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Showing posts from May, 2018

Addressing Criticisms of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), part 3

For this three-part piece, I wanted instead to address criticism towards The Last Jedi (2017)—chiefly the vitriolic, virulent sort that's arisen during its theatrical run, and following its home release. There will be spoilers concerning the movie itself, here, but largely I'll be discussing the franchise as a whole.

This is part three; read part one, here, and part two, here.

Many fans seem to argue that Rian Johnson and company don't understand what Star Wars is, that their iterations lack something even the weakest Lucas entries managed to procure. I find all of these complaints odd and vague, given their surly lodgers appear to be taking umbrage with something that's altogether unrelated to the superficial details I've already mentioned, regarding politics and sexual identities. In other words, one could combine everything progressive in The Last Jedi (2017) and still come up short when comparing these collective sins to Johnson's gravest error of all: his &…

Addressing Criticisms of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), part 2

For this three-part piece, I wanted instead to address criticism towards The Last Jedi (2017)—chiefly the vitriolic, virulent sort that's arisen during its theatrical run, and following its home release. There will be spoilers concerning the movie itself, here, but largely I'll be discussing the franchise as a whole. 

This is part two; read part one, here, and part three, here.

The tendency to celebrate George Lucas and rate the Star Wars prequels higher than The Last Jedi makes me want to question the persons making these calls. Obviously the fan base isn't homogeneous. It spans four decades, and casual fans aren't going to be aware of the long history of revision the series has experienced, at the hands of George Lucas. They'll likely own the latest editions of the movies and simply take these at face value. This is going to be, in and of itself, a highly-divisive point of contention amongst older and younger fans. Some will remember, and others will not; it's…

Addressing Criticisms of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), part 1

A large number of people hate Star Wars: Episode 8 - The Last Jedi (2017). It's not a horror film, per se, but given the horror stories people tell about it on YouTube and other media outlets, you wouldn't be remiss in thinking otherwise. It begs the question, is the movie really that bad; furthermore, if it is, how far down the rabbit hole does it go? While I've been wanting to review The Last Jedi for awhile to answer these questions, that will have to wait a little longer. For this three-part piece, I wanted instead to address its criticism—chiefly the vitriolic, virulent sort that's arisen during its theatrical run, and following its home release. There will be spoilers concerning the movie itself, here, but largely I'll be discussing the franchise as a whole.

This is part one; read part two, here, and part three, here.


Concerning this internet backlash, we have a war on our hands—one waged between different fans of the same titanic franchise, and its current bo…

Cobra Kai, season 1 (2018): Review, part 3

Here, in part three of my review for Cobra Kai (2018), I examine the show's conclusion, sexual content, and larger themes. Part one outlined my concerns going in, and the questions I want to address throughout the entire review. Part two addressed the show's large cast (and the diverse, complex interactions between them). Spoilers!

Everything in the show leads up to the tournament, featured in the climactic final episode. I loved this episode; apart from the impressive martial arts, it wonderfully illustrates the show's themes of finding balance in perpetual, flawed tutelage. It opens with the crane kick, throwing it out the window to make room for other tricks. There's a few other winks and nods (such as Daniel clapping his hands together to the boom of dramatic music, before shouting "Medic!"). And then things proceed in Karate Kid fashion, through battle. What's different this time around is the roster has increased, in size. In the original, it was Da…

Cobra Kai, season 1 (2018): Review, part 2

Here, in part two of my review for Cobra Kai (2018), I address the show's large cast (and the diverse, complex interactions between them). Part one outlined my concerns going in, and the questions I want to address throughout the entire review. Part three shall examine the show's conclusion, sexual content, and larger themes. Spoilers!

Johnny is a complex character. We sympathize with him and Daniel as much as we do because they feel human to us. This is because Cobra Kai is patient; it takes its time. Much like a professional fight, it has rounds. Our feelings evolve per exchange. Gradually the drama and comedy unfold—realized through a series of complicated bouts, each involving multiple, interwoven participants. How things start off isn't always how they end.


This is true on and off the mat. For example, when Johnny and Daniel first meet, Daniel comes off as smarmy. He's tickled to see his old rival so defeated—by time, more than by him. Vae victus, indeed. The form…

Cobra Kai, season 1 (2018): Review, part 1

So begins my review of Cobra Kai (2018). Here, in part one, I outline my concerns going in, and the questions I want to address, throughout the review. Part two shall address the show's large cast (and the diverse, complex interactions between them); part three, its conclusion, sexual content, and larger themes. Spoilers!

The Karate Kid (1984) is one of my favorite movies. Ever. So when I heard there was going to be a flagship miniseries on the relatively untested YouTube Red, I was more than a little dubious; the show was thirty-five years later, for starters. Yet, for all intents and purposes, it seemed to be living through the eyes of a man stuck in the 1980s. I don't for a second question the fact that certain people, myself included, live in a certain "time," one that stands still for us, and probably never quite existed anywhere except in our heads. But in the case of Cobra Kai, I sincerely hoped the show at more to offer than that.


Thirty-five years have passed…

Annihilation (2018): Review, part 3

Here is part three of my spoiler-heavy review for Alex Garland's Annihilation (2018). Read part one, here, and two, here. For part three, I wanted to explain the climax of the film, and its aftermath. The ending might seem confusing or empty of meaning. Trust me when I say that it’s not. As narrative, it’s framed. This is important because it means that, when examined in retrospect, everything we thought to be disintegrated actually adds up. 



At this point, Lena progresses into the belly of the beast—the lighthouse, itself. Inside looking out, he camera points at the invader as she proceeds through the tunnel; as she does, the camera pulls back, coasting on a dolly. The tunnel walls are black, but glitter like polished bones. The effect is not unlike the derelict craft, in Alien (1979): When John Hurt's Kane descended into it, he found the ships eggs waiting for him; and the fact that each movie features a doomed male with the same name is no small coincidence. Like John Hurt, …

Annihilation (2018): Review, part 2

Here is part two of my review of Alex Garland's Annihilation (2018). Read part one, here; part three, here. Spoilers!

In act two of the movie, Lena and company find the fossil and the videotape. These are all dead, passive clues. Apart from the angry crocodile Lena kills, early on, they haven’t met anything living in the Shimmer except plants (ostensibly none of them are toxic). This all changes with the bear. In another movie, it would have been the star attraction. Here, it’s just another entry in a long list of weird events, all of them spectacular. 



Make no mistake, Garland’s film is very much a creature feature, but a good one. It deliberately teases out the beasts, rather than dropping them in front of us. The sneak attacks occur on-screen, but pull the women out of frame—are heralded and followed by ominous sounds. The execution is spot-on. Yes, the creatures are mostly digital, but a lot of effort went into animating them, and providing their awful bodies with abundant, hide…

Annihilation (2018): Review, part 1

Before I begin, I want to apologize for the delay in releasing timely articles: It appears I’ve overestimated my ability to write short (1,000 words) articles, and to be able to write personal projects at the same time as graduate school projects. I'm caught up with school, at the point, and now have some time to write, again. Without further ado, here is my spoiler-filled examination of Alex Garland’s Annihilation (2018), divided into three portions: part one, two, and three.
As with the equally-superb Ex Machina (2015), Garland directed and screen-wrote Annihilation. He also produced and screen-wrote Dredd (2012), and worked with Danny Boyle on Sunshine (2007) and 28 Days Later (2003). All solid movies. Annihilation is effectively an adaptation of Jeff Vandermeer’s 2014 novel of the same name. Vandermeer's authorial intentions notwithstanding, Garland's movie is much clearer than the adapted material, and appears to explain/introduce elements from the other two novels Va…