Tag Archives: Star Wars

Review Solo: A Star Wars Story by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

 

The problem with any long-lasting franchise is that eventually, all aspects of the characters will have a light shined on them. We have seen so many details revealed about Spider-Man and Batman, their school years, interaction with their parents, childhood memories and traumas. Other movie characters are exempt from this, they come, make their impression and their story ends without having to know every facet of their existence. Take for example the main character of Solo, Han Solo, he made his first appearance in 1977 with the first Star Wars movie and fulfilled an archetype as much as anything but was well defined.

He had his journey through the original trilogy and it ended. Now with the rebirth of the saga as well as making it a franchise get ready for all the details to be dished out for you.

Obviously, for the movie we have a younger portrayal of Han Solo, the role is taken over by Alden Ehrenreich. He reasonably looks like someone who could age into Harrison Ford and has his head of hair and strikes the iconic shooting pose but for a lot of it, he’s hard to buy. Possibly for years and years, our image of Solo has been purely Harrison Ford and to see another be the character is just too hard to wrap our brains around!  He becomes more buyable as the movie progresses, either this was intentional, Ehrenreich got better at the portrayal as they got further into filming or takes a bit of time to adjust to it all.

There are other familiar faces too. First is the large furry companion of Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), he’s the loyal muscle that always has your back. Then we meet the suave, smooth-talking Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover, who is easily one of the best parts to the movie, his dialogue is much like the original character as well as being fun in his own right and he matches Billie Dee Williams performance to a tee and makes it look natural.

Obviously, we get new characters for this journey too. Almost as soon as the movie starts we meet Qi’ra (Emila Clarke), a shrewd beautiful woman from Han’s past that is a survivor like him. There’s the robber Tobias Beckett (Woody Harelson) who becomes a mentor figure and there’s the sassy droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who tenaciously wants equality for all droid kind.

One of the problems with movies like this is that when we see the younger versions of familiar characters we know not only where they go but that they will make it out without a scratch, that really takes the tension out of the scenes. It’s the equivalent of watching someone play a video game and they have permanent invincibility, there’s no investment because there are no stakes. However with the new characters that we don’t see in any of the other movies, we don’t know where their story goes or if it ends here, so there’s still a bit of tension.

To get back to my opening statement, we were introduced to Han Solo and his large furry friend Chewbacca rather briskly in the original trilogy and there were hints of his past but it didn’t really matter because we had the present story to deal with. We could wonder and create our own ideas about the details of their relationship, of how exactly their first encounter went but it is something that is relevant to the individual, now this movie is here to solidify it.

The world of Star Wars is a recognisable one on a purely visual basis. It has incredible technology that is beyond us and that technology is not very well polished, it is a little rusted and has a layer of dust over it. There is plant life that grows in larger and weirder shapes, the clothing is practical but more stylish at the same time and the technology itself has an oldfashioned style in its plating and construction. For this movie, we do indeed see the Millenium Falcon but it is not the one we know, it is newer and shinier than we have seen in previous movies.

This is a very muted movie in terms of its color pallet. In the opening segment we are in a dingy city of nearly all grays, then we go underground and everything has a blue filter to it, then we get out and gray again, they were in a battlefield of gray and mud and then a snowy mountain range of whites and grays. There are a few more colorful environments in the movie but even then the color never really seems to pop. It seems like a strange choice being that it’s such a stylized world and known for its use of color.

The movie makes no bones about this being a part of a franchise (one of the most recognizable and profitable of all-time). Through the viewing of the movie, you will hear and recognize things that you can connect back to the original saga. But the movie still works by itself in terms of never stopping to make those references and having other moments be there for legitimate plot reasons.

If you go seeking an energetic Science Fiction Action movie then you will get that and all that comes with it. If you go wanting to see and hear things that are connected to Star Wars because you love it, then this movie is for you. Whichever category you fall into (or even both) you will be satisfied.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Rogue One by Jonathan Evans

 

(3 / 5)

 

With the release of The Force Awakens Star Wars is currently experiencing one of it’s greatest resurgences in popularity. Now as we wait for episode eight we are given Rogue One which serves as the bridge between the prequels and the originals.

This movies main goal is to finally establish who it was that got the Death Star plans to Princess Leia and how. In many different video games and other mediums there have been multiple people that have done this so this whole movies purpose is to set it in stone.

I feel the same way about this movie as I do about Jurassic World and that is that on the asthetic level of being apart of a previously established franchise it succeeds greatly and it never really clicks except in the last ten minutes. The last ten minutes of this movie is where you really feel the impact and has it’s best moments. However this raises the question, does this make it worth it? As a simple piece of information to the franchise as a whole not really, did we need to know all these details, no we can live without them. As a movie, to have to sit through something that is just OK but never really resonating until the finale?

Everything about this production says that the people working on the visuals know their material and are passionate to be here. Star Wars is a world of technology far beyond what we have now but is worn and dusty from it’s time being used and environment. Very few things are clean or at least have a few scratches on them and there are details that tie it in with the original film, like when a giant screen changes there’s a half second of static, remember static?

Our characters to perform this task are Jyn (Felicity Jones) the daughter of a scientist, the one that designed the Death Star, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Also they have Orson Kennrick (Ben Mendelson) as their position that hunts them and opposes everything they stand for. They also have a converted Imperialist droid named K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk). My favourite character, wise cracking but in the way that is believable a robot would be, displeased with illogical course of action the humans are taking.

The writing for this movie is way too on-the-nose. The dialog is all about “hope” and “rebellion” and “fight” and “chance.” This is obvious writing that is easy to see through and too corny to get invested in. There are times when it settles down and has the characters talk more human-like but it’s these moments you’ll remember.

Being that the plot is set before A New Hope there are two faces that come back, literally! I wont spoil the second one but Peter Cushing is facially recreated and voiced by another actor. This is, frankly, creepy. I know that what I am seeing is a real person that is long since dead and has been facially re-created to deliver another performance. Recreating a young Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy is one thing, but this feels very disrespectful. There is an episode of The Critic where they have a millionaire say that using C.G.I. he can have old, long dead actors do what he wants. This was intended as a joke, now it’s a disturbing reality.

There are moments of fan-service in this movie that is the most detrimental to any movie. They are the types that come, non-subtly state themselves and then moves on. These are moments for the fans, others will just be slightly detoured by characters moving by or a lot of emphasis on a certain name. It’s not the worst I’ve seen but that doesn’t make this any better.

Star Wars fans are some of the most dedicated and obsessive fans ever (this can be either a good or bad thing). I imagine the hardcore fans will take this movie and really focus in on its prose and not care about its problems. For others, it will be a serviceable science fiction movie that has an ending that makes it all worth it

Diversity in the Media by Amina Elmi

14010047_10209116700507288_1086472829_nWe live in a multi-cultural society with rich cultural heritage that is not being reflected on-screen. This needs to change. There is no excuse good or enough reason to justify the lack of representation in the media in this day and age.

Representation matters to people like me. People who want positive role models that we could relate to. That’s why when I was younger, I was hooked into any show where I saw a black female character. No matter the quality of the show or how it was written. This was because it was such a rarity to see this. Unfortunately for me, writers would try to pander to their audience by feeding them stereotypes of sassy angry black women. The negative stereotypes are not just a problem for black viewers. Minorities are consistently forced into stereotypical roles that society perceives them to be. These characters would be less important, predictable and ultimately unnecessary. One reason for this is the lack of diversity behind the scenes. How can straight white writers relate to the experiences of minorities?

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Even when minorities are cast they are faced with prejudiced voices speaking up to raise their objections. Some may remember when John Boyega was cast as a Stormtrooper in Star Wars. The global outcry of racists exclaimed “White Genocide” and that the film studio was conforming to the “PC Agenda” Boyega was bombarded to with hatred fuelled racist tweets. Does their imagination not stretch enough for other ethnicities or is it limited at intergalactic wars?

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Cast member Kristen Wiig at the LA Premiere of Ghostbusters.

Another example of fury when Diversity is applied was the all-female Ghostbusters reboot. “They’re ruining my childhood” cried familiar prejudiced voices. Their childhood is over and has been for quite a while now. What they are neglecting to notice is that this movie has provided a younger generation with strong female role models. It seems that whenever diversity is enforced there is backlash. How can change be implemented if we are met by defiance at every turn?

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Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange

Ridiculously, ethnic minorities are even unable to get cast in non-white roles. This is called Whitewashing and it occurs when a white actor is cast in the role of a non-white character. It is not uncommon for this to happen. A recent example of this is the upcoming Marvel Movie Doctor Strange. Tilda Swinton plays an Asian character in this film. Essentially the film will be a “white woman teaching a white man Asian culture.” There is no debate on the capabilities of Swinton. She is a talented actress but she is simply unsuitable for this role. If people of colour are losing non-white roles to white actors, then what hope do they really have?

An argument against diversity is that it is too much of risk to cast minorities. Studios fear losing viewers and money. However diverse televisions shows and films are advantageous to studios and have a track record of being successful. Television shows that have a diverse cast have higher ratings. Examples of this include ‘Scandal’, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’. Films coincide with this. Those with diverse casts make notably more money. For example, the extremely popular ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise. The summer blockbuster ‘Suicide Squad’ saw found that 39% of its ticket buyers were Black and Hispanic. The movie boasted a diverse and multi-cultural cast.

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The cast of Suicide Squad

We know that diversity does work and that it is not a risk. So why does Hollywood remain white?

Review Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra, A Night at the Movies by James Briggs

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This year has been packed full of the best movie releases to date with the latest James Bond movie Spectre, Jurassic World and the new Star Wars film Episode VII: The Force Awakens. There is no surprise that the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra have chosen to do ‘A Night at the Movies’ for their Christmas show. With a crammed program of famous and well-loved movie themes the film buffs and music lovers were well and truly out in force at Saint David’s Hall in the centre of Cardiff.

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In a concert celebrating the vast amount of film music that has been composed we also had another edition to the concert in which the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra had teamed up with George Thomas Hospice Care and part of the money taken from tickets and sales at the show were going to be donated. It is collaborations like this that raise vital money for the amazing work that is done in delivering the best possible palliative care for people who are seriously ill. It was because of this underlying motive for holding the concert that the pieces seemed to have far more meaning to them than they already have.

The first act of the programme consisted of a wide range of movie music with an overture medley to begin the show with numbers such as the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘There’s no Business like Show Business’ included. Next up was music from the hit animated Disney movie ‘Frozen’ accompanied by audience members singing along with many of the well-known songs from the film, the orchestra were able to bring the movie to life much to the excitement of the younger people of the audience. Music from the twenty-third instalment of the James Bond franchise ‘Skyfall’ followed. Adele’s music was beautifully orchestrated and left the audience wanting more music from the Bond movies. A popular favourite among families was the Lion King medley that followed Skyfall. With songs like Circle of Life and I Just Can’t Wait to be King, the audience were given a musical treat with catchy rhythms and African instruments included in the songs. The first act was concluded with a ‘My Fair Lady’ medley. The musical includes many well- known songs such ‘As I Could Have Danced All Night and ‘I’m Getting Married in the Morning.’

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Following the Interval sci-fi fans were treated to a whole second act dedicated to the Star Wars saga. With music from Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi there was plenty of Star Wars music to be heard. A personal favourite of mine was the opening song for the second act, taken from Episode IV: A New Hope,  the 20th Century Fox theme filled the room with movie magic before the moment we had all been waiting for the main theme from Star Wars began.

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The iconic first note played out around the room and left many people with jaws on the floor in awe of the fantastic music. As the music played out you could almost see Darth Vader walking into the room and the Millennium Falcon flying through an asteroid field. The concert was finished with an encore piece called Throne room and end title of Episode IV: A New Hope. The soundtrack hit the audience like a brick wall, once the end titles music began there was nothing but pure joy on the audience faces. With the new release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens being released on the 17th of December this music seemed to resonate far more with the audience and felt far more special than it usually would.

Without a doubt this is defiantly an orchestra you need to see! Their next concert is called ‘Vote Overture!’ in which they are asking you the audience to vote for your favourite piece. To vote for your favourite piece visit www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk where you will find lots of information and further details about up and coming shows.

http://www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/whats-on/cardiff-philharmonic-orchestra/cpo-vote-overture/