Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 Review

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was originally an animated series that came out in 2008. It was highly regarded, but sadly it was cancelled in 2013 before it could have a true ending. Finally, after 7 years, Disney released the final season of the show, and it absolutely lives up to the hype.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars bridges the gap between the second and third Star Wars movies, with the seventh season happening at the same time as the events of the third movie. This was a show made for Star Wars fans, not just kids. Although it’s a cartoon, there are some violent moments, and intense themes such as morality in war, and even parallels to European colonialism. However, this ultimately is a show meant for Star Wars fans, and if you haven’t seen the Star Wars movies, you won’t get the full experience.

The Seventh season picks up right before Revenge of the Sith. It mostly follows an ex-Jedi named Ashoka as she tries to figure out the plot to destroy the republic. The earlier half of the season splits focus between Ashoka trying to escape a crime syndicate, and a mutant clone squad called the “Bad Batch” trying to rescue captured Clone.The earlier half of the season is incredibly weak. The side characters who are imprisoned along with Ashoka, Trace and Rafa Martez, are frankly just annoying. One behaves like a child while the other feels like a whiny emo teenager. They’re unlikable, and the story between the three is simply just boring. The Bad Batch story is slightly more bearable, mostly because it features good characters from the show’s other seasons like Anakin and Captain Rex. Still, similar to Trace and Rafa, the new Bad Batch soldiers are again, annoying, and feel like childish caricatures. Their story arc itself is much better than Ashoka’s however, and it follows them trying to rescue a clone from a science facility.

The second half of the season however, is quite possibly some of the best Star Wars entertainment ever. It follows Ashoka attempting to lay siege to the planet Mandalore and apprehend Darth Maul. This part actually takes place concurrently during Revenge of the Sith. This section is absolutely amazing, and it features great fights, great stories, and an incredibly heartbreaking moment in the second to last episode. Ultimately, the ending portion of season 7 absolutely makes this show, and it flashes out the Star Wars universe immensely.

Despite it’s poor beginning, the ending episodes of Star Wars: the Clone Wars Season 7 is ultimately a fitting end to a beloved tv show. Ashoka completes her character arc, and all characters are tied up where they need to be by the start of Revenge of the Sith. Simply put, it’s great, and all Star Wars fans should watch it.

Dallas Buyers Club Review

Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 film directed by Jean-Marc Valee and starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. It follows the story of a real person named Ron Woodroof, who after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS decided to fight the FDA and the harmful medicine they were using. This movie really is quite amazing. The acting is absolutely fantastic, and the characters feel very realistic and well written.

Dallas Buyers Club is based off the story of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986. He was given 30 days to live, but instead managed to survive 7 years. After meeting a transgender man named Rayon, he sets up a “Buyers Club” for people living with AIDS to get actual medicine, instead of the harmful drugs the FDA was distributing.

The best thing about this movie is the acting. Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won academy awards for their roles as Ron and Rayon respectively. There are some moments in this movie that can arguably be considered some of the best acting in history, particularly from McConaughey. He completely carries the weight of this film, and thankfully he succeeds. Ron is a very interesting character, who feels very realistic thanks to a multi-faceted personality. He’s extremely rough and crass some times, yet at others he behaves like a perfect gentlemen. And the scene where he cries in the car while pondering suicide, is simply incredible. Rayon on the other hand, doesn’t have as many scenes or amazing moments as Ron, but still has one very memorable, where she says, bluntly, “I don’t wanna die.”

Something I found weird about Dallas Buyer’s Club is the relationships between characters. It almost feels like some crucial scenes between Rayon and Ron were cut, as the relationship goes from Ron slinging homophobic slurs at Rayon in one scene, to him defending her in the next. It feels very weird in the sense that although the chemistry between them is pretty good, we really never saw them becoming friends. Additionally, the romantic subplot between Ron and his Doctor, Eve, seems to go nowhere. They go on dates, and flirt with each other, but the movie never does anything with that. They don’t kiss, their relationship really is never tested too much, and overall it seems pointless. I suppose they did it so that Ron could have a confession scene where he says what his hopes and dreams were, like saying he wants kids. (Ironically, the real Ron Woodroof was divorced and had a son at this time.)

Overall, despite it’s wonky relationships between characters, Dallas Buyers Club is an excellent film. It easily deserves the academy awards it has, and it will probably go down in acting history for McConaughey’s absolutely stunning performance. Please, go watch this film.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse Review

Spider-Mam: Into the Spiderverse is a 2018 film directed by Peter Ramsey, and starring Shameik Moore, Hailey Steinfield, and Jake Johnson. It takes place in an alternate dimension, in which the usual Spider Man named Peter Parker has died, and his protege Miles Morales must stop a dimensional rift from tearing apart Brooklyn, with the help of Spider-men from different dimensions. This is honestly one of the best superhero movies ever made, up there with the likes of Superman from 1978, the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man, and the original avengers. Spiderverse is seriously that good.

The film takes place In an alternate dimension of our world, complete with a different, younger version of peter Parker as Spider-Man, and a newly bitten teenager named Miles Morales, who’s just discovering his powers. However, when one of his villains, the Kingpin, builds a machine that can bring people from other dimensions, that dimensions Spider-Man is killed, and various other Spider-people are brought in from other dimensions, including a different, and older version of Peter Parker. It’s then up to the rookie Spider-Man Miles Morales and his spider friends to stop Kingpin from destroying Brooklyn by creating a black hole.

This movie is great. It’s incredibly funny, it’s got great characters, animation is simply gorgeous. The main character, Miles Morales, is very relatable and funny. He’s an awkward nerdy teenager who reacts similarly to how all of us would if we were suddenly spider-man. He doesn’t have a single defining character trait, but that’s ok, because he feels almost like an amalgamation of the average human. He works, and the audience loves him and roots for him the whole time. He also has a great character arc, starting as this kid who just wants to be normal, and accepting the fact that he’s Spider-Man by the end of the movie. The other main character is Peter B. Parker. This is an older, more realistic version of the Peter Parker from Mile’s universe. He’s undergoing both a divorce with Mary-Jane, and a mid life crisis in his universe. His arc centers around his fear of the unknown and new. He’s perfect as a mentor to Miles, and he’s a hilarious and interesting character even on his own. The other Spider-people are all varied, albeit not as characterized as Peter and Miles. There’s a “noir” Spider-Man voiced by Nicholas Cage, and even a superhero called “Spider-Ham” voice by John Mulaney. Most of the other heroes beyond the main two are relegated to only a couple of funny scenes however. Still, they’re all varied and hilarious.

Perhaps the biggest draw this movie has is it’s amazing animation. It’s supposed to look like a comic book, and it resale shines. It’s incredibly unique, and it characters and places seriously look like they’re right out of a comic book page. They even use comic panels to transition scenes. It took 800 people 4 years to animate, and it really paid off.

There seriously aren’t many problems with this film. The only gripes I have are mild things, some scenes go on for too long and the tension between Miles and his Dad feels out of nowhere and misplaced. These really don’t detract much, if at all from the experience of watching the movie as a whole.

Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is just plain great, It’s animation is a work of art, it has great characters, and it’s incredibly fun to watch. This movie can be enjoyed by all ages, and it’s worth your time.

Hidden Figures Review

Hidden Figures is a 2017 film directed by Theodore Melfi, and starring Taraji Henson, Janelle Monae, and Octavia Spencer. It follows the relatively unknown African American women who worked at NASA during the 60s. Hidden Figures has some very interesting and factual material to work with, and kudos to it for bringing some of the achievement’s of these women to light. However, the main character is very bland when not interacting with her two companions.

Hidden Figures follows the true story of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughn, three women who did calculations for NASA on the John Glenn mission. However, this movie mainly focuses on Katherine Johnson, who did calculations for the trajectory of re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere

The chemistry between these three is great. It feels very natural and real. All three actors do great in their roles around each other, as well as their solo scenes. The rest of the acting in this movie is so-so. Mahershala Ali is very likable as Katherine’s love interest Jim, and their relationship throughout the movie feels sweet, if a bit rushed. But on the opposite side of the spectrum, Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons are simply boring and do virtually nothing with their roles.

The biggest problem with hidden figures is that the leading character is incredibly boring. The main character, Katherine, when not with her other two halves is simply uninteresting, and it’s in no way the fault of the actress, it’s simply how she was written. She has one good monologue that ends up being a great scene, but for the rest of the movie she’s flat. There’s virtually no interesting character traits about her. And it’s a shame, because both Mary and Dorothy shine when on their own, and both have definable traits and characteristics. If they had the written the main character like they did her friends, this movie would be much better.

Hidden Figure’s has it’s heart in the right place. It sets out to tell a story about crucial unknown people that were instrumental in getting man to space. The movie itself however, is simply boring and at times cliche. Still, it deserves to be watched, if for nothing else, simply because these women deserve recognition.

The Invisible Man Review

The Invisible Man is a 2020 horror film directed by Leigh Whannell starring Elizabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson Cohen. It follows a woman named Cecilia, who after leaving an abusive relationship with a genius scientist, believes her dead ex is stalking her with an invisible suit. Unlike a lot of modern horror movies, this film doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares. Instead, it builds tension through smart camera angles and lighting to make the audience think there’s an invisible man stalking them. However, the movie does have a boring protagonist, and the ending feels a little wrong.

The Invisible Man centers around Cecilia, an architect, and former girlfriend of a brilliant ocular scientist named Adrian. However, after Cecilia escapes their abusive relationship, Adrian kills himself. Cecilia then believes that he is stalking her using the experimental technology he created. Later, Adrian convinces everyone Cecilia is crazy by seemingly implicating her in various crimes. It’s then up to Cecilia to prove she’s sane and stop Adrian from hurting any more of her friends.

This movie’s main draw, for me at least, is the very interesting premise it presents. Having an invisible man stalking you is incredibly scary, and the movie does a lot with that scenario. Scenes shot on carpets or in the rain partially expose Adrian, and the idea that he’s potentially always watching is terrifying. In fact, this movie is surprisingly scary, and thankfully they don’t rely on modern fear tropes, but instead stoke horror through a buildup of tension. The Invisible Man often uses rotating hallway shots set in very dark areas to keep the audience on their toes and never let them recover. I personally really enjoyed this, as in a genre oversaturated by dumb The Conjuring clones, this movie feels very unique.

One thing that wasn’t good about this movie is the protagonist. Elizabeth Moss is fine, and is good in the role, but Cecilia as herself is very underdeveloped. The only unique thing about her is that she’s an architect. I can’t tell if she’s funny, or strict, or literally anything about her personality. Normally in horror movies, this wouldn’t be a problem. But The Invisible Man clearly wants the audience to root for Cecilia and like her as a protagonist, particularly at the end. I found it hard to do that, because there was virtually nothing done with her character. She seems to be only a plot device, with little to make the audience sympathetic towards her. This is very ironic, although this is a movie which is trying to uplift women in abusive relationships, it spends no time trying to characterize the woman it’s portraying. The other thing I found odd about this movie, and I might be alone on this one, is the ending. Spoilers, but at the end, Cecilia kills Adrian using one of his invisible suits after he manipulates everyone into thinking his brother was guilty. Cecilia’s actions come out of nowhere. It makes for a cool twist, but the audience was never shown that she was a particularly apathetic or ruthless, in fact, it was seemingly the opposite. Whenever the invisible man tried to threaten one of her friends she immediately leapt to their defense. For her to go on the offensive like that at the end, it just seems wrong and feels weird.

Regardless, I enjoyed the Invisible Man. It’s a smart and scary movie with an interesting premise and a cool villain. I’d definitely recommend this movie, and I really liked it.

The Mandalorian Review

The Mandalorian is a 2019 Star Wars show directed by Jon Favreau and starring Pedro Pascal. It follows a bounty hunter trying to protect a child against the remnants of an evil empire. This show takes place within the Star Wars universe, and as such is heavily reliant upon the audience at least viewing the original trilogy. Because of that, this review may contain some terms not all readers may know if they haven’t seen the Star Wars movies.

The Mandalorian follows a bounty hunter, simply named Mando. He is originally hired to kill a bounty, however, after finding out the bounty is actually a child, he decides against it and takes in the child as his own, while fending off other bounty hunters along the way. This show is very fun to watch, and it’s been a while since we’ve gotten good Star Wars media like this. However, it can feel extremely awkward at times with it’s dialogue.

The Mandalorian is a typical space western, similar to my favorite tv show, Firefly. There’s some cliche western episode arcs, such as an episode that essentially is the Magnificent Seven set in space. However, the main reason this show feels new and unique, is the Star Wars elements involved. There’s no Jedi, or lightsabers, however the child Mando saves can use the force, and there are stormtroopers and references to the movies. These elements really make the show, and without them it probably wouldn’t be as good as it is.

The Main character in this show, and it’s namesake, is an unnamed Mandalorian mercenary, often just referred to as “Mando.” He falls into the typical “man with no name” stereotype, and his past and face are a mystery for most of the show. The Mandalorian religion however, is explored in this show through Mando, and this was actually very interesting. They’re forbidden from removing their helmets, and weapons are seen as being part of their religion. Scenes like this are fascinating, and really well done. Quotes like, “this is the way,” also make for very memorable lines.

The biggest problem with this show is that at times, it can feel extremely awkward. I can’t put my finger on why. But the dialogue and interaction between characters, particularly in the earlier episodes, can come off as extremely artificial and plain weird. It isn’t too much of a detraction from the show as a whole, but still, it’s worth mentioning as the show early on can feel incredibly awkward.

Overall, the Mandalorian, despite it’s awkward and off-putting dialogue in the earlier episodes, is a good show. The action is entertaining, and it features a cool main character. Sadly, this is a show that can really only be enjoyed by Star Wars fans, or at least those who have seen the movies. It’s s good show, even if it has a bit of a niche audience. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, definitely check out this show.

The King Of Staten Island Review

The King of Staten Island is a 2020 film directed by Judd Apatow starring Pete Davidson and Bill Burr. It follows a high school dropout who eventually learns to believe in himself and work hard.

This film centers around Scott, a 24 year old loser who still lives with his widowed mother. After he accidentally tattoos a nine year old, his mother meets a firefighter named Ray, who eventually acts like a surrogate father to Scott, and mentors him into becoming a better person. This movie doesn’t have a very conventional plot, and feels instead more like real life, and this both helps and hinders the movie greatly.

This movie is extremely uncompromising. What I mean is that, most movie’s compress their story. They don’t show the main character doing everything, because that would lead to too many needless scenes. This movie tends to feel extremely grounded and focused around real life. Character’s talk very realistically, and the events that happen in the movie, although unlikely and strange, still feel real, as often, our reality is stranger than our fiction. However, the trade off to this grounded realism feeling, is that the movie is way too long. It compresses virtually nothing, and too many scenes are pointless. They’re admittedly funny scenes, but ultimately they don’t help with anything. There’s unnecessary sub-plots like Scott’s restaurant having a fight club to see who gets tips, or Scott and his friends robbing a pharmacy and getting shot at. These scenes are absolutely entertaining, but they’re completely unnecessary and serve no purpose.

The absolute biggest problem with this movie however, is that there’s no pivot. In similar films to this, where it’s about a character’s redemption, there’s one moment the audience can point to and relate as being the main character’s pivot, or the moment where he changes to become a better human being. An example is in the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray’s character finally manages to get his fellow newscaster to love him. The King of Staten Island completely lacks a moment like this. It shows Scott working in the firehouse, and becoming somewhat of a better tattoo artist, but there’s no one moment the audience can point to as being the climax. The intended moment might’ve been when he saves a man who was shot from dying, but that doesn’t fit with his character arc. His flaw is being lazy and lacking self esteem, not being a nihilist or a horrible person. At the start of the film he still would’ve saved that person, so having that as the climax makes no sense and feels wrong.

However, this movie is still fun to watch. At first I didn’t like Pete Davidson’s character, but he grew on me, and by the end of the film I was rooting for him. Bill Burr is hilarious as Ray, and he has some incredibly funny lines. There are some good moments in this film, and some heartfelt ones, like when the firemen are discussing Scott’s father, and telling crazy stories about him. Moments like these are what this movie should’ve focused on, instead of dumb scenes about stoners robbing people.

All in all, despite it’s flaws, ultimately this is a good movie. It’s one that people should make their own judgements about, as this is a very polarizing film. Still, I enjoyed it, and it’s a fun film.

Baby Driver Review

Baby Driver is a 2017 movi directed by Edgar Wright and starring Ansel Elgort and Lily James. Baby Driver looks like a typical crime movie on the surface, however, upon closer inspection and viewing, it really is quite special and unique. It follows a getaway driver, named Baby, who must escape from both cops and members of his former crew after a heist gone radically wrong.

The main thing that makes this movie so special is the incredibly interesting protagonist. Baby suffers from a condition called tinnitus after a childhood car accident. Tinnitus is real, and my father actually has it. It causes one to hear a high pitched ringing all the time, and can drive people insane. To cope with this, Baby constantly listens to music, and tries to avoid talking with people as much as he can. This makes a unique and entertaining protagonist, and despite the fact that he doesn’t talk much, his dialogue is funny and very well written.

The other excellent aspect about this movie is the soundtrack. I personally didn’t really know any of the songs they featured, however, they all worked and really enhance this film. Standout ones were Bellbottoms, Hocus Pocus, and Radar Love. The movie matches all the incredible action happening onscreen to the beat of the song as well, be it driving, gunshots, or parkour. It makes all the action scenes, which are already exhilarating, even better. Additionally, there are little touches with the music as Easter eggs for the audience. For example one is that when there’s no music playing, a very faint ring can be heard in the background, representing Baby’s tinnitus. Another, is that in certain scenes where one of Baby’s earbuds come out, the music can only be heard on the side with the earbud still in. Little details like these really enhance the film and sell it.

Baby Driver is a great movie. It has all the necessary parts to a good crime film, but it elevates itself to another level due to the protagonist and soundtrack. It’s an incredibly fun film, and one well worth seeing.

The Shawshank Redemption Review

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 film directed by Frank Darabont and starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. It follows two men who spend their lives in the Shawshank prison, and the way that it affects them. This movie is great, and the chemistry between Red and Andy holds it together. The one thing I didn’t like is that at times, it can feel a little sappy due to the way it bluntly tries to get the audience to feel certain emotions.

The Shawshank Redemption takes place originally in the year 1947, and it follows Andy Dufresne, an innocent, but convicted murderer who is sent to Shawshank prison over the death of his cheating wife and her lover. There, he meets Red, a fellow prisoner who is known for smuggling items for fellow prisoners. There are a lot of twists and turns within this film, so naturally I’m not going to spoil the rest of the plot here.

Th relationship between Andy and Red is excellent. They have good chemistry and genuinely feel like they are friends. Certain scenes like Red giving Andy poster boards after he’s released from solitary really sell their relationship. The other characters are ok, mostly just cliche characters for every prison movie. There’s a brutal and unfair guard, a warden that is literally just a rip off from the one in escape from Alcatraz, and various prisoner stereotypes. They all serve their purpose, however, with the exception of perhaps the older prisoner Brooks who has a particularly stand out scene, none of them feel as fleshed our or well written as the main two characters.

The big thing I didn’t enjoy about this film, or found annoying, is that the movie is extremely blunt in the way it steers the audience. The score is very noticeable, and feels almost manipulative at times with the way it so clearly wants the audience to feel for the characters. The narration by Red can feel needless at times, and seems to have been done in purpose in order to make emotional scenes even more powerful. If anything, all these things lower how powerful some of the scenes are, because it makes it seem like the movie can’t show the audience a scene without trying to artificially enhance it through big annoying musical swells and narration in order to make the audience think the scene is greater than it actually is. I may be in the minority about this but these things got on my nerves.

Overall, although The Shawshank Redemption comes off at times a bit manipulative with the way it handles certain scenes, it ultimately is a good movie, and certainly a classic. It’s worth seeing, and I would definitely recommend it.

Knives Out review

This movie was recommended by a lot of my friends, and I finally got around to watching it. Knives Out is a mystery movie directed by Rian Johnson starring Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig. It follows the death of a wealthy mystery novel writer, and the mystery of who killed him. However, the biggest mystery I found with this movie, is how Rian Johnson can direct a piece of garbage like The Last Jedi one year, and then a great movie like Knives Out another year.

Knives Out stars Ana De Armes as Marta, the nurse and friend of a wealthy mystery writer. Marta as a character seems a little boring at the beginning, with her only real character trait being that she throws up when she lies. However, later on, she becomes much more interesting as she tries to cover her tracks and possible connection to murder. However, she always remains a good person, even throughout her Walter White-esque activities. And this was very intriguing, as although she’s tampering with evidence, she never succumbs to becoming a “true criminal” or bad person. At the end of the movie this is ultimately what saves her. The other major character is detective Blanc, played by Daniel Craig. He’s a very cool character, and he has some interesting speeches, however, his intense southern accent can be a bit annoying at times. I’m summing this was done in an effort to distance the actor from his 007 persona, but still, it feels out of place and annoying.

As far as the mystery within this mystery movie goes, it’s incredibly compelling and well done. Marta throughout the movie actually thinks she’s the murderer, due to an accidental morphine overdose, the audience in turn believes this too. Sadly however, although the murder reveal is cinematic, the true murderer itself is a little predictable, not in the sense that the audience suspects he tried to commit murder, but the audience does get a sense of an ulterior, sinister motive behind the character, therefore causing the audience to suspect him.

Another thing that must be mentioned about Knives Out is the music, and in particular, the fact that they used the song Animal Zoo from one of my favorite albums, Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. This is a very strange psychedelic album from the 70s that is incredibly unknown. Kudos to them that they even knew the song, and further credit that they decided to use it in the movie.

All in all, behind Looper, Knives Out might be Rian Johnson’s best film. It makes up for the abysmal train wreck that was The Last Jedi, and succeeds as a whodunnit movie, as well as a film overall. Knives Out is definitely a fun movie worth watching, and I really enjoyed it.