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Rogue One (2016)
Star Wars for the rest of us Muggles
This movie deviates from the Star Wars Episodes as it shows parts of the wars that "ordinary" heroes fight, non-Force users (I am tempted to say "Muggles"). No Jedi magic and no light sabers, people have to fight with normal blasters, "the better times" of the more elegant light sabers are long gone.
So don't expect the usual Star Wars magic, but prepare for more like an earthly war movie, sprinkled with Star Wars goodies like X-wings, Star Destroyers, and, of course, the Death Star. Brand new, being tested, supervised by Grand Moff Tarkin brought to screen by a computer generated, almost believable Peter Cushing.
The story of Luke is told yet another time; young Jyn loses her family which runs a desert farm to the Empire, teams up with some rogue pilots and a sarcastic talking android, to learn about the Death Star and fight it. Same story, much rougher environment, no noble knights but fierce warriors, less space battles but more boots on the ground. And as I said - no baroque-style saber duels but 21th century warfare in Arabic-esque cities. And not even the clear line between good and bad - the Empire is on an understandable mission to restore order in the Galaxy, while the rebels question themselves.
At the end, the young heroine succeeds without using the Force, she steals the Death star plans and sends Princess Leia on her legendary mission to bring them to Alderaan, closely followed by Darth Vader, who like Tarkin and Leia looks a little CGI-ish.
No question that this is a movie worth seeing and owning, and I am excited about this spin-off which gives Star Wars a true Earthly touch.
There is one thing however that I would like to remark (SPOILERS AHEAD). We all know of the flaw of the Death Star: Too much power in one center, which is prone to explode if it is hit. This is the same error the dark side does over and over again: The droid army invading Naboo, both Death Stars and Starkiller Base - all suffer from being too centralized, not being distributed, not being redundant - they all are Single Points of Failure. This is the nature of the dark side, of the Sith: they gather around a powerful, authoritarian center, a dictator, a Big Brother who is meant to be the wise and powerful. Yet the dark side keeps failing because centralism and egomania is not the way you succeed, or how societies live in happiness.
Or so the franchise told us.
In Rogue One we learn that the flaw of the Death Star was intentionally built-in by an engineer working for the Empire but feeling for the rebellion. He built in a weak spot and documented it in the plans.
Now, not only that this means the "hope to find a weak spot" expressed in Ep IV was rather a certainty. Also, this implies that the Empire only falls by treason. Centralism works, the movie tells us, if it were not for traitors.
But that is wrong! The Death Star does not HAVE a flaw, it IS the flaw. This aspect is totally ruined by the treason story. If that one engineer would not have been a traitor, the Death Star would have worked. This is contrary to the message the other films brought.
What a pity, another of these plot twists that have the power to ruin your childhood memories. But on the other hand, nothing is more typical for Star Wars than constantly contradicting itself.
9/10, a great movie.
Rocky V (1990)
Not that bad, but ugly plot holes
I think the worst plot hole of this movie is, how can a superstar like Rocky even after losing his money become so poor that he has to live in his old, slum-like neighborhood again? And live in conditions where a dollar is a problem? He does not do advertising? Hello? He did that well in part III and now he rather fights with serious health risks than signing up for a few commecrials to buy new furniture to replace the shabby stuff they live in?
But I still liked the movie. It shows the importance of values. Money vs family, and the latter is the stronger, and that is not a bad teaching.
For me, it is a little like Star Trek V, which is also seen as the worst of its series: It is better the movie exists than not, it has its moments, it delivers a great soundtrack, and at least, it features a hero I can't get enough of.
7 of 10.
Worst Trek Movie
Who are all these people saying Star Trek V was the worst ST movie? It wasn't. This one was.
*** Here be spoilers ***
"The Search For Spock" was boring most of the time. Merrit Buttrick was boring. Where was his brilliant mother, Bibi Besch? Robin Curtis was boring. Why in all heavens did they let Kirstie Alley go? These boring persons were walking trough a planet which was instable. We knew that from the beginning, and were just waiting for the thing to explode. It took way to long. The film did not make us fear and mourn one second for the dying planet and the failing project which should have brought life to desert planets.
Yes, and they had Spock with them. A kid at the beginning, rapidly aging but never showing any interesting feature. Not only because Spock's soul was elsewhere, but because the script had no ideas for him. He was played by four actors other than Nimoy himself, none of which did anything interesting.
Boy, was that boring.
The better parts of this movie were Kirk and his crew stealing the Enterprise, but Scotty sabotaging the Excelsior seems rather unbelievable. I wish they had escaped because they are the better sailors. Then they have a confrontation with some Klingons. I always like space battles. But this one was disappointing. It started promising. Kirk's and the Klingon ships both damaged, both captains thinking the other was in the better position, and both bluffing. But then intelligence left the Klingon when he sent all his men into Kirk's simple trap. No comparison to Khan.
Overall, these Klingons were far worse than the ones of ST V. The Klingon Captain running around only screaming for the Genesis device became boring fast. Fortunately, he killed one of the other bores.
Since the plot was not really interesting, something exciting had to happen. Let's blow up the Enterprise and swap ships, the writers thought. So Kirk blows up the Enterprise to get rid of a dozen Klingons whom he had lured on board. These dozen Klingons had come, by the way, to take over a ship of 400 crewmen. Wow. And then they went into a trap. And there was no way to fill the bridge with narcotic gas to knock them out? It had to be self-destruction?
At the end, we have to force ourselves through the Vulcan ritual of transferring a soul from one body to the other. We knew it would succeed. Why was it taking so long then, and why did everybody say "it wasn't done forever, and only in legends" ? It was plain boring.
Finally, Spock was back, and the film started to be interesting, trek-like - five minutes before it ended. Maybe we had to go through this to get Spock back. The price was not too high, thinking e.g. of his brilliant role in ST VI. But hey, hadn't the crew left Spock on Genesis, they could have spared themselves from becoming criminals, destroying the Enterprise, and boring the fans with this superfluous film where only the music is remarkable.
Gets on my nerves.
I am a big fan of LotR, at least, I was after the two first films. I started reading the book and made it until ca. 75%. The problem for me is that both the film and the book did not deliver what they promised with the first two thirds.
The Fellowship was great: interesting characters, interesting peoples, great landscapes, a great task to fulfill.
Two Towers increased the pace, there was a great villain (Saruman) with all his machinery and yet he wasn't the main Evil. He messed with Mother Nature and that was never a good thing to do and caused his demise. Hey, the old 80's green message which is still topic.
And we had Frodo on his journey becoming changed by the Ring. And the interesting schizo Smeagol/Gollum character. And Sam, the loving caring guy who stands for the right thing to do, for friendship and the good things worth fighting for.
Interesting, great story.
But the third part never fulfilled the promise. Both Tolkien and Jackson failed to conclude this great story adequately.
Start with the villain: Sauron never entered the stage. Neither in person, nor as ghost. He just sent out more of the things we've already seen before. He did not even notice the Ring was entering his country. The Nazgul king was a poor substitute. We never saw Barad-dur other than from far. And at the end, oops, it crashed. That was a very poor view compared to the defeat of Isengard.
Continue with the voyage: Frodo was approaching Mordor, yet Sauron's knights got him totally out of sight. Weren't they supposed to chase him even more close than in 1 and 2? But no, it was Gollum who posed the danger. Frodo never was more secure than in Mordor after Gollum left.
And Gollum: Even his two personalities were schizo. Why are they always referring to themselves as "us", even when Smeagol talks to Gollum? Why are the calling each other, the ring, and even Sam "my precious" ? Just confusing what the good side of the creature is.
Frodo himself never showed any influence by the ring, other than it became "heavier" (but Frodo's worsening condition could also come from the journey stress. BTW - the "fat hobbit" turns out to be rather sporty!). At the end, Frodo rushes upwards Mount Doom only to refuse letting the ring go. Not very believable, not very consistent. The slow but ongoing change in his character that was developed in the first two films was totally dropped in 3.
Other than disturbance by Gollum, the journey was pretty straightforward. Was the Ring sleeping? In the first parts it was doing everything to get back to its Master, but it could not make itself noticed whan it was directly in front of Sauron's eye?
And Sauron was stupid enough to a) not guard the Mount of Doom and b) start the war before the ring was in his hands.
The only good things were the battles.
The rest of the film was all too much crying and slow-motion and having feelings for each other. Can't see Sam full of tears and Frodo's wide-opened eyes anymore. Can't hear the kings' pathetic speeches anymore. Can't see Arwen in soft-focus and hear her whispering nonsense anymore. Eowyn is a much cooler and prettier character. I also wish there had been more Gimli and Legolas. The film bored me the second time I saw it which never happened with the first two.
I give it a 7/10 while the others were 9/10.
Reign of Fire (2002)
Somebody tried to make a good action/fantasy film, and failed. Even if there was a lot of fire, the spark was missing. What should this film tell us? Why was it made? Just because an off-spring of a video game can make money? OK, so be it.
For those who want to see an action fantasy spectacle, avoid this boring crap. Too often we have to imagine the monsters, e.g. behind the hills, or we must reconstruct them from the actor's faces who pretend to look at them. And when they're shown, they always look the same. Big, fire spitting bats. They walk like the T-Rex in "Jurassic Park". They roar like "Godzilla". They have one King like the Queen "Alien". The few humans, fighting in a destroyed world like in "Terminator", live hidden in an old English castle resembling on "Highlander".
Of course, the originals are much better.
The only scene I really liked was when the two men played "Star Wars" with wooden swords to delight the kids: "And then the dark knight said the unforgettable words: I am your father!". It was funny to think of Star Wars becoming a fairy tale though the decades still told to children after the movies are long destroyed. But that was the only funny thing of this film. The rest was rather boring.
A waste of time and money. 3 out of 10.
Fantasy long before LOTR
This film takes you back to the 80s - its choppy SFX and sentimental neon atmosphere as well as the inevitable but meaningless love scene of two hardly distinguishable nude silouhettes identify "Highlander" clearly one of the films they used to make when I was 20.
However, what was unique of it - the flashbacks through time, especially the medieval scenes in the Scottish Highlands - makes this film look surprisingly up to date. Haven't we seen grim hordes of sword fighters in beautiful landscapes recently - in movies like Gladiator and, of course, Lord Of The Rings? Doesn't LOTR tell a story spanning centuries, like Highlander does?
In the 80s, "There can be only one" was one of the cult quotes of us male adolescents, almost as popular as the later "Hasta La Vista, Baby". Today, this film looks like an anticipation of the big fantasy sagas of the new millennium. I still like it - mostly because it tells us being immortal is not as worthwhile as you might think. It includes watching your loved ones age and pass away. The music accompanying Heather's death is one of the most beautiful film themes (and Queen songs) of all times: "Who wants to live forever".
Michael Kamen (orchestral score) and Queen (rock soundtrack) definitely turn this movie into a jewel. Don't miss it - it's a kind of magic...
This is just fun!
Okay, this movie is not the kind of art masterpiece you think of even years after. But it works. It's great fun, with two great main actors: the eclectic Brendan Fraser (best in his role as the Columbian drug lord), and the SUPER HOT Elizabeth Hurley. How could Hugh Grant ever give up this woman? ;-)
This is 90 minutes of fun watching, nothing deeper. But if you think of such awful failures of would-be masterpieces like Spielberg's A.I. or Brest's Meet Joe Black, this movie deserves 8 of 10 points for not being boring a single minute.
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
Too Many Plot Holes
Okay, this was good entertainment for an evening. But not much to remember.
With the opening credits still being displayed, the first big plot hole raised its ugly face: In 1973, an Israeli jet armed with an atom bomb is shot down by Arabs. And no one ever cares for the wreck in 28 years. Neither Arabs curious to see what they've hit show up, nor Israelis who want to get back their nuclear weapon which didn't explode and might be a serious threat to them if found by the wrong people.
A little later, an Austrian speaking imo sensible words about Europe being under the leadership of the U.S. is identfied as a Nazi by a swastika on the back of his watch lying on his desk. Ha Ha. Why doesn't he wear a sign "I am a Nazi" round his neck?
The film carries on with a cold-war scenario. Huh, this is past! And there's the second plot hole: While the president is still wondering whether the atom bomb that exploded in the U.S. was Russian or not - the CIA already has proven, it was not. But can they get to the President? Can they pass this information to him that will prevent World War III? No!
And when Ben Affleck finally has a few seconds to speak to a man who has access to the President - does he tell him the crucial information: "hey, our CIA labs have proven the plutonium was ours!" ? No. He blah-blahs until the other man drops the phone or closes the door.
No. Weird story, past's enemies, un-interesting effects (including the biggest laugh: a helicopter caught by a nuclear pressure wave, crashing and NOT exploding at all!). Summary: Certainly not the best movie of the year.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Spectacular! Must see!
Okay, this movie has a trivial plot and no realism but that's not the point because it is a SHOW. It is not even about a show, it IS one.
The beginning already shows this - the canvas becomes a curtain, with a conductor in front - you're not watching a stroy about the Moulin Rouge, you're sitting in the Moulin Rouge.
The movie is not even trying to move you to the fin the siecle, to the early 1900's, to show you an historic show. NO, it's a show of TODAY, with TODAY's songs (songs of the 60's to 90's which did not exist in 1900 when the movie "takes place").
So stop thinking. Just relax, and enjoy this extraordinary audiovisual experience. This is one of the movies that trade in realism for being an artwork, and that I like very much. The flying views of the city reminded me of "The Crow" and other comic strip movies, like "Batman" and "Dick Tracy". I love this kind of somewhat strange athomsphere.
And I loved hearing well known songs in surprising arrangements, like "Roxanne", "The Show Must Go On", even "I Was Made For Loving You" sung by this elf, Nicole Kidman, instead of these "horror-masked" bad boys of KISS.
I totally fell in love with this unique artwork, and gave it a 9/10. The missing 10th is due to I think it could have been done better, if you got the best singers/actors of the world which Kidman and McGregor are not. But without doubt they did a good job and I was surprised how well "Obi-wan Kenobi" can sing. And I pity Tom Cruise for losing this breathtaking wonderful woman, Nicole Kidman.
A must see for everyone who loves musicals, romance and bizarre, fast-paced pictures. One of the best movies in 2001.