Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

I last watched this back in 2015, and even though this is by far the worst of the Star Wars films I decided to watch it again because I want to watch episodes 2 and 3 again too.

My two previous reviews for this film gave it 7.5 (2008) and 4 (2015) respectively. This time around I am somewhere in the middle. It is still the worst of the Star Wars films, but it does have it’s moments, usually when no one is talking.

If Jar-Jar was either toned down, or completely removed, and the silly Trade Federation politics parts of the story were replaced with a plot about blowing things up, it could have been a whole lot better. Darth Maul needed to be in it more. Anakin said “Yippee!” too many times.

Yoda didn’t look as good as he did in episodes 5 and 6. Here is the original Yoda in Phantom Menace compared to the CGI version put in for the Blu-ray release…much better.

Here is a video taken back in the day, interviewing people before and after they saw the film, with only the guy at the end hating it.

Date watched: January 13th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2019: 2

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

For the first film of the year I had chosen Alphaville, but I just couldn’t finish it. So far I have had two sessions with it, but just can’t get into it. So, the first film I have finished this year is The Force Awakens.

There is no need to go into much detail as I have already blogged about it (here), and everything I wrote mirrors how I feel about it this time around, that is to say it is a very worthy addition to the Star Wars galaxy.

Date watched: January 7th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2019: 1


James and I went to see this today in the early afternoon at Nagano’s only multiplex theatre, which today was the best place to be as it was extremely hot outside. This film is titled “Han Solo” here.

I went into this not sure what to expect as there are mixed reviews around, and the talk about it being a box office disappointment didn’t help. But, as I walked out of the theatre later, I just didn’t care what was said about it. I thought it was very entertaining, maybe not quite as good as Rogue One, but it was still very worthwhile.

Ron Howard did a pretty good job of taking over the direction. There is a good article here explaining what went on with the change of directors. It sounds like Ron did things a lot more efficiently, and did things “the Star Wars way”. It mentioned that Paul Bettany took over from Michael K. Williams, who could not finish the film due to other obligations. All of his scenes had to be completely re-done with Paul.

Before seeing this I had read criticism of Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Hana Solo, some saying that he was a bit wooden and didn’t capture the character well. Well, I disagree. I thought he did a pretty good job of it. No one could ever play Han as well as Harrison Ford did, but Alden was not a disappointment at all. He did a good job of recreating Harrison’s mannerisms, and Harrison himself gave his seal of approval to Alden.

Woody Harrelson was great as always, Emilia Clarke was stupendous, Danny Glover was fabulous, and I think Chewbacca had the most fun he has ever had in a Star Wars film.

Every Star Wars film needs a new droid character and with this one we got L3-37, a sassy female who loves equal rights for droids, and freeing other robots from slavery. She was very entertaining, and I would rank her as one of my top three fave’s (along with C3-P0 and R2-D2).

There were a lot of references to previous Star Wars films, they really packed them in this time. And everything you wanted to know about Han, such as how Han met Chewie, all about the Kessel Run, how he won the Millenium Falcon, how Han shoots first, and how he procured his blaster were all there and neatly explained. A lot of the back-story originates in the Star Wars comics and animated series, neither of which I have consumed. The story of Darth Maul prior to this film is long and very involved. This video explains it all.

Solo is a worthy addition to the Star Wars series, and I am looking forward to the sequel. As I said before, this was entertaining, and that is all that really matters to me when it comes to this kind of film.

Something that you will notice when going to a film in Japan is that the audience is completely quiet throughout the whole film, no matter how exciting a scene may be, or how funny a joke is…perhaps a quiet titter from those brave enough to make a sound. Another thing you will notice is that most of the audience will remain in their seats until the very end of the film. They all sit there quietly and just read the credits, no talking at all. Even the theatre lights don’t go back on until the film has finished and the screen has gone black. Yep, going to a film in Japan is quite different. The theatre though is perfectly clean both before and after a session.

Date watched: July 16th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2018: 45

The Empire Strikes Back

In preparation for Solo, James and I watched half of this this last night, and the other half today after we got back from Solo.

I have reviewed this a few times before, so I won’t go into it much. What I will say though is that there are several references in Solo to this film, nothing major but I like how the Star Wars films do that, it makes you feel like a real geeky fan when you can pick things up that Muggles won’t.

I am undecided whether I like this or Episode 4 better, so for now I will just call it a draw.

Date watched: July 16th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2018: 44

Star Wars: Episode 4

There is no real need to write much about this as I have already written about it four times previously in this blog (although I have seen this film at least twenty times).

What I will say again is that the “improvements” Georgie added in are very annoying and do nothing for the film at all. Why, Georgie, why?

Date watched: July 8th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 39

Star Wars: Rogue One

James and I wanted to see this again after seeing at the film theatre last yaer.

The best thing to do would be to read my first review as it all still holds true.

Briefly though, it is a fantastic addition to the Star Wars universe, entertaining from beginning to end, and the short scene of Darth Vader going berzerb with his lightsaber is most excellent.

Date watched: March 31st
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 26

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

James and I were excited about seeing this, so much so that we decided to drive two hours to the nearest 4DX theatre to see it.

There is a lot of praise for this film online, and a lot of vitriol as well. Some people say Star Wars is dead, that these new films are just plain awful, agree I do not. Episodes I, II, and III were pretty bad, but I still like to watch them as there are a few good bits here and there. This new series though does a much better job, and updates the series quite well. The new characters are great, and while the stories so far have been derivative, it is still entertaining. The choice of actors too is spot on I think. At the end of the day these films are just light entertainment, they are not meant to be Taxi Drivers, Sunset Boulevards, or 2001s.

I won’t go into any details, but I thought the story was well done, the acting superb (especially Adam Driver and Mark Hamill), the action scenes spectacular, and the special effects and cinematography most excellent. The humour though was a bit corny or silly, especially in the opening scene, but it is a minor niggle.

If I had to rank this against Episode VII I would say this is a tad bit better, although I would have to watch it again on DVD to be sure, watching films at the theatre skews things a bit.

As I said, we saw this at a 4DX theatre which is our first time to try one out. It was fun for a while, but quickly became tiresome and distracting. We were thrown about on our seats quite a bit, had water raining on us occasionally (although you can turn that off), had blasts of wind come at us from noisy fans, had some weird tickler thing brush against our legs, breathed in scents which didn’t really match the scene, and saw fog rise up in front of the screen which didn’t really add much. Once is enough. The 3D though was worth it.

So, I enjoyed this. I wasn’t expecting much going into it, I just wanted to be entertained which I was. There are a few questions about the story here and there, some of which may be answered in Episode 9, some probably not.

Now the wait until May for the Han Solo story which looks to be quite exciting.

Date watched: December 16th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2017: 142