Movie Review: Star Wars The Last Jedi

Star_Wars_The_Last_Jedi

A dramatic, tragic, exciting film taking all of Star Wars in a new direction.


If you’ve been anywhere on the internet during the past few days, you’ve probably realized that a lot of people really liked The Last Jedi, the most recent installment of the new Star Wars films, and some people really, really hated it. I went to see the film on Tuesday, expecting to be at least mildly entertained, and to probably not have any of the nostalgia-induced anger issues that a lot of older fans have been experiencing due to this movie. The Star Wars films were never a huge part of my childhood. In fact, Star Wars itself was only involved in my life through the Lego Star Wars video game that we had on our Wii. I never even saw any of the films until I was over the age of ten. I’m not super attached to the franchise, even now. Some of you may want to kill me when I say this, but I am honestly not a huge fan of the original trilogy. I went to see The Force Awakens simply because the rest of my family was going to see it, and I ended up actually really liking it, way more than I liked any of the previous films. It seemed more serious to me, more believable, deeper, more thought out, better made.

So maybe when I say that I really loved The Last Jedi, and its subversion of tropes and expected twists, the risky moves taken by the filmmakers and the new direction it seems to be taking the Star Wars franchise as a whole, its because I’m not looking at the film the same way as all the angry people.

I never grew up with Luke and Leia and Han. I don’t have any kind of nostalgia for the original films, or even for the unmentionable prequels (shudder). It doesn’t hurt me to see new filmmakers giving us new takes on old characters, or even destroying old characters to make way for the new. I loved having my expectations subverted, loved every twist and turn the film took. It didn’t make me long for the ‘good old days’ of Star Wars. It made me excited for what is to come.

If you’re upset about the film, I can understand where you’re coming from. I’ve had a few childhood favorites ruined for me as well by newer takes. But maybe we could just stop judging one another for how we feel about the film? It is a movie, after all.

But enough of that. This is supposed to be a review, so I should probably be talking about the actual movie.

If there’s one criticism I have about The Last Jedi, it’s that it feels very long. It is, in fact, just over two and a half hours, and at several points in the final act, I actually thought that the film was about to end on a cliffhanger or something. But it does a good job of telling a complete, if quite long story. Often, I find that long movies aren’t necessarily better; in fact they’re often not edited well and need to be cut down. The Last Jedi didn’t strike me that way, though. I didn’t think that there was any way it could have been cut down, unless you had moved the entire third act into the next movie and left the film on a terrible cliffhanger. The pacing feels slightly off, with the first two acts feeling like a complete film, and the final act also feeling like a complete, if much shorter, film, or even the beginning of a new movie. But the pacing within each act is very well done, especially considering the amount of characters who each have to have their screen time and story. At no point did I feel like getting up and walking out because I was bored. I wanted to find out what happened. It just sort of felt like I’d walked into one film and had an extra half of another movie tacked on to the end. Not in a bad way, if that makes sense, but it was still a bit of an odd feeling.

Another thing that felt a bit tacked on was the little political messages about weapons and war. In part of the story we encounter a bunch of rich weapons dealers, who have been selling to both sides in the war and getting wealthy off of the conflict. I don’t have a problem with the message or the issue that this seemed to be trying to expose, it was just presented in a kind of bizarre way in the film, and felt a little off for some reason. Maybe a little too political?

The story of the film, however, was quite well written and enjoyable, while also being slightly darker than most Star Wars films and material I’ve seen. The entire tone of the film seems to have shifted down a few notches, with dark or drab color palates, war worn clothing and environments, and a lot of heavy moments which honestly reminded me of the more recent Marvel films. There was, however, a fair amount of humor to lighten the mood, and while some of the jokes fell flat, it was a nice break from the seriousness of the rest of the movie. The acting was also phenomenal, especially that of John Boyega (who plays Finn) and Adam Driver (who plays Kylo Ren). Rose, a new character played by Kelly Marie Tran, was also very well played and written, and I loved her bright, chipper attitude. She seemed to be having fun in every scene she was in.

A lot of the angry fans seem to be mad about the fact that the film subverts a lot of the tropes we expect in a Star Wars film. While a large part of nostalgia is wanting new things to be mostly the same as the old, so that we can relive that old excitement and experience with a few attention holding changes, viewing the film as I do without that nostalgia, I was very excited about the subversion of tropes and unexpected twists. This film made me excited about Star Wars, something I haven’t really been, well, ever… It’s a new take for a new generation of fans and, personally, I really loved it.


Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“I have never been a Star Wars fan. But I think I just became a Star Wars fan!”


Thank you for reading my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi! I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen the film? What do you think? Are you excited to see what happens next in the Star Wars universe? Let’s chat in the comments!

🙂

Netflix Review: Stranger Things (Seasons 1-2)

Stranger_Things_logoNetflix’s hit original series more than lives up to the hype.


If you’ve been on the internet at all within the last year or so, you’ve definitely heard of Stranger Things, a Netflix original series full of 80s nostalgia, an authentic small-town atmosphere, and complete with just enough government conspiracy theories and paranormal activity to really shake things up. I’d heard of it, of course, but I hadn’t really been interested until I saw the trailer for the second season, which came out around Halloween. I ended up binge watching the entire series after Season 2 came out, and, as you can probably tell from the little tag line at the top of this review, I loved it.

Fair warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!


Season 1: Missing kids and monster hunts.

Season 1 introduces us to three sets of characters, who all work toward similar goals throughout the story and often meet and crossover with one another: the kids, the teenagers, and the adults. The kids are Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will, a group of outcast middle-schoolers who love watching Star Wars and playing Dungeons and Dragons. When Will goes missing on his way home from a D&D game with his friends, his mother, Joyce, calls up the local law enforcement, lead by Chief of Police Jim Hopper, to find him. Will’s remaining friends go on the hunt for him themselves, meeting up with a strange, lost girl called Eleven, who has telekinetic powers and knows the one thing everyone else has missed; Will has become stranded in a parallel dimension called the Upside Down. He was taken by a monster called the demigorgon, which is now on the prowl in the small town of Hawkins, looking for new victims. Adults, teens and kids alike must band together to stop this monster, and uncover the sketchy goings-on at the high security government lab situated just too close to the town for comfort.

While Stranger Things is certainly a slower-paced show, the writers always find new ways to kick the suspense up another notch. I came into the show knowing several pretty big spoilers (they’re quite hard to avoid on the internet these days), but the show still surprised me and kept me on the edge of my seat at every turn. It perfectly balanced elements of psychological horror and tense, nail-biting scenes with freaky, in-your-face jumpscares.

The writers also do an expert job of weaving the different threads of the story together into a tightly-knit tapestry, and even though the cast of characters is quite large, all of them are well developed and interesting. Even though the teenagers’ section of the story wasn’t my favorite, it is only fair to say that this is just personal preference, as all the characters were fleshed out and played very well by their respective actors. Maybe I was just a bit disappointed when what I thought was the message of this portion of the story ended up falling flat. The writers seemed to have planted a subtle message about modern hook up culture (a teenage character hooks up with her boyfriend, only to regret it later on and also have her negligence basically lead to her friend’s death), but it was later subverted when she just ended up back with that same boyfriend at the end of the season. This supposed message was undermined even more in Season 2, when she hooks up with another character, apparently without any consequences or regrets at all.

But all in all, Season 1 was a fantastic intro to a fantastic show, complete with all the scares, tears, and feels you could wish for. I finished it still wanting more, and, thank goodness, there was a whole new season just waiting for me to dive in…


Season 2: A new challenger approaches…

It’s been a year since we last saw our friends in Hawkins. Season 2 starts off on Halloween of 1984, catching us up on all the small town happenings and introducing a few new characters, including a brother and sister from sunny California who instantly become the coolest, most envied kids in town, and Joyce’s new boyfriend, Bob (played by Sean Astin). Will is no longer missing, but he’s still feeling the aftereffects of his journey into the Upside Down, which include terrifying  visions of a great shadow monster that fills the whole sky. Meanwhile, a strange blight is spreading across Hawkins, attacking crops with rot and slowly transforming the landscape into the likeness of the Upside Down. Hopper, who has been hiding Eleven in a house in the woods for the past year, is called out to investigate the blight, and Eleven endeavors to escape her quarters and find her mother and her past. Hawkins must once again face the darkness from the Upside Down, and, with Eleven’s help, hopefully defeat it.

Season 2 really ramps up the threat posed by the Upside Down, broadening the scope of the show for a much more epic, cinematic experience. This time, our heroes face an intelligent evil instead of a mindless monster, an villain easily capable of destroying all of Hawkins, and maybe the entire world. I really enjoyed this broadening of horizons, and I honestly liked Season 2 even more than Season 1. It almost made the first season feel small in comparison, as characters venture outside of Hawkins and a new set of friends and threats are introduced. The writers once again managed to craft an extraordinarily tightly-woven storyline out of a massive cast of characters, and still made sure that every character had their own distinct personality and backstory. I really enjoyed how they allowed different characters to take the spotlight in Season 2; where as Season 1 was more focused on Mike, this time around it’s really Will’s story, with Steve and Dustin and a few other characters playing much bigger roles. The creators of the show are not afraid to mix things up, while still retaining all the awesome aspects of Season 1 that made the show good in the first place, and Season 2 more than lived up to all the hype. I can hardly wait to see what happens next!


Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“The hype is real! And, surprisingly, quite justified this time.”


Content note: Stranger Things is rated TV-14, and not without reason. There is a lot of language, some violence and scary images, and, as I said before, a character who hooks up with two different boys. Although the show stars several young actors, it’s definitely not a kids’ show, and I would personally say it would be better for older teens.


Thanks for reading my review of Stranger Things! Do you like the show? Which do you like better: Season 1 or Season 2? What are some of your favorite characters? Let’s chat in the comments!

🙂

The Tangle Blog Tour: Official Announcement

I’ve been talking for a bit about setting up a blog tour for The Tangle, and finally everything’s in place! Everything’s been scheduled, and I can finally let you know the official dates of the tour, and all the blogs it will be stopping at. Mark your calendars, or follow me on social media, where I’ll be providing links to all the awesome content during the tour!


The Tangle Blog Tour: Official Schedule 

Tour Dates: 6th – 9th of November, 2017

November 6th: Interview with Kyle Robert Shultz

November 7th: Book Review by S. M. Metzler

November 8th: Book Review and YouTube Interview with Hannah Heath

November 9th: Book Review by Brianna Merritt


I’m super excited about this blog tour, and I can’t wait to share this book with you! The Tangle comes out November 4th, but you can still pre-order the Kindle Edition on Amazon, and enter for a chance to win a signed paperback copy on Goodreads.

Thanks for reading this post! I’ll see you again soon.

🙂