After the massive epic that was Avengers Endgame, a smaller story to actually close stuff off may seem like an odd choice. And yet? Well, it may have been what was needed.
Bringing back director Jon Watts and the cast of Homecoming, we get a personal story in which Peter Parker really just wants to go on his school trip abroad and confess his love to MJ. But things are complicated. It turns out that pretty much every major character from Homecoming was caught up in the snap. And now they have to deal with the fact that all their classmates are now five years older. The film explores some rather interesting aspects…like all the returned people who were displaced. Peter and May found themselves homeless, which was one of those things you just do not thing about in the grand schemes.
It turns out that Nick Fury is trying to reach Spider-Man, but Peter refuses to take his calls. But once on vacation in Italy, the class comes under attack by a water monster, which is defeated by Mysterio. A mysterious man who Nick Fury informs Peter is from an alternate earth where he fought the threat of elemental men that are now plaguing Peter’s world.
Far From Home bumps up certain characters too much bigger roles, and it is to the benefit of the film. Holland and Zendaya have real chemistry and their storyline is both adorable and a lot of fun.
The Mysterio storyline is really well done. There is a scene where his illusion powers is straight up the stuff of the comics. The visuals in the film are terrific and Gyllenhaal gives a solid performance.
Unlike Homecoming, Happy seems more invested in Peter and Spider-Man. This makes sense on a few levels, but I really did enjoy their interactions in the film.
I really enjoyed this latest outing, even more than Homecoming. It is funny, has heartfelt moments, good performances and great visual effects. Oh, and stay for the Mid and Post Credit scenes. They are game changing moments.
Set in the 1995, Vers is a Kree warrior. She struggles with no memory of her life past six years. The Kree are in a war with the shape shifting Skrulls. Vers and a few Skrulls end up on earth, and Vers is in a race against time to locate the MacGuffin. She finds herself allied with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nicholas Fury.
Vers starts to put her life back together with the aid of Fury as the Skrulls close in, all while Vers awaits the arrival of her fellow Kree.
The film is action packed. Captain Marvel (Vers) is one of the more powerful of the Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes, but hardly over powered. The action sequences are pretty exhilarating with good effects. The Skrulls are pretty cool looking, matching fairly closely their comic book counterparts. I really liked their transformation process.
The Relationship of Vers (who learns she if from earth and was named Carol) and her fellow pilot Maria works quite well. In fact, I really like the little team the film assembles. And then there is Goose the cat. Greatest movie cat ever.
The film has Stan Lee’s final cameo and it has an extra layer if you are especially observant. Since this is set after Captain America the First Avenger and before Iron Man, there is a slight bit of prequelitis, where the film acknowledges some stuff that happens in later films. You know…answering the questions we never had. For the most part, these are unobtrusive. But there was really only one bit that really made me groan. The film is largely self contained, so it does not lose to much focus from that.
Captain Marvel has faced some definite hurdles. It got pushed from 2017 to 2019 to make room for other films. The one other film to get moved (the Inhumans) actually went through a drastic change into a television series. Add to that a campaign against the film by certain folks who saw it as the opportunity to send a message to Disney and Marvel about “SJW Politics”. These folks also went on a crusade against star Brie Larson. Larson made a reasonable concern over a lack of diversity in journalists at press junkets, only to have people twist her words into a caricature and accusing her of saying things like she “hoped white men did not see Captain Marvel”. On Jimmy Kimmel, she joked about how she and Sam Jackson “hate the same people” and this was made out to be a reference to fandom (she made no mention of fandom).
Add in attempts to review bomb (put negative reviews of a product in order to create a false view of a majority of negativity. Often this is done to new product from creators who have committed the crime of having opinions) and the film had a bit of an uphill climb.
So…is Captain Marvel a hardcore Feminist and SJW screed?
No. In fact, if that is your perception of the film? Actual Feminism will kill you.
What the film actually is? Quite a lot of fun. No, it does not rewrite the script on the MCU. But I had a great time and the audience I saw it with were very into the film, even clapping after it ended.
After 2000’s Unbreakable, there was a lot of talk that this was almost meant to be part of a trilogy. Shyalaman has been all over the map. He claimed he had no such plans when Unbreakable first came out…but about a year later talked about sequels. And I really loved Unbreakable. I wanted to get those follow ups. I wanted to see what David Dunn would do next.
When Split was revealed as a stealth sequel to Unbreakable, I was thrilled. And the trailers had me quite excited for Glass. So, did Shyalaman create a great trilogy?
Well, when David Dunn and his son (who run a security business together, and also work together in stopping crime) interfere with the Horde’s (the nickname for the character from Split) attempt to kill another group of young women, the two are captured by the authorities. They are sent to an institution where they are introduced to Dr. Ellie Staple. She specializes in people who believe they have powers.
Her goal is to help them realize they are suffering a delusion.
The film makes it very clear that she is wrong, of course…and that is one of the problems of the film. Staple clearly represents Shyalaman’s critics. This is a petty bit of behavior that stretches back to at least Lady In the Water, in which Bob Balaban’s critic is presented as a fool who does not understand true genius. And that gets portrayed here. Except it is a little worse. Here, Ellie is an insincere critic, and she is arguable a central villain, rather than an oblivious one.
The film has some annoying retcons in its plans of revealing that Glass is an even bigger architect than we realized (to be fair, the retcon does not suggest Glass intended for this, it was just a convenient byproduct of his acts in Unbreakable).
Add to this the fact that the film does lean hard into the notion that the Horde is actually a separate thing from his superpower…it really undermines any defense agains criticisms of the portrayal of the Horde and mental health.
There are some things I like. McAvoy does a great job in his performance. Jackson gives the kind of solid performance I expect. I also appreciate that both David Dunn and Mrs. Price are played by the same actors who played the roles in Unbreakable (the same for the Comic Shop Owner).
The reveal that all three films represented an origin story is a bit…deflating. I mean, people complain about the decompressed storytelling of modern comics…but Brian Michael Bendis never took nineteen years to tell one story.
The film seems to unload twist upon twist in the final act and that gets tiring. Glass is an underwhelming and disappointing ending to the Unbreakable story.
After the wild success of the Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan re-teamed with Bruce Willis for another film. Of course, everyone wanted to know what he would do next.
Bruce Willis is David Dunn, a regular guy with a wife and kid whose life is forever changed when he is the lone survivor of a massive commuter train wreck. But it is not that he simply lived…he walked away without a scratch.
A stranger, Elijah Price enters his world who is convinced that Dunn is a uniquely gifted man. He pushes David to look to his past, where David realizes he rarely has been sick, save one event. But aside from a near drowning, he has never broken a bone and can be very hard to hurt in general. Price convinces the skeptical David that he has amazing powers…he is strong, semi-impervious and also has a… sixth sense, if you will, that allows him to get a sense of a person when he touches them.
He starts to use this to stop criminals, trusting Elijah. The film juxtaposes the two men. While Willis’ Dunn is seemingly indestructible, Elijah suffers from a unique condition in which his bones are severely fragile. So fragile that the most minor of pressure can shatter a bone. But where his body is in constant danger of destruction, his intellect is great. His power is the strength of his mind.
This works really well. You see how Elijah is able to push David to become a believer in his situation, to embrace his power, in spite of his early skepticism. This also brings he and his son closer, as his son is excited by the idea that his father is a super-hero.
I really appreciate how Willis’ performance grounds the film. You find yourself unsure if you can trust your eyes. But you cannot help but hope it is true…that David is not being manipulated into buying into a delusion. And Elijah Price’s certainly helps the viewer.
The movie does have a twist, but in comparison to the Sixth Sense, it seems a bit less…drastic. It is absolutely a game changer, as the film is set up as a realistic super-hero origin story. This is one of Shyamalan’s best films. Willis and Jackson deliver terrific performances in a compelling story.
Right before the film starts, the cast and crew pop up on screen to tell us the fourteen year wait for the sequel will totally be worth it. Not exactly needed of course. Hey, my butt is already in the seat.
The original Incredibles film was a fun comic book film that was doing that Marvel type of action four years before we got Iron Man. Probably of all the Pixar films, the Incredibles was one of the few that readily seemed to be set for sequels. But when asked, Pixar tended to defer to the availability of Brad Bird.
After the collapse of the highly anticipated Tomorrowland…Pixar got their chance.
Set shortly after the end of the first film, we discover things did not go so well. People still feel that the heroes do more damage than good. Enter brother and sister Winston and Evelyn Deavor. They want to convince the world that super-heroes are necessary, and so they convince Helen Parr to resume life as Elastigirl (noting she had a much lower history of property damage). Bob, on the other hand, becomes a stay at home dad. Bob really wants to be fighting as Mr. Incredible, but he is trying to step back and be a supportive husband ad father.
A lot of the moments I enjoyed most were with Bob and the kids. While the first film revealed baby Jack Jack to have a variety of powers, the Parr family never actually witnessed it. While Bob is initially excited, he finds it taxing, one more problem along with trying to help Dash with schoolwork and Violet come to terms with a frustrating love life. There is a genuinely sweet moment when Bob is exhausted and apologizes for not being the father he wants to be…Violet has a look of kindness as she reaches out to reassure him. It is a really sweet moment.
Flipping the situation for Helen and Bob works very well in the film. The Elastigirl scenes are fun and exciting. There is a great fight scene where she is in the position of having to keep her eyes closed to avoid being hypnotized. Bird and company make this quite exciting.
The film also gives us something new, which is other Supers beyond the Parr family and Frozone. This leads to an action packed finale where saving everybody actually falls onto the Parr kids.
The Brad Bird voiced Edna Mode returns for a fun sequence that explores Jack Jack’s abilities.
I feel Pixar has created a pretty successful sequel here that compliments the original film quite well.
John Hammond has built an amazing and elaborate theme park. One like no other, and he has spared no expense. But as they prepare to go a live, there is a deadly accident. His investors demand professionals endorse the safety of the park.
Hammond enlists Paleontologist Alan Grant and Paleobotanist Ellie Sattler, while the corporate lawyer brings in the “Chaotician” Ian Malcolm. At first, they are not fully sure what their presence is required for…until they discover that Jurassic Park is no ordinary vacation place. Hammond’s company has perfected cloning to the point that they are able to use DNA to create new dinosaurs.
While at first awed by what they see, the three scientists start to question the decision to bring dinosaurs back into our world. The lawyer, meanwhile, is seduced by visions of money (“And we can charge anything we want, $2,000 a day, $10,000 a day…and people will pay it”).
Along with his grandchildren (Hammond’s target audience), Hammond sends everyone on the tour. The crew has left for the weekend, leaving a very small staff. Pretty much just Hammond, Ray Arnold (who runs the control room), Dennis Nedry (His IT guy) and Muldoon. Muldoon is a groundskeeper of sorts. An experienced big game hunter, he is also security in regards to things dinosaur related.
However, as one would expect…most anything that can go wrong does and our characters find themselves trying to regroup and get off the island without getting eaten.
As you would expect from a Spielberg adventure film, Jurassic Park is an exciting film full of great performances. Jeff Goldblum’s Malcolm is especially entertaining in his over the top personality.
The film walks the line of challenging capitalism and corporate greed, without going all out for it. The lawyer represents the villainous corporate world, not Hammond. Hammond is the kindly grandfather with grand dreams of sharing his creation with the world. This is a change from the book, where Hammond is a much darker character who has a rather gruesome fate.
The film’s effects were groundbreaking for the time…and while it is a bit clearer now to see where the dinosaurs switch from digital to practical effects, the visuals in the film are still good enough to not be all that distracting today. It is easy to get lost in the excitement and danger of Jurassic Park.
Spielberg’s Jaws begot Joe Dante’s Piranha which begot more man eating fish movies. One of the most fun of these films was the 1999 smart sharks thriller Deep Blue Sea. A fun film starring Thomas Jane, Samuel Jackson, Saffron Burrows and LL Cool J, Deep Blue Sea has become a bit of a cult classic. In spite of painfully dated (and weak) CGI sharks (though the mechanical sharks used in the film are quite impressive) the film still holds up as a solid b-movie thriller.
So, to capitalize on the success of the original, nineteen years later we have a sequel. Shark conservationist Misty is hired by the billionaire Carl Durant to offer her expertise with his special project involving sharks. She is introduced by “loving” shots of her diving with sharks in a sexy wet suit accompanied by a theme song that literally contains the phrase “the Deep Blue Sea”.
Along with Misty is a scientist couple Leslie and Daniel Kim. Durant is using genetically modified sharks to try and create a powerful serum. The purpose of the serum are vague, and Durant is revealed to be injecting himself with the serum and it appears to be destroying his mind.
The plot is essentially the same. The characters are trapped in a sinking research lab besieged by super smart sharks. Oddly, we do not see them deal with the sharks all that much as the main threat is actually the babies of the lead shark. The babies hunt in a big pack and behave like the piranha in the Piranha movies.
These changes don’t really make the film feel all that fresh…and the motive of Durant is laughable terrible. In the original film, the obsessed scientists were trying to create a cure for Alzheimer’s. It was a noble cause where you could totally understand the risks they took. But in Deep Blue Sea 2? Durant’s goal is to create a serum to genetically modify people to prepare for the coming robotic/AI takeover. He is trying to prepare for the arrival of Skynet.
The movie also has a lot of callbacks to the first film, but all they do is remind you how much better those scenes were in the original. Probably the only area where the film has an improvement is the CGI sharks look better.
Deep Blue Sea 2 is a prime example of the “Unnecessary Sequel”. It fails to live up to the original and yet cannot even manage to be the realm of so bad it is good. It comes close to that edge, but never manages to fall over it.
In a lot of ways, Cell is an update of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. King has replaced the mall full of zombies as the representation of mindless consumption with modern technology. Specifically Cell phones.
Clay Riddell is a graphic novelist who is returning home to his estranged wife and son after after a year away pursuing his dream of selling a graphic novel. After arriving home, he is talking to his wife and son when his cell phone dies. He calls them back on an airport pay phone, but suddenly, everything is interrupted by a high pitch noise being emitted from cell phones. People start frothing at the mouth and then start attacking everyone around them.
Clay tries to avoid being attacked, making his way down to the subways, where he finds several survivors. He learns the subways train is shut down due to the emergency, and tries to convince everyone to make a run in the tunnels. Only two people, Tom (the train conductor) and another young man join him. They are attacked in the tunnels and make their way to the surface, with Clay and Tom making it out alive. They make it to Tom’s apartment, where they run into a young woman named Alice. One of Clay’s neighbors, she is shaken as she has had to kill her mother to save herself. They proceed to make their way across the the state as they meet various survivors and try and avoid the zombies.
Like the book, the source of the “zombie” (these are not actual zombies, the individuals are alive) infection is cell phones. And like the book, the actual source is never revealed. The movie tries to explain the infection in general terms, though never going as far as King’s original novel. The infected in the book are slowly mutated, opening their minds to new abilities, such as levitation. The movie includes the notion of the hive mind, with Clay realizing they can see where people are through the eyes of any of the “zombies”. And early on, Stacy Keach’s headmaster suggests it is a new stage of evolution. The infected “sleep” at night, which the sole remaining student Jordan suggests that the people are having their brains “updated” with new programming.
Clay’s goal is to locate his son, and the intelligence behind the infected use this to draw him out. For reasons that are never clear, it is implied that Clay is important to the infected, which ends up being undermined by the end of the film.
King adapted his novel as far back as 2009, and had help from Adam Alleca (screenwriter of the Last House on the Left remake). The film’s largest change is the ending. The book had a sad, but emotionally engaging ending. King states he took a lot of crap for the book’s ending and so he changed it for the film. Here, King opts for an ending more depressing than the Mist.
This was a film I was excited to see. I recall when I read the book thinking the beginning would make the most intense twenty minutes of a movie. And yet, somehow, the film feels like it downplays the terror of the opening events.
The film often fails to create tension. And both of the film’s big event moments are dragged down by uninspired digital visuals.
That said, the performances are good. Samuel L. Jackson’s Tom is one of his quieter performances. This is not the loud and brash stock Samuel L. Jackson performance (which is usually pretty darn enjoyable). And John Cusack tends to be able to make characters who do lousy things (like walk out on his wife and kid to chase comic book dreams) still come across as sympathetic. He becomes more and more desperate, making some pretty terrible choices. Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan) is strong as Alice. Anthony Reynolds turns in a terrific manic performance as a Ray, a man so disturbed by his dreams, he has avoided sleep for days.
But unfortunately, none of these save Cell from being a mediocre adaption of a Stephen King novel. Sure, this is not Sleepwalkers or Maximum Overdrive…but those films are almost so awful that they become amusing. Cell is just pretty average.
And finally…we see how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader!
Spoilers are about to slice through here like a lightsaber through butter!
Opening in the tail end of the Clone Wars, we begin in the middle of a heated space Battle. The Jedi and the Clone Army are trying to rescue Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from the Separatist leadership of Count Dooku and General Grievous. Anakin and Obi Wan end up in Grievous’ ship. The fight Dooku, who again knocks Obi Wan out quickly (Obi Wan is looking pretty incompetent here). This time, Anakin gets the upper hand, and at the encouragement of Palpatine, beheads Dooku.
Remember my complaint about how they killed Darth Maul in the first film? Revenge of the Sith does sort of do my suggestion. Christopher Lee has a great expression of fear on his face as he realizes Sidious (Palpatine) is wanting him to be killed by Anakin. Except, it occurs at the beginning of the film, making it not a special line being crossed. Sure, it indicates Palpatine’s growing influence, but it is not that last step before accepting the role of Darth Vader. And Dooku has not been a character really built up. We barely got to know him. I believe he appeared a bit in the Clone Wars cartoon on the Cartoon Network, but in the movies, he never gets to be a major heavy. Like Mace Windu, he is primarily earning credibility via the face in the role.
General Grievous, a character introduced in the Clone Wars cartoon, escapes in a lifeboat, while sending his warship plummeting down towards Corsucant’s surface. Anakin and Obi Wan manage an amazing crash landing.
Padme reveals that she is pregnant. Though worried about people discovering their secret relationship, Anakin is overjoyed by the news. However, he is soon beset by nightmares of Padme dying while giving birth.
Anakin is asked to spy on Chancellor Palpatine for the Jedi Council while Obi Wan checks on a lead for General Grievous. Anakin is uncomfortable with this, as Palpatine has taken on a mentoring role and even a father figure for him. Palpatine starts to drop hints about the power of the Dark Side, especially the power to save and even resurrect life.
Obi Wan finds and confronts Grievous. Grievous is actually kind of a neat character. A bit of a proto-Darth Vader, he is an alien cyborg. Like Obi Wan said of Vader, Grievous is more machine than man. He collects lightsabers of fallen Jedi, and his arms split from two to four. This creates a pretty cool visual where he spins his arms while holding four lightsabers.
Obi Wan manages to send Grievous packing into the great galaxy beyond. Meanwhile, Anakin is troubled by the realization that Palpatine is a Sith Lord. Palpatine has control of the Republic and is secretly leading the Separatists.
After learning of the news from Anakin, Mace brings several Jedi to take Palpatine into custody. He surprises them and manages to kill all the Jedi except Mace. Mace proves far stronger, and has Palpatine’s back (literally) against the wall.
While trying to use his force lightning against Mace, Anakin arrives. Palpatine begs Anakin for mercy. Windu is ready to kill Palpatine, stating there is no other option, but Anakin states he should face trial, not merely executed on Mace’s whim. Mace refuses and as he goes to strike, Anakin chops off Mace’s hand. Sidious takes this opportunity to fire another Force Lightning blast and launch Mace out a window to his death.
Now, I always assumed that the Emperor’s appearance was him being old (there was also once a version that he was constantly cloning himself, and the clone bodies were breaking down, but this is no longer canon).
Apparently, however, it is a result of expending ridiculous amounts of energy. He anoints Anakin as Darth Vader. He sends out the secret Order 66, which commands the clone soldiers to kill any Jedi they are with.
Now, Ben Kenobi told Luke how Darth Vader hunted down and slaughtered the Jedi. But it turns out he was not the frontline for this. Instead, he is sent to the temple looking all tough and scary…
To kill a bunch of little kids.
And while that is monstrous, it also makes Vader seem like less of a threat in general. He kills the easy prey, while the Clones are killing fully trained Jedi. Darth Vader is then sent to the Mustafar system, on a volcanic planet to remove the separatists. Obi Wan and Yoda survive the attempts on their life. Obi Wan and a very pregnant Amidala go to find Anakin.
Yoda takes on Darth Sidious in a powerful battle, leaping around and dodging Sidious’ attacks.
Yoda ultimately slips away and meets with Senator Bail Organa. Both Sidious and Vader proclaim the Jedi have attempted a coup, forcing Organa and Yoda to flee. When Obi Wan and Amidala reach the volcanic planet, they try and talk Anakin down, so to speak. But he believes they are betraying him, and starts to force choke Amidala. This results in a dramatic life and death lightsaber duel in the middle of flowing rivers of lava.
Obi Wan delivers one of the dumbest lines of the entire franchise. “Only Sith deal in Absolutes”. It makes a certain amount of sense regarding Obi Wan’s attitudes towards facts in the original trilogy. But it is just a dumb line, as we saw Jedi dealing in absolutes just…heck…twenty minutes earlier. As the fight concludes, Obi Wan cuts off Anakin’s arms and legs. There is a lot of dramatic but weird dialog. Obi Wan laments that Anakin was his friend, he was supposed to bring balance to the force, yadda yadda yadda.
And then he leaves Anakin to slowly burn to death.
The Emperor pops over and picks up Anakin. Then we get scenes of Amidala giving birth, while Darth Vader is encased in his new suit. Amidala dies as she looks upon her twins. They give Leia to Organa and take Luke to Anakin’s half brother Owen Lars. Because if you want to hide a kid from his dad, his family is probably the best place. And you know, don’t give him the last name of Owen or anything. And seriously, Amidala died why? Other than she had to as a plot contrivance? They seriously don’t have the technology to save her? She appears to have died of a broken heart. Really?
And speaking of Amidala? She is practically set dressing in the film. Poor Natalie Portman is sidelined the majority of the film to be Anakin’s plot device.
I really found the prequel film rules about the things like the Rule of Two, which states there are only two Sith Lords at a time. A master and an apprentice. This makes no real sense, and the original films had no such implication. The idea that there would only be two Sith in comparison to endless Jedi seems bizarre. Within the legends (books and comics, mostly), this is also challenged by Darth Plagueis, who was the master to Palpatine. But the rule makes no real sense, because it is not a notion that there is like a single Sith Emperor over all other Sith…It is literally that there are two Sith at a time.
Nobody has any real chemistry in this film. It just feels like everyone is delivering their dialog so they can be done with it.
In spite of this, Revenge of the Sith (a title meant to recall the original working title of Return of the Jedi) is far from the worst of the prequels. The first twenty minutes are terrific. The various action sequences that follow are quite good, especially the Mustafar battle.
I also like how the technology of the world feels fresh and shiny, like this is everything at it’s heights. Contrasting that with episodes four through six where everything seems old and broken, like the rule of the Empire has crushed any sense of beauty and design and left only the most industrial sense of design.
But unfortunately, the entire prequel series was obsessed with answering questions nobody had. And this one is no different, making a mad rush to pack in stuff we don’t really need. The film takes place twenty years before a New Hope. And we get a shot of Gran Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader watching the beginning of the Death Star. Now, is the idea it could take twenty years to build the Death Star is not implausible. But they built a second Death Star with totally different specs in a couple years. Infant Leia sees Amidala, while infant Luke’s eyes are closed. Why? Because in Return of the Jedi? Leia tells Luke that she remembers her mother’s smile. Luke cannot remember anything about her. It is like Lucas sat down and watched the original films making a list of things he thinks have to be in the new films.
However, the three prequels just never meet the goal of being a great new trilogy, because they are bogged down in weird choices of storytelling and fan service.
The Star Wars machine keeps plugging on. Episode one had a rather mixed reception, but it made money. It would have taken a catastrophic return to derail new trilogy.
The film would make a jump and start to try and “right the ship” so to speak. As much as Lucas tried to defend Jar Jar Binks, his role gets diminished greatly in both this and the next film.
And let us go back on our spoilerific journey!!!! Send in the clooooooones!
Picking up around ten years after the Phantom Menace, Amidala is now a Senator. This is, funny enough how they move Jar Jar out of the picture…he is a representative for Naboo. But anyways, after an attack on her ship as she arrives on Corsucant, the Jedi Council sends Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to protect the Senator.
Anakin apparently still has his crush on Amidala, who is shocked to see Ani went from nine year old boy to a good looking teenager. They plan to stand guard in her apartment as they also try and determine how best to investigate the attempt on her life.
The investigation gets a boost though when a second attempt is made by letting to poisonous bugs into her bedroom. Artoo derails the attempt by alerting the Jedi. They pursue the shadowy killer through the skies of Corsucant (the skies are full with levels of traffic).
This leads to an exciting chase sequence with Anakin being incredibly reckless.
Really, it is a pretty enjoyable scene. It ends with them crash landing in a seedy part of town. They follow their target into a bar. It turns out she is a shape shifting bounty hunter. She starts to confess, only to be shot with a poison dart, dying almost instantly.
The Jedi Council formulate a new plan. Anakin will accompany Amidala undercover to a remote part of Naboo, while Obi Wan will focus on the investigation. Obi Wan starts by focusing on the dart. But he really cannot connect it to anything. He visits a friend who runs a dive restaurant who tells him that the dart belongs to the Cloners of Kamino.
This starts a new mystery, as Kamino does not appear in any star maps he can find. With Yoda’s help, he locates his destination. When he arrives, he is surprised to find that they were expecting a visit. Not from Obi Wan, but another Jedi Master who Kenobi reveals died several years before.
He discovers that the previous Jedi master had hired the Kimino people to create an army of Clones. He is introduced to Jango Fett, a bounty hunter who is the basis of the clone army. Jango had one requirement, and that was a clone untouched by the Cloner’s programming to raise as a son (can you see where this is going?). Lucas actually added actor Temuera Morrison’s voice as Stormtroopers and Boba Fett in the original trilogy.
There is a fight and Jango escapes with Boba, but Obi Wan follows them to the planet Geonosis. There, Obi Wan discovers the Separatist army, led by Count Dooku. Dooku is an ex-Jedi (and gets cool points because it is Christopher Lee).
Meanwhile, Anakin confesses feelings for Amidala. At first she pushes back due to her career and the Jedi rules against love and marriage. Anakin argues they can love, and follows the Jedi tradition of loopholes. But he becomes distracted by nightmares of his mother in trouble. He returns to Tatooine. He discovers that his mother was sold to the Lars family. However, rather than keep her as a slave she has married the farmer. She was kidnapped by Sandmen. Anakin locates the Sandmen village and discovers his dying mother. In a fit of rage, he slaughters all of the folks in the village.
As they ready to depart, they get a message from Obi Wan. Anakin and Amidala head off to Geonosis (taking C-3PO, who was with the Lars family, with them). When they arrive, they are instructed to wait, but Anakin gets impulsive and they enter a factory making a droid army. Elsewhere, the Galactic Senate gives approval to the Clone army.
Obi Wan has already been caught, but Anakin and Amidala are fighting their way through the factory, dodging the automated machines building droids. Instead of saving Obi Wan, they end up captured as well.
After getting caught, the three are brought into an arena to fight to their deaths against three very unique monsters. In the midst of this battle Amidala gets a totally implausible rip to her uniform…like, comically implausible. Just as it looks like the Separatists will when, the other Jedi arrive along with the Clone Army.
There is a big fight in the arena between the separatists and the Jedi and Count Dooku runs off. Everybody takes chase after he and the retreating droid separatists. Anakin and Obi Wan reach Dooku’s lair. Dooku manages to incapacitate Kenobi, but Anakin puts up more of a fight. Dooku manages to sever Anakin’s hand and get the high ground so to speak. Suddenly, before he can dispatch the two Jedi, Yoda walks in and they have the fight nobody knew they wanted.
Once Dooku realizes he probably won’t win this fight, he retreats to his ship and escapes to fight another day. The Clone Wars have begun. Anakin gets his robot hand and secretly marries Amidala.
The film ends one this note, with a rather weak cliffhanger. The Empire Strikes back ended on the note of the big reveal. Here there is no big reveal really. “Luke, I am your father” drives discussion and anticipation for the nextr installment. Here it is just…”Well, there is one more!”
So…about the whole romance. Amidala was about fourteen when she met Anakin. And generally I would not balk at a five year age difference. But as they are tied together by her time where he was just a cute kid…it seems like the intended romance might have been able to spring more organically had they started out more like a year or two apart (her sixteen and him fifteen or something). Christiensen and and Portman also lack any chemistry to sell the fast moving relationship. The relationship just feels so rushed it is hard to buy it ever happens. And again, had they been much closer in age in the Phantom Menace, the seeds could have been laid much more organically.
This film is really the first to make a big show about the Jedi rules forbidding marriage and attachments. Frankly, it is a dumb and terrible rule that calls into question the concept of the Jedi as an organization. How is not having attachments going to make you a better protector? But then, we have seen that the Jedi are pretty sketchy.
To a certain extent, I don’t see this concept as bad. The original films gave us only Obi Wan’s portrayal of the Jedi as noble Knights who fought oppression and stood for Justice in the galaxy. That the prequel films are revealing a far more political organization is not a problem…but how it pulls it off is leaving a lot to be desired. It is kind of dull, and in spite of their ineptness, it is pretty obvious we are supposed to be rooting for the Jedi.
The whole subplot with Boba Fett is really pointless. It is, in fact, one of the most pointless fan service moments of the franchise. Jango is killed, beheaded by Mace Windu in front of Boba. We see young Boba holding his father’s helmet to his face. And, this might have been a powerful image had Boba Fett been a major player who we saw a lot of in the original trilogy. But he has, like, three lines including a scream before he dies Between Empire and Return of the Jedi. This gives us no insight, and frankly, undermines part of what made him popular. He was mysterious. Things in Star Wars that needed no backstory? C-3PO and Boba Fett.
One thing that stands out is how lazy the world building is. In the original trilogy, things that paralleled our world still felt unique. When Obi Wan is offered an illicit substance, he refers to it as “Death Sticks”. I know there have been cigarette brands with ironic names like that…but really? Obi Wan’s friend with the diner? The diner looks just like a fifties diner. And they have drinks like “Jawa Juice”. It just feels like there was no effort put into this world.
In spite of my complaints, this is a step up from the Phantom Menace. We get some cool lightsaber duels, for one. Seeing Yoda in action turns out to be surprisingly fun.
Lastly, remember how I said Amidala gets an implausible rip in her outfit? A cat monster things takes a swipe at here…this is the result: