Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Rise of Skywalker is a Film Designed by a Committee

Rise of Skywalker is a Film Designed by a Committee, and when we say that we mean not only an indictment of how the Lucasfilm and Disney execs worked over the story, but the obvious and huge retcons of the story line not only from eps 7 and 8, but also the original trilogy.

In the original trilogy, we cared about the characters. We were curious and even inspired by the force and samurai wizard mentors such as Obi-Wan and Yoda dishing out ice cream koans like [The Force is] “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together” and “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Episodes 7, 8 and 9 eschew the samurai warrior/wizard mentor stuff and goes for an origin story of the protagonist Rey. But after three movies, we still know almost nothing about her, and she knows almost nothing about her origins. Why is it that so many strong female characters are devalued by spending their entire story line angsting about “who am I?” I mean does John Wick or James Bond get all emo about their identity?

Special effects are wonderful, of course. The script is just miserable. Lawrence Kasdan this is not. Acting is serviceable. Adam Driver still seems weirdly miscast to me as an evil Sith wannabe overlord. He comes off more like a creepy abusive satanist boyfriend. Daisy Ridley gives a solid performance as Rey. She really gives it her all physically and emotionally. Her whole fierce elf aesthetic made me think of Elfquest.

The music was not John Williams. It was bombastic, overly dramatic and had only sound and fury, nothing really memorable or lyrical.

One of the things which made Fury Road a great movie was how the battles were set up, you could tell exactly who was where doing what. Ep 9 is the opposite, it’s a huge mess.

Trying not to be too spoilerish but there are also big issues in terms of even the internal logic of the third trilogy leading to a problematic and improbable deus ex machina.

The best I can say about ep 9 is that it re-retconned a lot of the scurrilous and disrespectful retcons in ep 8. But continuity is out the window totally. And for folks who enjoy the Old Republic and the legends continuities these three last Star Wars films gave us nothing and disrespected or devalued a lot of what we thought we knew.

Skywalker is a well-made movie in terms of production values. As a story, it is very unfullfilling as a way of ending the Skywalker series and fails in theme, plot, characterization, and continuity.

2 of 4 stars.

Copyright © 2019 Henry Edward Hardy

20 December, 2019 Posted by | scanlyze, Skywalker | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thor and Hulk’s Big Adventure

I saw the premiere of Thor:Ragnarok tonight at the IMAX theater at Assembly Row in Somerville, MA, USA tonight. Some initial thoughts.

==spoilers==
==also, I’m assuming you have seen the movie or already know the basic plot==

The 2 hours plus seemed like an hour, so it definitely did not drag. And some people remained in their seats even after the second stinger at the end of the credits, so they might still have been processing their queue due to information overload.

Kudos to Disney and Marvel for letting hundreds of millions ride on such a strange film by such a strange director. I will definitely go see Waititi’s other films now!

The film is almost a montage and somewhat defies conventional analysis but here goes.

Plot. Yeah there is a plot, two in fact. An “A” plot which is an abbreviated retelling of the Planet Hulk story and a “B” plot which is the eponymous Ragnarok, the Norse Twilight of the Gods.

The Planet Hulk story takes up the majority of the time, but it seems curiously pointless as the story’s climax and epilogue of how Sakaar was liberated and ruled by Hulk has fallen out. Similarly, Miek, who provides the comic relief and had a nice character arc, here is voiceless and kind of a pointless CGI creature/bug/person/thing.

The “B’ plot, such as it is, amounts to “evil throne usurper sibling syndrome” so that’s mostly predictable, though there are some nice aversions.

The characterization is accomplished through physical comedy, the budding bromance of Hulk and Thor, and by some pretty wonderful and loose acting by everyone except Anthony Hopkins, who seems like he was stuffed and reanimated for his bit.

The Sakaar setting is a Jack Kirby delight and includes shoutouts to everything from 2001 to Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Asgard is rather boring and CGI-ish but serviceable.

Looking back at my first reaction piece to the first trailer, I got most things right, so pat on the back for me. Thor Ragnarok Teaser Trailer Looks like Big Fun

Where I think this movie works is as a comedic deconstruction of the Thor movies, cartoon movies and movie tropes in general. There’s a lot of trope aversions and one extremely meta scene near the beginning. The acting is really delightful and in a way it reminds me of District Nine in the brave way the script got trashed and replaced with some very funny improvised bits.

Given the way the stock characters from the comics are manipulated for satirical and humorous effect, this film might be termed a “superhero comedy of manners.”

I’d say don’t get your hopes up too high, and maybe be a little loose and relaxed before you go, and it will be a fun time. 4/5 stars.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

scanlyze1

3 November, 2017 Posted by | comedy, movie, scanlyze, Thor, Waititi | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment