Tuesday, July 11, 2017

REVIEW: Spider-Man Homecoming

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT

Let me preface by saying that I am neither a Marvel hater nor a Marvel fanboy. But I am a Spider-man fan. I wasn’t a huge comic book junkie growing up, but I did read The Amazing Spider-man and The Spectacular Spider-man religiously for a good number of years. But this character is unrecognizable in the newest installment of the franchise’s critically acclaimed hit, Spider-man Homecoming.

2017 has been a topsy-turvy year to say the least, but this summer’s movies and their response have been baffling. After the DC universe ruined Batman and Superman, their entry of Wonder Woman as a decent follow up was an unexpected surprise. But the foot-shooting of Spider-man Homecoming and the fanfare that it has received is enough to send me into a straight jacket. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but this movie is almost as pointless as Spider-man 3.

Let’s start with Mini-Iron-Man…

The first two Spider-man movies (Spider-man 2002 and Spider-man 2) still remain the closest and accurate big screen portrayal to the famous web-slinger.  Few people would argue that. But after the disastrous third installment and the clunky re-boots, Marvel had a definite challenge in bringing the character into it’s busy new flashy cinematic universe. But somehow, in Captain America: Civil War they found a way to insert him brilliantly! Spider-man steals the show in his incredible cameo, and making him a Tony Stark discovery was a great idea. Stark gave him a sweet costume and gave him the confidence to become a potential Avenger.
How badly this follow up ruined all of that is a total tragedy. It’s not just a new cool Spider-man suit. It’s an Iron Man suit in Spidey fashion.  Unlike Tony Stark, Spider-man has SUPER POWERS. He doesn’t need an augmented reality super impenetrable suit with web-guns and accessories. He has super strength, wall climbing abilities, and an acute spider sense to danger. DOESN’T ANYONE REMEMBER THIS?!
This kid has no Spidey sense.  He just bumbles around looking for crime. His web-slingers (which Stark commented on in Captain America: Civil War were Parker's own invention) are now a weaponized military arsonry as if it’s the video game Contra. He has parachutes, wings, Batman-style X-ray sensors, and apparently a cell phone holder that are completely invisible until it’s convenient to the plot. Worst of all, he has a obnoxious artificial intelligent robot voice in his head who he names Karen that gives him dating advice?!?!?!
Why? Why is ANY of this necessary?!
Not to mention the other questions all this raises. Like:
- If this technology exists, why doesn’t Stark make himself a magic skin tight suit? Why does he have to wear a tank?
- Why doesn’t he make EVERYONE an Iron Man suit? Why does Black Widow get nothing?
- Why even recruit Spider-man? Why not just send out the costume and that bullshit drone?!

Ok ok, so Spider-man is nothing more than a brat with an expensive toy in this film, but what about Peter Parker?
Unfortunately it only gets worse from here…

The filmmakers bragged about Uncle Ben’s absence from this film. Stating that people are sick of seeing him get killed over and over, and I agree. But not mentioning him AT ALL takes away all of Peter Parker’s heart, conflict and humanity! This kid has no reason to be out there other than to try to be cool. Formally Peter Parker is a character who is troubled by the responsibility of doing what is right, despite that it may harm the people that he loves.
Besides the death of his Uncle, what also traditionally motivates Parker are his friends and family. Parker’s love for Mary Jane in the original movie is so real, so romantic, and so iconic. Doesn’t anyone remember how you felt when he kissed her upside down? Doesn't anyone remember how much it crushed him at the end of the film to let her go for worry of her safety? This love interest in the new film is so uninteresting and one dimensional that when the “twist” is reveled that she is the villain's daughter, it doesn't even seem to upset Parker (let alone the audience).
The motivation of Parker in this film is only to become and Avenger. (Why he turns down the opportunity at the end is even more confusing). This isn’t a real character, and it’s hardly Peter Parker. This is truly Penis Parker.

Speaking of his new nickname, theres the obnoxious side characters. It’s clear that they wanted to make this movie have a John Hughes feel to it by paralleling Spider-man’s chase scene with Ferris Bueller, and establishing Breakfast Club-esque high school friends. But it even fails at doing that. Hughes was a master of giving real conflict, real romance, and real emotion to high school comedies. These kids were nothing but a hodge-podge of interracial cliches.
From the fat idiot nerd friend who is a total dumbass until he needs to be a computer genius hacker when it’s convenient to the plot (he felt like Marvel's Jar-Jar). To the brooding Ally Sheedy type of mysterious loner chick who doesn't comb her hair (was she supposed to be a future love interest at the end? Was she supposed to be the new M.J? What the hell is going on?). To the jock bully (even though he’s a dorky unpopular DJ twerp).
None of these characters talked like real people, or gave you any reason to like them. In fact I hated them all. So so much. It’s like a John Hughes movie if every character was Ducky.

Finally I'll mention Michael Keaton’s Vulture. The Vulture in the comics that I remember was an elderly man who discovers technology that keeps him young and drives him crazy. This guy was a successful family man who loses out on a contracting bid. So he takes revenge by building an airplane jet costume and stealing alien weapons so he can sell them on the streets to petty criminals. It was like he hijacked the weapons from the new Ghostbusters movie and forced them into the Marvel Universe.
He was not funny, not scary, not motivated and not even the slightest bit cool. Doesn’t anyone remember the conflicted Willam Dafoe and his smeagol-like mental anguish? Doesn’t anyone recall the tragic Doctor Octopus and how the loss of his wife drove him to madness? Why does Vulture do any of this? Because he lost out on a business deal 8 YEARS AGO?! The end of the movie where he is hijacking an invisible plane is so confusing that I couldn’t even follow what was going on. It was like they brought in Michael Bay as the guest director.

I know a lot of people want to like this movie. I know a lot of people like to pretend that the Marvel Universe is infallible. But it’s been clearly hit or miss since day one. But this film is even more obnoxious than Avengers: Age of Ultron, more pointless then Thor: The Dark World, and more confusing than Doctor Strange. In time, if I’m lucky it will become more forgettable than The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2.

Reboots are bad. Reboots of reboots are worse. We did not need to see Spider-man in high school again. If the Marvel universe really wanted to please their fans they wouldn’t have started over again. They should have taken the character forward.  Maybe they should have re-casted Toby Maguire... (dodges tomato).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Rogue One - A Star Wars Story

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT

One year ago I decided that Star Wars was dead to me.  After seeing the highly anticipated The Force Awakens, I was convinced that there would never be another good Star Wars film ever again. I formally declared that no longer would the anticipation of a new Star Wars movie get me excited anymore.  I’ve been fooled for the last time.  It was time to move on.  Give up.  Be an adult.  Star Wars has been sold out to Disney, who has no interest in actually making a decent movie.  All they care about is cashing in on a franchise that can potentially carry their over-bloated company along after they run out of Marvel characters to exploit.  They’ll just keep hiring more corporate stooges like J.J. Abrams to just remake and reboot the original trilogy over and over for new generations of suckers.

But who cares anymore?  Nothing will ever change, so why even worry about it?  Nobody gets excited for movies anymore anyway.  Movies these days are basically marketing scams that use nostalgia and phony hype to try and trick you into a theater for a mediocre non-refundable waste of two-hours.  The best thing we can hope for is a short distraction from our trivial and stressful lives, and if we’re lucky we may actually be slightly entertained enough to actually remember how it may have used to feel to actually love a movie.

Personally, I’ve started to wonder if love itself even exists.  Isn’t it arguable that love is just some endorphins running through your brain that can be easily replaced by drugs, alcohol, or cutting your arms with a razor blade?  Not that I even remember what love feels like.  Would I even recognize love if it ever happened to me again?  No.  Not possible.  Not anymore…

            The following is why I absolutely loved Rogue One.

Rogue One is so good that I still cannot believe it!  Of all the modern Star Wars movies on Disney’s seemingly never ending roster, how could this be the one that can be this incredible?  It’s another prequel!  ANOTHER PREQUEL!  It’s about a situation that was explained already in the FIRST MOVIE!  We already knew that the rebels are going to get the Death Star plans!  We already knew that nothing really will happen to the characters that we know, and all the new characters were surely going to die.  This movie has absolutely no business being this exciting, or this interesting; and certainly it has no business in being this IMPORTANT to the Star Wars saga!  But it’s more important that I could’ve even imagined possible...

First of all, one of the biggest plot-holes in cinema history has been answered, in an intelligent and completely non-cop-out-ty way!  We now know why the weakness was in the Death Star!  We now know why nobody in the Empire, including Darth Vader knew it was there, and why it was so accessible from an exterior exhaust port!  It was a trap planted by the Death Star’s conflicted lead scientist while he was designing it!  Being a life-long Star Wars fanboy, this revelation knocked the wind out of me.  This plot-hole has been an ongoing joke for decades.  This is Star Wars’ own “the-eagles-should-just-fly-Frodo-to-mordor” dilemma, and now it’s brilliantly solved!  But this isn’t all that Rogue One solves for us geeks…

Rogue One also revealed that the Death Star gets it’s fire power from Kyber crystals.  As I mentioned in my previous Star Wars movie review, I had read a great many of books and comics in the expanded universe; and if this detail was EVER revealed in the past, I had never seen it.  The Death Star’s power had been something that I just accepted as some kind of unexplained laser beam.  But now we know that its powered by the same force-filled crystals that power the light sabers.  Of course they are!  Why wouldn’t they be?  It’s so smart, and so perfect!

We also learned about how secretive the construction of the Death Star was.  With people dying trying to leak out information.  We saw how even internally at the Empire, its construction was controversial and mostly a secret.  (Which makes The Force Awaken’s “Starkiller Base” seem even the more stupider).

We learned about how regular people who are not strong with the force live and can still feel it, like the blind swordsman Chirrup Imre and the Ancient Order of the Whills.  Any true Star Wars fan knows that George Lucas’ original outline was titled Part 1 of the Journal of the Whills.  With there never being any canonical explanation of what the Whills are (usually rumored to be Yoda’s species), the sheer mention of the term proves how this movie was written by true fans.

We also learned about the relationship between Tarkin and Darth Vader, which always used to confuse me.  I never really understood Tarkin’s role in the Empire before.  Was he Vader’s superior?  How did he not know about the Death Star’s weakness?   We now know that Tarkin was a malicious military leader that schemed his way hastily to command the Death Star.  Eager to use it despite what Vader’s opinions might be.  It makes their competitive relationship in Episode IV seem more warranted.

In fact almost everything in Episode IV seems more warranted now.  After seeing the difficulty of stealing the Death Star plans, we now know how crazy and hopeless it seemed to have them floating around inside R2D2 through the entire movie; and how unbelievable it is that they ended up getting brought right back to the Death Star.  The rebellion are mostly just portrayed as the “good guys” in the original trilogy.  But now we can see how bureaucratic, inefficient, and desperate they were before Luke blew up the Death Star.  There’s a masterfully done scene where Mon Mothma and the other rebel leaders discuss what to do with the information that there “might” be a weakness in the Death Star.  It just felt so realistic and conflictive.  Showing a typical scenario of what happens when decisions are made by committee.  When the collective can get nothing done, it becomes up to the individuals.  The rogues

All the new characters in Rogue One felt real and motivated.  Somehow after The Force Awakens just finished force-feeding us politically correct female and ethnic characters, Rogue One manages to do it so naturally that it seems awkward to even point it out.  Jyn Erso is not only an awesome role model for girls, she an amazing role model for boys, adults, the young, and the old!  Not for trivial reasons like being a good fighter, or a funny personality.  Jyn Erso is a role model to everyone because she has PURPOSE.  She knows what’s the right thing to do, and she’ll die for it.  This is the first Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi where the characters have real motivation and purpose.  The Empire is such a real unstoppable evil at this time.  Not like whatever was going on in The Force Awakens.  These characters are desperately watching their family and friends die all around them, and will do anything to stop it, not for fame or glory; but because it’s the right thing to do!  It’s the most nobel group of characters I think I have ever seen.  Even the droid K-2SO is nobel, being a former slave to the Empire, he also knows that he is now fighting on the good side.  He does more than just follow orders, he goes the extra mile to keep from becoming what he ones was.  Unlike that zero-personality idiot BB-8.

It is hard to believe that The Force Awakens came out only a year ago.  Rogue One triumphs over it so embarrassingly that it seems like that it’s already over ten years old.  Everything that I even thought was good about The Force Awakens gets outdone by Rogue One.
I thought that the practical effects were the best part of Force Awakens, but they’re not half as good looking as Rogue One.
I thought the music was great in Force Awakens, but it pales in the spirit and tension that the Rouge One soundtrack has.
For every hokey joke and bad effect there is in The Force Awakens, there’s depth and realness in Rogue One.  (Can you imagine a wise-cracking character like Finn in Rogue One?  It would be painfully out of place!)
I thought that the references in Force Awakens were fun, but they were pathetic compared to seeing it done so tastefully in Rouge One.
This movie wasn’t just about the “member berries” (South Park’s brilliant new symbol for nostalgia’s feel-good effects).  Seeing glimpses of the cantina bar patrons, blue milk, and rouge pilots were not obnoxiously in-your-face; and references to Bail Organa, moisture vaporator farming, and Darth Vader were actually integral to the story.

Speaking of Vader, who would have ever guessed that this would be the movie to finally show Vader at his most ruthless, most scariest, and most badass?!  There were widely publicized reshoots to supposedly make the end of the movie more exciting.  Whatever they did worked, because the climax of the movie is definitely the most thrilling and exciting ending of any Star Wars movie yet… and you ALREADY KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN!  I eat every word I’ve ever said about prequels.  I’ve been the loudmouth claiming that there’s never been a good one in the history of anything!  But now I know that if it’s done right, and if it’s a story that needs to be told, then prequels can not only be great, but make the original movies even better.

The only real complaint I have about the movie is CGI Tarkin.  It looked like a video game character, and it did take me out of the movie every time it was on screen.  I think there are better ways the movie could have inserted Tarkin like only showing him over holograms, in dark lighting, or just briefly like they did with Leia.  It was a poor and disrespectful decision, but I would assume the filmmakers chose to do this rather than re-cast the role in an effort to pair this movie relatively seamlessly to Episode IV, so I consider it forgivable.


In fact I’ll forgive any mistakes that director Gareth Edwards or any of the talented filmmakers behind Rogue One may have made, because of what they managed to accomplish.  Not only did they make a brilliant Star Wars movie, but they made a brilliant movie, period.  More importantly than just giving me back my affection for Star Wars; they gave me something back that I thought I lost when it came to loving movies…

...hope.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why The Jungle Book (2016) is the best movie ever made.

MOSTLY SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

How can anyone make a statement so general as calling something the “best movie ever made?”  Especially someone like me who, generally, “hates everything?”

How dare I make such a statement in 2016, after over 100 years of already established best-movies-ever-mades!  Disney’s new remake of The Jungle Book cannot possibly out-rank other classic best-movies-ever-mades like The Godfather, The Empire Strikes Back, Fight Club, Back to the Future and Casablanca!  What about Lord of the Rings?!  What about Hitchcock?!  What about Kubrick?!

My answer would be, that all of those movies get out-ranked because they are all old and boring.  Hear me out… it’s not that they are boring movies by any means.  It’s just boring to me to continue to call a forty year old movie that you’ve seen a billion times, read a zillion articles about, and have had a ka-jillion biased feelings towards, continue to be, forever considered the best-movie-ever-made.  It’s like those people that hate all “new music” because nothing will ever be as good as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and that is that.  They might be right, but OF COURSE THEY’RE NOT RIGHT!  You gotta live in the NOW people, has Wayne’s World taught you nothing??? What I’m attempting to say is, that in our current smart-phone - A.D.D. - Netflix - lives, nothing matters anymore except what’s new.

Unfortunately, what’s new is usually terrible.  Seems like only once or twice in a year, if we’re lucky, we get a movie that is actually not-terrible.  This year we get The Jungle Book.  It’s such a good movie that it makes me want to scream out clich├ęs like, “Instant classic!” “Disney magic!” “It made me feel like a kid again!” “I can’t wait to see it again!” and “IT’S THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE!”

But, but… What about all the modern/current best-movies-ever-mades, like Inception, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Inside Out?!   What about Tarantino?! What about the Coen Brothers?!  What about Wes Anderson?!

My answer would be, that all those movies get out-ranked because they all have a special targeted audience.  Pixar is for kids, Tarantino is for adults, Wes Anderson is for the sophisticated, and Mad Max is for boys (dodges tomato).   There’s nothing wrong with having a targeted audience, but The Jungle Book wins because it’s for literally, all audiences.  It’s a movie for the masses!  Bring everybody with you when you go see it; the wife, the kids, grandma, the homeless guy down the block, EVERYBODY!  Everybody will love the thrills, the effects, the cute animals, and even the kid!  It’s the kind of movie that will bring people together.  It’s the kind of movie that can save the world!  Nobody cannot love this movie!  ISIS would love this movie!

Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are about how much I loved The Jungle Book.  I certainly wasn’t excepting to.  In fact, I wasn’t sure that I even knew how to love a movie anymore.  I’m usually the first guy griping about how there’s way too many remakes/reboots/sequels/prequels/tie-ins/spin-offs out there.  I ho-hummed at the trailer, complaining that Disney already re-made this movie in the 90’s (if you remember Stephen Sommer’s action/adventure 1994 piece-of-garbage.  The one with 30-year-old-Chinese-kung-fu Mowgli, animals that don’t talk, and John Cleese).  I also dreaded having to endure a pure CGI jungle, and another (shudder) green-screen movie.

But still… it’s the best movie ever made?  EVER???
Well, why not?  The story is simply fantastic, and so, so well written.  Screenwriter Justin Marks (with oddly enough only one screen credit so far… and oddly enough it’s Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-li) succeeded in tributing all the elements that you remember and love, (Mowgli singing on Baloo’s belly, Kaa’s hypnotizing eyes, King Louie’s ruins); with adding new elements that actually seem completely necessary (no the-Grinch-learns-how-to-shave sequences in this one)I can’t say I’m too familiar with the original novel by Rudyard Kipling, but I am very familiar with the original animated 1967 Disney film.  Marks and Director Jon Favreau, prove that the movie did indeed deserve a remake, and now is the right time to make one.  They follow the storyline of the original film, and add just enough to make the plot make even better sense than before, (establishing a real reason for Mowgli’s relationship with Baloo; connections throughout with the “red flower” that tie the themes together nicely; there’s proper motivation for Shere Khan's hatred for Mowgli and mankind, etc).  He also manages to leave out everything that is questionable and ridiculous from the original (jazz music, elephants that act like army soldiers, whiny-pouty Mowgli, those bizarre buzzards that act like The Beatles, etc).

The performances are nothing short of perfect.  Bill Murray is the stand-out as Baloo, Ben Kinsley nailed Bagheera, and all of the rest of voices are very fitting for their various animals.  Even Scarlett Johansson as the snake!  But Neel Sethi’s charming, and surprisingly not-annoying performance as Mowgli steals the show.  Which is such a credit to Favreau, considering that the kid was really just interacting with green backgrounds and people in motion capture ping-pong-outfits.

Speaking of the green-screen, color me impressed!
I saw the movie in 2-D (for lack of a better term), and when there wasn’t long grass involved, the green screen effects were practically seamless!  I completely bought the world they created, and I feel that it was the right decision to Mary Poppins the movie (putting real people in a cartoon world), rather than Roger Rabbit the movie (putting cartoons in a real world).

Also worth mentioning is the music.  It is a perfect mix of the original score from the 1967 movie, with new material by composer John Debney.  The inclusion of the classic songs “Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna be Like You,” felt so natural and welcomed.  The film does not break into song like the ridiculous distractions in most musicals.  The songs fit into the dialogue and the score, with you barely even noticing that they are singing all of a sudden.

I could go on and on.  There’s nothing wrong with this movie, and there’s nothing that I would change.  It is a perfect film, and I declare, that right now, in April of 2016, The Jungle Book is the current, universal, and now-standing BEST MOVIE EVER MADE.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: The Force Awakens


SPOILERS THROUGHOUT

Like so many others, I have been a Star Wars fan for my entire life.   The original trilogy inspired most of my life’s ambitions for as long as I can remember.  For at least a decade of my life, I was so obsessed with Star Wars that I spent all of my free time reading the novels and comics, and pondering what may come in future movies.  Also like so many others, the Star Wars prequels have already disappointed and angered me, to a point where I feel like it “raped my childhood” over and over again until I eventually have become so violated that I lost my trust in American cinema, and I feel like I can never truly enjoy a film ever again!

But I was excited for The Force Awakens.  It looked phenomenal, with classic looking effects and characters that made me feel like a kid again.  It looked like an instant classic, and maybe it would remind me why I used to love films.   Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia are all back and all appropriate age for a whole new generation of movies.  That ego-maniac George Lucas is out of the picture and this movie looked like it was for me!  The loyal fan!  I was ready for the Star Wars I remembered.  The Star Wars that I loved.  It’s time to come together as a society and watch a movie that we all can love and all can enjoy!

The following is why I didn’t enjoy The Force Awakens.

First of all, I’ve read the books.  So so many books.  The “Star Wars Expanded Universe” series of novels and comics chronicle just about every minute of what “happens” to our favorite characters from the very moment after the Ewok party in Return of the Jedi.  When Disney bought Star Wars a couple years ago, it was announced that the entire “Expanded Universe” is now non-canon (meaning no longer the official storyline) and the new films are going to tell their own story.  This news kind of felt like a punch to the gut, but I got over it quickly because first, the novels were never that good, and second, because as I mentioned before Star Wars has already “raped my childhood” to a point where I simply didn’t care.  After seeing the trailers and getting a taste of “The Force Awakens,” I was very excited to see a new story and start fresh.  Unfortunately “The Force Awakens” is basically the same as every Star Wars novel ever.

What happens in the novels is this: Some new bad guy gathers the remnants from the Empire and creates some kind big weapon more powerful than the Death Star.  Meanwhile, Luke starts a Jedi school and Leia becomes a boring politician and has kids with Han.  That’s just in the first 3 books.  The story continues for years, as some Jedis go bad, one of Han’s kids go bad, and there are always new villains who make even new bigger Death Stars over and over again.
The Force Awakens changed things up a bit here and there.  Han and Leia didn’t have 3 kids, and the names are all mixed up, and Chewbacca is still alive, but it’s basically the same as the novels.

Ok.  Fine.  I can live with that.  I can also live with the fact that the rest of the story is practically a shot-for-shot remake of A New Hope.  Fine.  I get that too.  In fact I can’t blame them for that.  It’s boring, but it’s safe, I get it.  I even understand other aspects, like how films these days need to pander to foreign audiences.  That’s why all the characters have easily translatable one-syllable names and why the dialogue has to stay so simple.  I get all of this, and it’s all understandable and forgivable to me.

What I don’t understand is why the new characters have to be so flat and undeveloped.  The only people I cared about in The Force Awakens are Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke (and maybe Finn).  Every other character has absolutely no character development, so I had a hard time caring about them or their stories.

Lets start with Girl-Luke (Mary-Sue).  Rey has no backstory, no motivation, and no personality.  She is thrown into the story out of blind luck and chance (the force?) and stumbles her way into being the Jedi-pilot that everyone in the world has dreamed of being their entire lives.  Why does she get to be so lucky?  It’s not fair!  She gets to be a Jedi AND pilot the Millennium Falcon?  Where does she get off?!?!  Luke Skywalker is a perfect example of a well-developed character.  In the first 5 minutes that we meet him, we learn who he is, what he wants in life, what he does for work, where he goes to waste time with his friends, and most of all, we learn that he is a good and likeable person.  Rey is a girl who was orphaned and she’s apparently a good pilot and a scavenger of some kind, who is strong with the force and um… she likes to… um… and uh… she’s cute.  We know nothing about her.  I understand that we might learn more about her in future movies, but that doesn’t make me like her in this one.  Not to mention that she’s most likely related to everyone.   I’m really looking forward to the pivotal “Rey I am your father,” scene in the next movie.  I wonder if she’ll reply with, “Well no duh!”

How about that Not-Darth-Vader/Not-Jacen-Solo?  Kylo Ren is Han and Leia’s whiney brat of a dumbass kid who idolizes Darth Vader.  As you know Darth Vader was an evil cyborg who rose in the ranks of the Empire simply because he was strong with the force.  He went on to accomplish nothing, and failed time after time as he was responsible for the destruction of 2 Death Stars, and never even managed to kill his arch-enemy or a single one of his wayward friends.  So you can see why Kylo Ren would want to follow in those footsteps.  I know, I know, he was seduced to the dark side by Snoke and the First Order.  Sure.  That makes sense because Kylo Ren has always been such a bad kid.  I mean I’m guessing he was a bad kid, because we never know anything about his character because he’s COMPLETELY undeveloped!

Speaking of Not-Palpatine.  Supreme Leader Snoke.  What the hell?  So I’m supposed to believe there is some ancient dark side master CGI mummy guy that is rebuilding the Empire and he just happened to be absent from the last 6 movies? 

What about Girl-Yoda?  You know the 1000 year old friend-to-the-force who works in the “Not-Mos-Eisley-Cantina,” who possesses the lightsaber Luke lost in Empire, and has known Han Solo for years but nobody ever mentioned before in 6 movies.

How about Not-R2D2?  BB-8 is such an interesting droid.  He’s from the planet… um… and he likes to uh… well he’s a ball… and an awesome Christmas gift!

What about Not-Wedge?  Poe!  The pilot!  He was cool, right?  I wish I knew more about him.  Like who that guy was that gave him that map, or how did he get his droid, or if he likes peanut butter or ANYTHING!

Finn actually has a backstory.  He’s a soldier trained since birth, who cowardly deserts his troop at the first sight of blood… and he likes white chicks.  He basically carries the movie.  Which makes sense because he has absolutely no plan or idea what he’s doing.

There are so many great things in The Force Awakens.  So many that I’m not going to list them all here.  (We all know it looked great, it hit all the right nostalgia buttons, and it was much better than the prequels).

There are so many ridiculous things in The Force Awakens as well.  So many that I’m not going to list them all here either.  (We all know it’s stupid that they just stumble on the Millennium Falcon the same day Han Solo is looking for it, the same day pirates are looking for him because something about smuggling those dumb looking squid monsters, the same day the giant planet gun thing blows up six planets that no one cares about, the same day Rey finds a lightsaber, and the same day Han an Leia reunite, and it never shows anyone ever going to the bathroom).

In the end all that matters are the characters, and the only character that matters in The Force Awakens is Han Solo.  I think that all anyone will remember about this movie in 10 years is that it’s the "one where Han Solo dies."  This was Han’s movie, and I am thankful and so happy that I got to see him and Chewie fly the Millennium Falcon one more time.   I’m glad that he had a family with Leia and they had some good times, and that he lived well into his seventies looking that good.  Han deserved all that.  His final scene may have been wooden and a bit predictable, but it was also heroic and satisfying.   This is what happens when a character is well developed.  You root for him, you cheer for him, you almost consider him a friend.  Han Solo was a hero, a charmer, and a good dude until his dying breath, and will go down in history as one of the greatest characters of all time.  Not like that bumbling crystal-skull-hunting loser Indiana Jones.

The past few weeks have been so exciting for me.  For the first time since I can remember, I was actually looking forward to seeing a movie sequel.  I re-watched the original trilogy, I re-watched the terrible prequels (with Rifftrax), and I was so ready to love Star Wars again.  Instead I’m disappointed…  But not “prequel disappointed.” My childhood doesn’t feel “raped.”  But I do feel “Star Wars-novels-are-no-longer-canon disappointed.” Meaning that I’m back to not caring.  I’ll watch the future Star Wars movies.  I’ll watch the future Star Wars spin-off movies as well.  But I’m done being excited.