angier’s isn’t fascinating, but it changes our understanding of what we thought was allowed about midway through the film, which leaves an unsatisfactory taste in my mouth. While we are provided with more information with regards to the story of how Angier learned his trick, which includes a fun performance from the late David Bowie as Nikola Tesla and the rare Andy Serkis character not in motion capture pajamas, it does not show us how Angier out planned Bordon, rather how he just made his own rules.
And perhaps that is why Bale’s Bordon is more compelling to me as a character. Throughout the entire film, he is presented as the magician that is willing to take more risks and has a far more astute eye for magic. He does not need assistance in creating his master trick, whereas Angier does. It just seems that he is always a step ahead of Angier, and whereas he is at his best when he uses his brain, Angier is at his best when he puts on a show. And even when it appears he lost because he is in jail for Angier’s murder, the film makes you aware that maybe he is still in control of the situation.
Unfortunately, there really are not any compelling females in this film. Scarlett Johansson’s Olivia Wenscombe gets the most screen time and she has a convincing enough British accent, but she, like every other woman in the film, is just a prop for the male leads to use for motivation or a side love-story that will ultimately end in betrayal and really takes away from the story. Minor roles are important but I believe she could have been more versatile than she was, especially since they began to tease her as someone with a deeper understanding of performing, but do not really build on it enough for anyone to care. Instead, she is just a seductive object that the two magicians use to put on a magic show, which is a big disappointment.
What “The Prestige” comes down to is entertainment. It is a film about two showmen who do in fact, put on quite the show for their audience. The stories of competition and obsession are compelling, but the film’s legacy is built on its display of magic and wonder. It’s ability to make you feel as though you are sitting in the stage theater with the on-screen audience is alluring and most perfectly encapsulates the mystic that Nolan was trying to create. It is not perfect but it is objectively good and everyone watching will be thoroughly interested and mystified. What more can you ask for from a film?
I would rate this film a decent 8.1 out of 10
Directed by: Christopher Nolan Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Cain, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Andy Serkis Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Mins
If you are alive, you probably are aware that multibillion-dollar company and conqueror of worlds, Disney, has bought the rights to Star Wars and has been producing new movies to the once dormant franchise. The new films have released to incredible box office success (with the obvious redheaded stepchild being “Solo: A Star Wars Story”) and generally positive critical reviews. And yet, there is a nerd civil war brewing within the fanbase the likes of which civilized society is woefully unprepared to endure. The problem? Well, critics seem to like the films, mostly, but the fans do not hold the same positive opinions of them.
Unfortunately, a real issue we have is that discussions of the film aren’t given the freedom to be explored. We have labeled each side with a quick generalization and refused to give either side any credence. The fans have been designated whiney fanboys who hate women and don’t like change, whereas Disney is this money hungry corporation hellbent on forcing a political agenda down people’s throat.
So, let’s be real here. Both sides have merits to their opinions, and both are totally out of control and uncivilized when it comes to discussing this. No film is without flaws, and to act like any criticism of a film is strictly because fans hate women is both irresponsible to make and simply untrue. On the flip side, acting as if Disney is creating these films as political propaganda is a lazy argument just because the main protagonist is a woman. Can we be reasonable and discuss the films for what they are?
Star Wars makes up roughly 82% of my blood. I am what people in the field of psychology would describe as “obsessed” and “a nerd”. Since I was in preschool, I have been a fan of Star Wars. There is a picture of me in my Pre-K class with my friend Jake, and I am wearing a green shirt with a B1 Battle Droid from the newly minted “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”, a movie that despite Jar Jar Binks, I actually love and appreciate for what it is and what it adds to Star Wars. I own several custom-made lightsabers, my most precious being Revan’s purple lightsaber from Knights of the Old Republic era, along with tons of books video games, and more LEGOs than a functioning adult should have. Do you get the picture yet? I love Star Wars.
I would like to offer my opinions of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. However, my feelings on “aesthetic” elements, such as visuals, choreography, humor, and music, I’d like to put to the side for now. Those factors can be subjective and just because I feel that they are unappealing does not mean someone else couldn’t feel the exact opposite. Just because I don’t enjoy something does not make it bad, necessarily. Instead, I am going to focus solely on storytelling, specifically if the story follows its own rules, if characters’ motivations are clear, and if elements flow together.
I guess now would be the ideal time to say I am remarkably disappointed in these new films from a structural standpoint. I am hopeful that my introduction has softened that blow enough that you are willing to listen to what I have to say.
SET UP FOR FAILURE
Disney was not shy in revealing that when they had purchased the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas in 2012, they wanted to separate themselves from his experimental prequel trilogy that had been so divisive with fans. Their goal was to recreate the magic of the original trilogy of the 1970s and 1980s that had such universal appeal to all audiences. Enter “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.
There is no secret, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (I am going to call the films TFA and TLJ from here on out) is essentially the original “Star Wars” with a fresh coat of paint. It’s not 100% the same but it is too similar to ignore. Now, that is not to say that the film is bad, it is just very unoriginal and safe. Disney knew how popular the first film was and looked to make sure their soft reboot would be financially successful by keeping the story as close to a sure thing as possible. (But, if you cheated off a person who got an A on a test, did you really get an A too or did you just duplicate someone else’s A? Food for thought.)
Most of the new characters introduced were interesting and compelling though. While a few had many similarities to older characters, much of their pasts were mysterious and fans were eager to learn more. There was a solid base in place after TFA to build upward from to create something new and compelling.
And then “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” happened…
TLJ is the oil to TFA’s vinegar. They simply do not mix. This trilogy that Disney is producing has a few fatal flaws that are most perfectly exposed by the juxtaposition of these two films, one of them being there is no substantial passage of time over the course of the duration of these two movies. Why is that a problem? If you are trying to tell two interconnected stories, without realistic time for character growth, it almost feels like events are being forced together without any explanation. How can you expect a character to undergo two separate arcs in what equates to essentially a week of in universe time?
For perspective, the original trilogy takes place over 4 years and the prequel trilogy takes place over 13 years. Meaning, once one film ends, there is a logical passage of time before the next film starts. In other words, the status quo has logical time to progress off screen in movies. You saw Anakin age 10 years in between films. He was primed for a new story to tell and was given enough time to process the experiences in his past and evolve from previous movies.
In the Disney trilogy, TFA ends and TLJ picks up immediately after that, which essentially makes it one continuous story, and not two interconnected stories. TLJ should really be TFA: Part 2. But that isn’t what TLJ is at all.
Here is the second fatal flaw. Disney did not have a full plan for the trilogy before they went into production. Better yet, they did not have a singular plan. TFA was written and directed by JJ Abrams but TLJ was written and directed by Rian Johnson. Other than notes about how TFA ended, Rian Johnson was given a blank canvas to create TLJ, and at this point I hope you see the point I am setting up. Rian Johnson is writing the second part to a story that JJ Abrams began.
Imagine having an idea for a story that you are so proud of. You have so many ideas and you are really excited about them. Now imagine you aren’t allowed to write the second part of it and instead someone you do not know gets to continue it, with the only knowledge they receive being where the characters are at the end of your part. Do you believe that narrative would be cohesive?
TFA and TLJ have very different tones from each other, and that’s a problem because the main conflict of TFA was still going on 10 minutes prior to TLJ starting. The characters haven’t been given a chance to grow and process the events that occurred yet, and are essentially still continuing the same battle.
Furthermore, questions and mysteries that JJ Abrams set up in TFA are now left to Rian Johnson to answer for him, in any way he sees fit. And unfortunately, Johnson was not very interested in the questions that Abrams posed. The story that his movie is physically touching follows rules and logic that differ from any that have come before it. It is because of this that TLJ does not fit.
All of that is an issue but I suppose it could be overcome with proper execution, meaning none of that guarantees failure on its own. But when it came down to it, TLJ’s execution was a fatal blow.
Let’s begin by addressing faults in the storytelling. The biggest one that circles the internet is Rey, her origins, and her abilities. TFA presents Rey as an abandoned loner waiting for her family on a forgotten desert world, until she meets Finn, a First Order Stormtrooper who deserted his post and crashed on her planet. They end up going on a reluctant adventure to save the Galaxy from the First Order’s plans, and along the way Rey discovers that she has Force powers.
Star Wars has always been a story about family. Rey was waiting for her family and we are not told who they are. This made Rey’s family an essential mystery to who her character is. If Rian Johnson wanted to make a character who was a “nobody” but became a hero, I would have no problems with it. In fact, I would applaud him for taking a path less traveled in the franchise. The problem is TFA just spent an entire +2-hour runtime introducing the mystery and its importance. When Rey’s parentage is ultimately revealed to be nobody of any significance, it is meant to be shocking, but ends up being lazy and cheap.
Rey’s incredible strength in the Force was also supposed to be explained by her parentage. Since she was essentially living as a recluse on a backwater scavenger planet with virtually no human interaction outside of thieves and fat aliens who sell instant-bread, her advanced powers in the Force are out-of-place. In the past, we have seen Anakin and Luke undergo Force training. They are a great reference point because they are explained to us as the two most naturally gifted Force-users in the Star Wars universe, and it took Anakin about 10 years to master the force, and Luke roughly 4 years. And both of them were under the tutelage of prominent Jedi Masters who gave them guidance and examples to follow. Rey had none of that and was already able to best the primary antagonist in TFA, and shown to be an equal in strength and combat ability again in TLJ. Mind you, there has been essentially only a week of in-universe time to lapse over the course of the two films. To many, including myself, Rey’s abilities needed an explanation or they represented a major inconsistency in the logic of the Franchise.
When Rian Johnson told us, the viewers, that Rey was from “nobody”, he essentially told us Rey is the way she is because she is Rey, and that will be all the explanation we need. The struggle that comes along with this is it is difficult to create a compelling and relatable protagonist that has no skill weaknesses. At no point in any of the films do you truly believe she is bound to lose. The closest we get is when she goes to try and turn Kylo Ren back to the light and is forced to confront Snoke, but I will get to this later.
In the previous two trilogies, the main protagonist, Anakin and Luke, suffer a chopped off right hand at the hands of the primary antagonist. This was used as a way of saying that the protagonist still had a way to go before they could matchup against their foes, and that their arcs are not yet completed. Rey escapes her encounter with Kylo and Snoke and does not sustain an injury. In fact, she leaves proving she is Kylo Ren’s equal already (Again, this is maybe one week after we are introduced to her and maybe 4 days since she learned what the force is).
Unfortunately, this point is always marred by claims of sexism directed towards the character of Rey. I hope this discussion isn’t bogged down by that and we can observe her as a character from an objective viewpoint.
Is there a possibility this explanation gets overridden in the next upcoming film, directed by JJ Abrams? Quite possibly. But for the moment the main character is just willfully unexplained anomaly.
Next, I’d like to discuss what is my personal biggest gripe with the films, and that is character motivations. This surprises me how little traction this issue has gotten when, to me, it is just so glaring.
The main characters of the trilogy are Rey, Kylo, and Finn. Finn is actually well written and I find him to be believable and compelling. I don’t think he is flawless, but you understand why he does what he does and feels the way he feels. In fact, if he had been allowed to complete his heroic sacrifice at the end of TLJ instead of forcing in an unnecessary kiss between two characters with no chemistry, he would have had an incredibly satisfying character arc. He would have learned courage and sacrificed himself for something greater. To his credit, he was in the process of doing just that until he was interrupted, so I am going to count it as a win for him.
As for Rey and Kylo, they are not blessed by being well written (I will say that they are well acted and the actors should be praised for that). Let’s start with Rey since we were just talking about her and there isn’t as much of a rant for her as there is for Kylo.
I’ve already discussed Rey’s family as an ignored focal point of her character, and how the lack of time lapse has made her growth seem illogical by the rules of the franchise. But now I would like to discuss her motivations as a flaw.
As I mentioned, Rey is an abandoned scavenger waiting for her family. She lives on Jakku, which is a desert wasteland. The society there is not very technologically advanced, and almost everything that they have is scavenged from crashed starships. No one is really in communication with the rest of the Galaxy and no one really seems to talk to each other unless it is about scavenging or food. It is pretty clear that Rey is not watching Galactic CNN and getting her news about the ongoing wars of the First Order and the Resistance either. She has likely zero exposure to the main conflict of the films prior to our introduction to her as a character. And that is a problem.
In the original trilogy, Luke was on a desert planet too, but it was occupied by the Galactic Empire. He lived through the struggle before we meet him. He knows about the rebellion because many of his friends have gone off to join them. He wasn’t a galactic recluse. He had a stake in the battle, even if he didn’t feel that strongly until the Empire killed his Aunt and Uncle. Rey not knowing about the conflict is signified by the fact that when she hears the name Han Solo, she only knows him as a smuggler and not a war hero.
So, the question I pose is how does she know what is morally the right side of the fight so quickly? Yes, Han and Finn tell her, but she grew up not trusting anybody on a world of thieves. Why does she trust these two random people that essentially fell out of the sky, whom almost got her killed within the first 10 minutes of knowing them and she met not two hours ago? The obvious answer is plot progression and do not think about it, and I can actually stomach that part. But then we get into TLJ again.
Her role in TLJ focuses mainly on interacting with Luke and Kylo. Kylo previously tried to torture and kill her, and did kill Han right in front of her, so it is understandable that she wasn’t too keen on believing him when he said the Jedi are bad. But then she meets Luke. And Luke spends the entire time with her trying to convince her that Kylo was right.
And she doesn’t believe him…
What makes her so sure that both of the people, who are clearly on opposite ends of the conflict she knew nothing about a week ago, are lying to her? How does she know better than them? Luke confirms that he tried to kill Kylo in his sleep. He confirmed that the Jedi were responsible for the rise of the Sith. And he confirmed what Kylo said in that the Jedi need to end for the sake of the Galaxy. Rey did not know anything about this a week ago, if I haven’t mentioned that before.
But fine, Rey picked her side and is sticking to it. Maybe I can live with it seeing as though I don’t see many other people having an issue with it. She is the main protagonist and the audience already knows she is supposed to be “the good guy”, so it just confirms expectations and that is enough for most people.
Kylo’s motivations are different than Rey’s. Kylo is presented as a character that was involved in the central conflict of the trilogy before we are introduced. He is well versed in what each side stands for and doesn’t rely on another character to provide information in order to adjust his allegiance. The first scene of the trilogy shows Kylo leading a First Order hit squad to massacre a village on Jakku in order to find a map that the Resistance has. He’s the bad guy just like that.
My issue is not that he is bad, it is that the filmmakers attempt to explain his motivations for doing so with exceptionally faulty reasoning, and I am baffled at the praise that is directed towards that faulty reasoning.
We are told on multiple occasions that Kylo was attacked by Luke in his sleep because Luke felt “the darkness” in him, whatever that means. Seriously, we don’t know what it is he felt. Considering the age of Kylo at the time, it honestly could have been nothing more than teenaged angst or the desire to burn aunts with a magnifying glass. But basically, Luke tried to assassinate his teenaged nephew in his sleep because of a gut feeling. That is ridiculous, but its honestly not even the point I am trying to make.
I’ll phrase my point in a reflective question: Can anybody tell me why Kylo is evil to begin with? I have not yet received an explanation that is satisfying. Most of them explain that he felt so betrayed by Luke and his family that he went to the First Order. But Kylo was only attacked by one man. He has every right to hate Luke. But he reacts to Luke trying to kill him by slaughtering children and destroying star systems. There seems to be a bit of a jump to me.
Another explanation I am given is that Snoke corrupted him, and to that I say “duh”. Of course, Snoke corrupted him, but with what? With fear? With promises of power? We aren’t given a real explanation for that. He is angry and therefore he is evil.
A major reason why this problem exists is because we know less than nothing about the First Order. They are essentially a carbon copy of the Galactic Empire from the original trilogy, with one key difference: The Empire was a government and the First Order isn’t. When the Empire is presented to us, our need for an explanation is not as great because their presence was established as a status quo from the moment the first film began. They needed to be overcome because they are an oppressive government and they want to preserve their power. It is simple and doesn’t require too much thought. Unfortunately for the writers, the Empire was defeated after “Return of The Jedi” and was no longer the established status quo. Instead, the “good guys” are the established power by the time TFA begins and the reason for this supposedly new threat, the First Order, is just treated as if they are the same thing as the Empire, when they aren’t. We are left to assume that the First Order has the same goals as the Empire. Afterall, their fleet consists of Tie Fighters and walkers just the same as the Empire. But if they are a lazy copycat, does that really result in an objectively good idea? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
When Luke defeats the Emperor and Darth Vader at the end of “Return of the Jedi”, the two heads and guiding forces of the Empire are gone, essentially signifying the end of the Empire as a whole. When TFA shows us the First Order, it is headed by Grand Master Snoke, a character we have never met before. We do not know how Snoke took control of the First Order. Did he create the organization? What are his goals for the organization? What does he want from Kylo? We are given this character and are expected to treat him like he is new but also the exact same as what came before him. And when Snoke was abruptly killed off in TLJ by Kylo (Spoiler Alert), his story ends without any of that information being answered, which is a monumental let down because Snoke was presented as a brand-new threat from a mysterious Unknown Region of space.
What is even worse is that Star Wars has created different villains than we have been given in other popular mediums. When Disney purchased Star Wars in 2012, they declared the old Expanded Universe of stories would retroactively become noncanonical so Disney could fill in their own Expanded Universe. As a fan of the old EU, this hurts but I understand it. Disney had a vision and they wanted the freedom to create their universe. But just because they no longer consider those old stories cannon does not mean they do not exist. And what is better, Disney still owns the rights to those stories (and sells them at book stores) so they have access to the information to use as influence to create their new universe.
In the old EU, there were a plethora of Sith and other antagonists that were compelled by more than just a quest for power. Some of these characters are so fondly remembered by fans for how unique and special they were in the Star Wars mythos.
One character in particular is Darth Bane, of whom a trilogy of novels was written about. His story was told as one where he, a Dark Lord of the Sith, is the protagonist, which is already a new approach. Darth Bane’s goals were first to reform the Sith by killing them all off. By doing so, he was able to put an end to the infighting and backstabbing that took place within the ranks of the Sith. He saw the value in only having two Sith at a time to keep order and infiltrate the Galaxy from the shadows. One Sith, the master, embodies power, and the other, the apprentice, craves power. This symbiosis keeps the flow of Sith knowledge constant from one generation to the next. His plans then go awry when his chosen apprentice does not seem up to the challenge of overthrowing him for the mantle of master, and so he then quests on for the knowledge to preserve his own life until he can find a proper successor. His motivations for his actions are not simply to gain more power. In fact, he openly accepts that he will not live to see the fruition of the execution of his own grand plan. His goals are knowledge and his motivations are preservation of beliefs.
Another character is Kreia, also known as Darth Traya. She was a complex character from the video game “Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords” who acted as both a mentor for the main character and the ultimate antagonist for the story. What makes Kreia so great is her wisdom. She preaches changes in perspective of the world, to understand how your actions echo onto those around you, and how to use this understanding to manipulate the Galaxy. While it is not revealed immediately that Kreia is also the mysterious Darth Traya, there is no real fundamental difference between the two aliases. Neither is power obsessed, standing in stark contrast to other Sith Lords. In fact, she claims she has no love for the Sith nor the Jedi. Her goal is to teach the main character to be able to think. She admits that there is no victory in winning without your opponent understanding. Her objective is actually to destroy the Force because she finds the fact that the Force has a will of its own that dominates the wills of individuals to be abhorrent. But when she is defeated in the end, she feels as though it is a victory because the protagonist finally learns the lessons she has trying to teach, and that she loved her for that. In my humble opinion, Kreia is the strongest character ever written in the entirety of the Star Wars mythos, both cannon and legends.
And in contrast with dark side characters like these, the simplicity of the end result of Snoke seems grossly negligent. Disney had the resources available to know that more complex villains could be written in Star Wars and chose to dumb it down and retread the same ground films from 30 years prior had already done. But we got what we were given and now, Kylo inherits the rank of main antagonist and the First Order follows him. But still to that moment, it is still just an evil organization that is evil because good is weak. We deserve better than that.
On the positive, there is actually a ton of potential for Kylo based on what is already established. Assume the explanation is nothing more than just “Kylo was lost and corrupted by his anger and that is why he joined Snoke”. Ok, Snoke is still a total waste but now, where Kylo stands at the end of TLJ is ripe for an actual philosophical agenda. Kylo hates the Jedi but he also hates Snoke and apparently the First Order too (even though he seized control). He tells Rey he wants to burn it all down and start over without all of this and that is what he should be doing. His whole life, he was treated as a tool by sides that betrayed him. Kylo has legitimate reasoning for becoming a radical anarchist (a friend of mine gave me this idea). It would be a fresh take on the Star Wars antagonist and presents a compelling motivation for his character. Unfortunately, by the end of TLJ, Kylo is the new Grand Master of the First Order, essentially invalidating his anarchic calls just moments before. It is very frustrating to see the potential there, and watch it be ignored for a more typical and simpler antagonist.
Aspects of the Story Without Meaning
Have you ever driven down a road for about 10 minutes only to find that it ends in a dead end? Probably not considering we all have navigation in our phones nowadays, but I hope you can imagine the frustration of doing so. You would ask yourself “Why does this road even exist?” and “Did the builders know what they were doing when they started paving it?”. All of those would be very reasonable thoughts. Well, aside from the few instances I already mentioned, this incomplete trilogy is littered with points that are essentially meaningless.
The character of Rose Tico, and her actress Kelly Marie Tran, is unfairly crucified by fans. I need to make my voice heard on this. It is appalling how people could treat another human being. She seems like an amazing person and I will say I believe she did a good job playing the character that was written for her. People look for a scapegoat to blame for all of their problems and regrettably, Kelly took the fall for something that was not her fault.
The character of Rose is oozing with potential. She offers the perspective of a Resistance fighter who lost her sister fighting the First Order in a heroic sacrifice. Her character can be used to provide humanity and a realistic lens to view this fantastic space opera of lasers and space wizards. The failings of her character are the fault of the writers and director. They never give her anything to do, at least anything of meaning.
Her main role in TLJ is to go on a side quest with Finn to a casino world and look for a master code breaker to hack into the enemy ship and disable their tracking long enough for the Resistance to get away. Unfortunately, the writers made that entire subplot irrelevant because of another action that I will discuss later. But essentially, Finn and Rose fail to use the codebreaker to disable the tracking, but the ship becomes disabled anyway, and they still manage to get away with the fleeing Resistance anyway. If they never left to go on their quest, they would be in the exact same position they ended up in anyways. And this quest took up roughly a third of the total runtime of TLJ. You can see why I consider this a story without meaning.
The writers did try to sneak in a message with zero subtlety during this portion of the film about how war is bad and how you shouldn’t be cruel to animals. There is absolutely no nuance with the execution and the message comes seemingly out of nowhere as it was never even the hint of an in-universe issue prior to it becoming the biggest issue ever, apparently.
I should mention, too, the moment in TLJ that made fans give up on Rose, purely out of the sake of being objective with my criticism. Again, this is the fault of writing and not the actor. In one of the closing scenes, Finn is about to make a heroic sacrifice to save the Resistance, and Rose makes a maneuver that stops him, putting everyone in danger, just to sneak a kiss and a message of “This is how we’ll win. Not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love” or something like that. The line is so cheesy and makes little sense when she put everyone’s lives in jeopardy to tease a romance that they never built up, while simultaneously denying Finn a solid conclusion to his character arc in the process. This is an example of objectively poor writing diluting meaning from the film.
A second example of promised story elements that were rendered meaningless is the character of Captain Phasma. Let me just say that not only was this character a waste of the talented Gwendoline Christie, but her importance was a straight up lie. There was no subtle misdirects in hopes of giving us a twist. Nope. We were lied to.
Both Abrams and Johnson are to blame for this though. In interviews and press tours, they kept claiming Captain Phasma was going to be a badass character and a focal point of each film. Well, she was relegated to roughly 1:45 of screen time in TFA, where she turned on her post at the first sign of danger and was pushed into a trash compactor. Then, Rian Johnson told us she would be getting more screen time in TLJ and this time would be out looking for revenge. Any guesses as to how much screen time she actually received? She got a cool 1:45 again and, on top of that, she did nothing in the name of revenge. Her only interaction with Finn is because he came to her on his mission (which we already know was a pointless mission too). She did not go out seeking revenge at all. But even when she was about to execute Finn, she is defeated by a Deus Ex Machina of all things. That’s right, Finn only wins because of an outside force that had nothing to do with their interaction. There is nothing satisfying about it. Then she dies and her story is over.
But Disney still has the audacity, the testicular fortitude, to sell a Captain Phasma novel after TLJ’s release! I am trying to not get emotional in my criticism but this makes me upset. We were already sold two lies of her character, and only after you tell us how meaningless her character really is to the main story, you try to sell us a book explaining why she was cool at one irrelevant point. As a fan and a consumer, this is insulting.
However, the most egregious meaningless aspect of the trilogy is The Knights of Ren. They were teased in both the films and marketing as the new order of antagonists led by the flashy Kylo Ren. TFA has Snoke address Kylo directly as the leader of The Knights of Ren as if it is a title of significance. They appear in Rey’s force vision attempting to kill her. Naturally, they must be important. But nope. They have yet to be mentioned again and Kylo has taken control of the First Order, with seemingly no need for the Knights anymore.
So, what are they? The answer is don’t worry about it and try to forget about it. Rian Johnson, again, had zero interest in something that JJ Abrams setup and the story suffers because of it. How could something posed as such an important aspect of a trilogy simply be forgotten about and buried?
My final point regarding the lack of meaning in these films is by the end of TLJ, the Resistance is rebranded into the Rebellion (I wonder where they got that name?), and the First Order is on the offensive. But did you notice how small everything felt? In a conflict of galaxy-wide proportions, the new rebels total maybe 50 people. The First Order, whose leader was just killed along with his capital ship and Starkiller Base (which I can only assume housed most of their resources and troops), is down to maybe a few thousand people. Leia says no one answered their pleas for rescue, and I can only conclude because nobody in the galaxy cared enough. There are barely enough participants in this war to inhabit a small rural town. The galaxy no longer seems affected by the actions of anybody involved. Rose and Finn already showed us that some planets are thriving just selling weapons to both sides, while not participating in the war themselves (Maybe there was a point to that after all). How many other planets and societies are just going about their days with no mention of this war? We were never given a real glimpse of any society except for ones that operate outside either group, so no one really knows what is at stake for the galaxy, if anything. This is just another example of how Rian Johnson wrote meaning and stakes out of the story.
Retroactively Taking Away Meaning
Earlier, I said I would not criticize the film for anything “aesthetic” and I fully intend to stick to that. That means although I do not agree with the changes they made to Luke philosophically, someone might agree with those. That is a simple artistic choice and there is not structural issue with it. But Rian Johnson’s TLJ spends the majority of its runtime attempting to remove meaning from previous entries in the franchise, probably in an effort to allow the new trilogy to grow without being held to the expectations of what came before it. It is understandable for him as a creative filmmaker, but it is also lazy and damaging to the franchise as a whole.
Something that Rian Johnson really seemed to have trouble grasping is that his film does not stand alone, no matter how much he wanted it to. His work seems to point to the idea that he enjoyed the properties of Star Wars but he wanted it to be different. Certain decisions he made fail to align with rules and logic established by previous films that were not his creations. Again, I understand how that can be frustrating to a filmmaker, but his lack of acceptance that he was creating an entry into a larger story has created plot holes and inconsistencies in the entirety of the franchise. His desire to subvert expectations so he could stand alone rendered major moments that came before him as moot.
Beginning with the opening scene of TLJ, where Poe takes a single X-Wing fighter and singlehandedly disables a previously unknown ship called a “Dreadnaught”. The intimidating name and commentary by the characters suggest that this ship is dangerous, and while Poe runs into some minor inconveniences, he manages to beat the behemoth by himself in maybe a minute. This is cool, but it really invalidated all the buildup that we were given regarding the threat-level of the Dreadnaught. Furthermore, assuming the Dreadnaught is simply the new Star Destroyer and not a more advanced and dangerous model, as we are led to believe, it then makes us call into question every encounter throughout the cinematic history of Star Wars we have ever had with a Star Destroyer and wonder if they were really to be taken seriously as a threat if one pilot can disable the biggest and best one in less than a minute. Was every trained fighter pilot in both other eras that much of a step down from Poe? This is minor, however, and can simply be credited to Poe’s inhuman skill-level as a pilot. It is lazy, but okay, I’ll move on.
The second example worth discussing is Leia’s newfound ability to take proton torpedoes to the head, float out in the vacuum of space for a few minutes, then use the Force to propel herself back into the wreckage of the ship she was ejected from due to the torpedoes. There is a note on how bad this scene looks, but maybe someone else could enjoy it. But the significance of this scene is that it rescales what is considered realistic danger for characters. Yes, Leia is the daughter of Anakin and the twin sister of Luke, meaning they should have the same natural aptitude for the Force. But no character in all of Star Wars has ever come close to surviving an event of that much damage. And Leia, to our knowledge, has never trained to learn how to use her Force powers, so if Leia can do that, she should be unkillable, and therefore Luke and Anakin should be the same. These torpedoes killed everyone else on the command bridge with Leia and she essentially survives, fatigued, but without a scratch. Now, I look back on every scene with Luke, Leia, and Anakin in the films and TV shows before TLJ as if they are characters in a video game with invincibility cheat codes.
But if you thought that was bad, this next example renders the plots of entire movies irrelevant and unnecessary. Vice Admiral Holdo was introduced as a foil to Poe. Her no-nonsense attitude and leadership were meant to present a sharp contrast to the trigger-happy Poe, who would often act before thinking. Her presence as a character could have had a lot to offer, if written better. Her leadership skills are questionable, as she refused to reveal her plan to anyone in her own crew as she watched her own ships get destroyed. But that is not the main issue with her.
During the Resistance’s evacuation from their doomed flagship, Holdo stays behind to pilot the ship in what is objectively a noble sacrifice. But when the escape plan is revealed, she turns her dying ship around and jumps to hyperspace and Kamikazes the entire First Order fleet by crashing into a Dreadnaught.
This is an absurdly massive problem for Star Wars. What Rian Johnson did because he thought it would look cool, accidentally blew Death Star-sized plot holes in multiple of TLJ’s predecessors. You see, if sending a ship in hyperspace can interact with objects, like it did in this instance, it reasons that you could weaponize this ability, as Holdo did. So, the Death Star that was a threat in “A New Hope” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, the Death Star II from “Return of the Jedi”, The Droid Control Ship from “The Phantom Menace”, and Starkiller Base from TFA, could all have been taken down by an object jumping to hyperspace and crashing into them. Shouldn’t militaries just make ships, piloted by lifeless droids or autopilots and have them Kamikaze themselves regularly if there is a big enough target? In fact, what would even be the purpose of building planet-destroying superweapons if the physics of crashing objects in hyperspace could destroy planets too? It would seem the Empire waisted decades of time and resources to create a redundant ability. Why does Luke need to skim along that trench and use the Force to aim his torpedoes in the original film when the Rebels could have just launched a few ships with droids piloting them into the Death Star and not risk the human lives? Luke and the Rebels are no longer brave and heroic, but foolish. Call me crazy, but making the plots of 5 of the 10 Star Wars films irrelevant is not a good move for a franchise.
It is important to note that this is also the Deus Ex Machina that saved Rose and Finn from the First Order, capping off their negligible adventure. See, I told you I would mention it later.
BUT THE ORIGINALS DID THIS…
The defense that frustrates me more than any other about these films is the claim that the original trilogy did something similar, or followed similar beats with characters. There may be merit to that point and I do understand that George Lucas wanted each episode to resemble a line of poetry and rhyme. The problem I have with using this as a defense is that if you rhymed a word with itself, everyone would tell you that you can do better.
With regards to Snoke, I am always told “Well, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor in the Original Trilogy. He wasn’t given any motivations either and everyone loves him”. Good point hypothetical person. But we already have the Emperor in Star Wars so why do I need him again? Also, writing tropes from the 1980s are generally simpler than they are today. Just because more one-dimensional villains were acceptable at one point does not mean we should accept that standard today. Sufficient complexity should be a given when creating a compelling character and just because audiences in the 80s were okay without it, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve better now.
TFA and TLJ both attempts to emulate what came before them, even if TLJ wanted to burn it all down at the same time. As it stands now, we still have Jedi, despite Luke’s best efforts to reform, a Rebellion, and an evil empire. I find it ironic that Rian Johnson so desperately wanted to do his own thing, yet at the last minute, he returned every character to their starting point that conveniently mirrors the stories that came before him. He essentially poked holes in a boat and then got onboard.
If these films were just going to do what they’ve done, why even bother creating them? I know the answer is money, but I am asking purely from the creative aspect. Why bother telling these stories at all? They are devoid of meaning and purpose and if you only sought to recreate what came before them, I might as well just watch the originals.
The reason fans are so protective of the films is because we know they are not like other films. There is no do-overs or retcons. We want it to be the best version of itself possible because we know we really only have one chance to make things right with it, and once a decision is made to put something in one of the movies, there it shall remain forever. We must learn to live with that and we have a long history of stomping our feet in useless protest over decisions we don’t agree with. But guess what. Jar Jar Binks, Jedi Council circle time, and sessions of the Senate are still part of Star Wars.
There is an old saying amongst us nerds that “no one hates Star Wars quite as much as Star Wars fans” and sadly it’s true. We are the overbearing parent demanding our child practice the piano and get straight As. We want what is best for our child, even if our child grows up resenting us for it. It’s not a healthy relationship, but you can never doubt that we care.
Although we do take our obsession to extremes, there are still logical, rational criticisms to be made of the films that are not just fans overreacting to something playing out differently in their collective heads. There are some serious flaws to these new films that are more than just annoying choices. These movies masquerade behind shallow meaning and purpose and pretend to be far more than they are. The writing has drained any significance and understanding because a total lack of direction, and dare I say competence, with regards to what they were partaking in.
As a fan, it is disappointing more than anything. We want these stories to be great and full of meaning. Hell, this should not be such a ridiculous standard to hold anything to. A question I always ask myself after I see a film is “did this film need to be told?”. So far, the answer to that is no. None of the new trilogy adds any meaning to the saga that came before it, and the only thing that it has yet to truly accomplish is draining those films of meaning.
A problem I see as a common theme is that Disney develops characters before they develop stories. Now, I am not a professional writer and maybe that is what is considered appropriate for making stories, but the negative consequences of this course are felt in these films. Disney made characters, then gave them something to do to validate their existence, and you can tell that they don’t quite know what they are doing. They did the same thing for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the whole thing felt pointless. The only film that seems to have gone against this trend is “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. In that film, the main attraction was the plot. The characters were simply a medium in which the plot could be viewed. Everyone in the film had a natural reason for their story to be told. Everyone was doing something of significance. It is not a perfect film, but notice how there is no fan outrage over anything that the movie did because there was meaning behind it all.
A lesson Disney could learn is to simplify their creation process. If you break down the plot of TLJ, it pretty much boils down to a slow speed chase until someone runs out of gas, all while everyone else just wastes time until they can all regroup for one last showdown. If Disney knows what story they are trying to tell, instead of forcing different parts together and trying to link them with mildly relevant activities, perhaps they can stick the landing in the trilogy finale. I desperately hope they do because I endure physical pain from being critical of Star Wars. I want to love and appreciate them for all they are. If episode 9 reverses this trend, I will happily accept it for what it is. I will give it a chance and I plan on following this post up when I do.
I hope that we can all have a discussion about this, knowing that each side could learn something if we just listened to each other instead of blindly prejudicing the other based on which side of the debate we take. Star Wars is a community and the fracture I have witnessed over these new films saddens me. I hope we do not lose what we once had.
Take a moment and let
your imagination wonder to an enchanted realm of possibilities. Picture
yourself sitting at a table at a new restaurant with your parents. They come
bearing their usual skeptical optimism, where your father is interested but
really was not in the mood to try anything new because you chose this new place
over a proven favorite, and your mother has already made it abundantly clear to
the 16-year-old hostess that she is gluten free and therefore they need to
construct a brand-new kitchen in her honor. You’re just sitting there trying
not to add an undue burden on this new serving staff, making sure to say
“please” and “thank you” as loud as possible to give you the best odds of not
getting a fresh batch of spit in your food. You are on your best behavior and
trying to tune out the turbulence that is a given with your family in a public
I know this seems like an utterly foreign affair because none of us have ever been embarrassed by the conduct of our goofy-ass parents, but try to place yourself there because this person is poor, little, old me. And while I am trying to save the sinking wreckage of a family social outing with just the little things, my parents start reading you the menu! “Zach, look. They have chicken here!” Ooooow. How exotic! I would never have guessed that such a fine establishment such as the one you dragged me to tonight would serve something as extravagant as chicken! Oh, it comes in a sauce too? Unprecedented! Look, I am trying to hold it together and save our family from getting into a verbal altercation with management over a $5 miscalculation on the bill, but you’re telling me they have chicken…WITH SAUSE?!?! Please, go on. What else do they have here? This world of wonders is so alien to me and I would be utterly helpless without you acting as a liaison to the kitchen, which by the way, you too have never eaten from.
wait. What is this tri-fold piece of construction paper doing on my lap? It
seems that there are strange markings on it, almost as if it is trying to
signal something to me. Hmmmmmm. I might have to break out all of my detective
skills and do some sleuthing as to what this flimsy tablet could be. WHAT?!?
THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE! It turns out that this is another menu! A perfect replica of
the menu you are reading from. And it turns out everyone at the table has one
if I have the same information you have at my fingertips, wouldn’t it seem a
little redundant and ridiculous to act like you’re Sir Reginald Chicken with
Sause and you sailed across the sea to discovered that they served Chicken with
Sause here? I have a lot on my plate here and I don’t have the patience to deal
with this tediousness, mom.
That was certainly an interesting night. Well, actually it was really drawn-out and boring (as is tradition). But the results were pretty interesting, right? I know this may be a shock to anyone reading this, but I have opinions about those results. Some are positive, which in all seriousness, is a word I rarely associate with, some are negative, which fits my character like a glove, and some are just interesting observations. Since the internet is a thing, I doubt any of my opinions haven’t already been circling the depths of twitter for several hours already, so I apologize if you’ve already heard any of this before.
Let’s kick this bad boy off with positives to be drawn from last night. The Oscars absolutely nailed a few picks, and even though most of them were predictable, I still want to celebrate their wins.
I absolutely love
Lady Gaga. In a world where my most marketable talent is writing petty, unsolicited
rants into the ether, she is a phenomenal actress and an otherworldly musician.
I am thrilled to see that she won for Best Original Song (along with Mark
Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt) for “Shallow”. It’s no secret if
you know me personally that I am a fairly emotional guy, and “Shallow” is a song
that really cuts to the core of me. Lady Gaga’s vocals on the song are the
stuff legends are made of and they are the reason the audience feels what they
do when listening to the song. Maybe I am a prisoner of the moment, but this
feels like one of those rare wins in this category that will be fondly
remembered for years to come, and not fade into the footnotes of cinema history
like many others that have come before it.
The category of
Best Makeup and Hairstyling can be a fickle mistress at times. We, as filmgoers,
can often be oblivious to the importance of the techniques that help create
characters, and too often do we see the subtle nuances go unrecognized in favor
of flashy designs in blockbusters and fancy old-English period pieces. This is
a category that gave Suicide Squad an Academy Award just for bleaching Margot
Robbie’s and Jared Leto’s faces and dying their hair bright neon colors, so it
is hard to tell if the academy really values quality over flamboyant displays.
Having said that, the Academy absolutely got this one right this year by giving
“Vice” the win. The combination of Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, and Patricia
DeHaney turned Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Sam Rockwell into very
believable representations of famous, modern political figures. Bale,
especially, was so convincing as Dick Cheney and they look absolutely nothing
alike in reality. I think we can overlook the sheer difficulty it takes to turn
three well-known people into three different and equally well-known people, but
I am glad the Academy didn’t.
It is so
satisfying to finally be able to say “Academy Award Winner Spike Lee”.
“BlacKkKlansman” was the magnum opus of his esteemed career and a film that I
would say did not get close to the correct amount of recognition last night.
However, the win for Best Adapted Screenplay still was the category that I
valued as the most important for the film to win in last night, and it
delivered. The writing in films with themes about racism normally receive
praise by default, but Spike Lee’s creation adds so much more to the standard
tropes. By mixing seamlessly a brand of dark comedy, humanity, and stressful
drama, he and his crew wrote and created a genuinely great film.
Alfonso Caurón is
undoubtedly one of the finest movie-makers of any generation and last night was
just a continued trend of the world recognizing that. “Roma” was among my
favorite films of the entire year, and aside from personal opinions, it is
objectively a technical tour de force. Caurón’s wins for Best Cinematography
and Best Director are a testament to his ability to create art. Best Foreign
Language Feature was a hanging curveball for him, and not that it isn’t
important, but the other two are considered “major” categories with far more
mainstream and popular competition. For any person to take home 3 Oscars in the
same night, they must have created something truly special, and although he was
snubbed for Best Picture, we should not lose sight of what an impressive night
For a very long
time, the mainstream blockbuster was a taboo subject matter for the Oscars. Maybe
one or two could sneak a nomination here and there, but rarely would the voters
ever take them seriously enough as a genre to reward them. In fact, in 2009,
the Oscars faced such harsh backlash for not including “The Dark Knight” in the
Best Picture nominations class that they had to amend their voting rules to
allow up to 10 nominees to hopefully diversify the pool of films to vote from.
Well it only took another decade for the Academy to finally vote in a superhero
film, “Black Panther” for Best Picture, and thus finally addressing the initial
injustice that caused the rip in space-time that forced the rule change in the
first place. Sunrise, sunset. That alone is huge step in the right direction
for the Oscars in recognizing a wider assortment of films, but last night
“Black Panther” won some hardware too. Best Production Design, Best Costume
Design, and Best Original Score are all much deserved wins for a film that
thrived equally as much on its feel as it did on its content. Here’s hoping
this is the start of a very positive trend.
superhero films, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” winning best Animated
Feature breathed life into my unwilling corpse. This film might be my favorite
Spiderman film to date, and it was so refreshing to see someone other than
Disney juggernauts get a win in this category for a change. Nothing against
Disney or their admittedly high-quality animated movies, but this category
sometimes has the feeling of inevitability, kind of like how everyone knows the
Warriors will win the NBA Championship yet again this year. Stagnation is never
a good thing when you are trying foster a competitive, creative environment, so
this win should be encouraging to everyone who wants to see more films push
each other to be better.
YOU HATE TO SEE IT
Enough of that positive crap. I am not sure who the man who was writing all of that was, but he certainly is not welcome in this house again (Unless you liked him in which case, I’ll do anything to conform to your standards. Please, someone love me.). Let’s get down to what I do best: criticizing people for things I could not dream of doing at their level myself. If the likes of social media did not tip this off to you, there were some, let’s just say subpar winners last night and it is only appropriate that we shame them for winning something based on other people’s opinions.
“Green Book” won Best Picture. Why? Beats the hell out of me. When I saw this film for the first time, I remember my initial reaction was “I have definitely seen that before”. To me, and apparently to the angry Twitter mob as well, “Green Book” was not a special film. That is not to say it is a bad film, and the chemistry between the leads is what carries it, but the subject matter, the plot, the message, and even the character designs are all painfully unoriginal. Vigo Mortenson plays the single most Italian human being that has ever graced the planet Earth with their presence, and Mahershala Ali plays a man that is so blatantly just the reverse of stereotypes for the sake of comparison. I know they are both portraying real-life people and that is what the film is about, but these ideas have all been explored before and the methodology of fleshing out the characters boarders on hackneyed. With Ali’s character, it felt as though the writers had a checklist they used to create his character into the most Oscar-bait mold possible. Is he artsy? Check. Is he a sophisticated man struggling with his identity? Check. Is he burdened by his own genius? Check, but let’s make him an alcoholic for good measure. Oh, let’s add one scene where he admits he is gay, then never mention it again. Is racism bad and friendship good? Hell yeah it is. No one will care about the lack of nuance because no one ever does. Its wins for Best Picture, as well as Best Original Screenplay are not just surprising, they seem like the wrong picks. “The Favourite” and “Vice” had far better original screenplays, and “Roma”, “BlacKkKlansman” and “The Favourite” were much better films overall.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is not a great film. It is a tremendously well-acted compilation of loosely connected events with no plot. Rami Malek definitely deserved his Best Actor win so please remove him from anything I am about to say, but this film won 4 goddamn times last night, leading all films. My brain is having difficulty coping with that kind of reality. “Bohemian Rhapsody” winning Best Film Editing when it is objectively a very poorly edited film will surely rank among mankind’s most awful crimes. There are so many disorienting, and sometimes meaningless cuts that I am mildly convinced that Academy voters didn’t watch the same film that we did. Conspiracies are not really my thing, but I really don’t see any other reasonable explanations. I mean this film should not have even come close to smelling a nomination in this category and yet it won the damn trophy. I can sort of justify winning Best Sound Mixing with the way the music was composed for the film, but how could it have beaten “A Quiet Place” for Best Sound Editing when that entire film is based on its use of sound? This is a film with some strong elements, particularly the acting, but it is inexplicable how it got so much love and recognition when it clearly does not deserve it.
WELL ISN’T THAT NEAT
Time for some miscellaneous thoughts about last night. You can view any of these as positives or negatives but they were just interesting things I noticed and the possible long-term consequences of them. Enjoy.
The success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” last night sets the stage for a contender next year. “Rocketman” will be the fantastic biopic of the life of musician Elton John and might be poised to follow in the footsteps of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Now, I obviously have not seen the film yet and there are many variables that have yet to be determined before I coronate anybody the winner of an event that is a year away, but the similarities of the two films can be seen already. Both are biopics about flamboyant, British rock stars who are gay and who have larger-than-life personalities. Both will feature popular music along with the peaks and valleys of their individual personal lives. It is still yet to be determined how well “Rocketman” executes but if you are part of that team of filmmakers, you now see a viable path to Oscar gold next year, and your film wont event need to be perfect. It is definitely something to look out for.
It used to be almost a rule that actors and actresses who have had a long career but have never won an Oscar were due for a win and would achieve recognition based on that alone. I can remember this as recently as Juliane Moore in “Still Alice” in 2014. But there seems to be a trend away from that notion in recent years and 2019 might have been the ultimate tell that the Academy no longer votes along those lines. Glenn Close was heavily favored to win Best Actress, in no small part to the fact that this was her seventh nomination and hadn’t won yet. Any actress who has seven nominations clearly has had a very distinguished career and it feels wrong that she never has won before. But when Olivia Coleman won, Glenn Close went home empty. I personally think that every one of the Best Actress nominees had deserving performances and I see no error in rewarding Coleman over Close, but it does signal the greater change. To a slightly lesser extent, Amy Adams now has six nominations without a win after coming up short to first time nominee Regina King. Both actresses again did phenomenal jobs, but what used to be the unofficial tiebreaker no longer seems to be in place. Now, looking back on it, the past few years have signified that this trend was coming to an end soon. Actors such as Sylvester Stallone and Michael Keaton were favored in recent years and went home empty-handed. We may need to adjust the way we analyze these awards in the future.
I already mentioned the impact “Black Panther” had last night but for the future, “Black Panther” may have opened that path for major blockbusters to possibly win Best Picture. This is still a relative longshot, but if the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” is a satisfying film, the sheer grandeur of the film should merit a Best Picture nomination in my opinion. And since “Black Panther” was adequately recognized last night, it seems possible that other films could stand on its shoulders.
This year in particular seemed to signal a more surface level voting standard in the Academy. Shallow depth in writing made a comeback and that is not a good thing. Now, that is not a uniform observation but it is startling that films that either conform to the mold or do not have cohesive elements of a story seem to be garnering positive reception. I hope this is not a trend and maybe it was a one-off incident but it could be telling of the types of nominees we could be seeing next year.
This has been on my mind for a while and I finally have a
good platform to vent. Have you guys seen these Buick commercials where all of
these people go around surprising their friends by the fact that they have a
Buick instead of some other, far more desirable car like it’s supposed to be
impressive? There is always this one person who is so overly sure of themselves
that the other person must be driving a cool car and then pompous-ass Linda
comes around with an iced latte and a hair flip and says “It’s a Buick. You
wouldn’t understand”. Alright, calm down, Linda. I know it must be tough to
hear me all the way up on that high horse of yours, but let’s get one thing
straight: no matter how cool you may seem in that commercial, NO ONE HAPPILY
DRIVES A BUICK.
It’s simple science. Buicks are for old people and teenagers
that are driving a third-generation hand-me-down from their great-uncle who was
forced to surrender his driver’s license to the state after a series of
low-speed fender-benders outside the local breakfast buffet. I’m sure there are
people who drive Buicks that may be adequately satisfied, but I’d wager my
right testicle and a third of my liver that there are ZERO human beings on this
planet that are happily driving a damn Buick and think “This is it. There is
nowhere else to go but down from here”.
Buick can try to change their image all they want but to
have the unmitigated gall they have to really sit up there and masquerade as
one of the cool kids is deeply insulting. Oh yeah, Buick, after seeing that
commercial of an understated, affordable, beige sedan, I think I am going to
buy a damn Buick poster and hang it up in my room. In fact, I can’t wait to
tell my parents that I got a Buick. Maybe they’ll finally be impressed with me.
Who knows, maybe I could use this Adonis of automobiles to court one of the surely
hundreds of women mouths are involuntarily agape at just the presence of this
hotrod. The world will truly know that I am a force to be reckoned with because
I drive a Buick. Does any of that seem reasonable, specifically my parents
being impressed with me? That’s a hard no. Honestly, if Buick discontinued and
went the way of Pontiac and Saturn, would anyone really notice. Again, that
would be a negative. Stay in your lane, Buick. You look ridiculous.