This weekend I watched The Last Jedi for only the second time – and the first since I originally saw it opening weekend in theaters. I’d stayed away from it because, well let’s face it, Star Wars discourse has gotten heavy over the last two years. I’d enjoyed the movie and for a bit was a hell-or-high water defender against the trolls. But eventually it wears you down and my enthusiasm for everything Star Wars diminished. I wrote posts on my initial feelings on The Last Jedi and about some of the harassment that Kelly Marie Tran faced last year.
But between The Mandalorian and Jedi: Fallen Order this year I’ve gotten the Star Wars bug again. So going into episode 9 I thought I’d refresh myself and rewatch The Last Jedi to see how I felt about it two years later. And I’m pleased to report that it’s still a good movie. In fact, it’s a great movie.
Let’s dig in, shall we? (Spoilers for The Last Jedi, obviously.)
A few weeks after The Force Awakens released in 2015, I wrote a blog post summarizing my thoughts on it for a different blog. As The Rise of Skywalker is about to hit theaters on Friday, I thought it would be pertinent to look back at my feelings on it. I’m reposting it in its entirety, unedited, here to start what will hopefully be a week of Star Wars blogging leading up to the movie’s release on Friday.
So here’s a look back at what I wrote in January 2016. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my thoughts on The Last Jedi after I rewatched it this weekend, then on Wednesday and Thursday I will be talking about The Mandalorian and Jedi: Fallen Order. I’ll probably have thoughts on Episode 9 as well, but likely not until the new year as I’ve waited a bit after each movie before posting my thoughts. Anyway, enjoy this blast from my writing past:
Welcome to another bonus episode of Make Me A Gamer! This was originally scheduled to go up last week while TMan was taking a break after PAX East, but instead you get it this week! This week’s regular scheduled episode will be coming as well!
For this bonus episode, as a follow-up to Episode 28’s Movie Franchise March Madness, TMan made a bracket of all the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, excluding the two Ant-Mans since HarveyZ hasn’t seen them. HarveyZ goes through each match-up and crowns the best movie of the MCU, and TMan throws his opinions into the mix as well. No video games on this bonus, but a whole lot of movie talk! We hope you enjoy this slight tangent! (This episode was recorded March 21, 2019.)
So last year I wrote up the 2017 T-Man Movie Awards and talked about some of my favorite movies of the year in a wide variety of categories. This year I ended up naming my gaming superlatives the Manatees (see here and here, with special thanks to my good friend HarveyZ) and it seemed a shame to not also do awards for 2018 movies as well. Since I was struggling with a name for them last year, I might as well adopt my gaming name for movies as well. I will mostly be using the same categories as last year, with a few changes here and there. Some categories will have runners-up if I felt like there were multiple movies that were worth mentioning – others will only have one if they were particular standouts or if nothing else really impressed me enough to be mentioned.
Without further ado, I present to you TMan’s Movie Manatees for 2018!
It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another top 5!
In honor of the Velvet Buzzsaw trailer releasing yesterday (and it being a phenomenal trailer to the point that I almost considered dropping it on this list straight out the gate) I decided to list my top 5 movie trailers of all-time.
Movie trailers are very key in garnering interest in a movie. The right trailer can add hype to a movie when there was none, and a bad trailer can make people less interested in seeing it. Sometimes trailers give away too much, others don’t give you enough idea of what the movie will be about. Some trailers have stuck with me more than the movies have and others have led me to watching some of my all-time favorite movies. This is my top 5. (And Velvet Buzzsaw is #6 at this moment for sure.)
I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve read all the books and seen a few of the movies, mostly through the influence of multiple women throughout my life. I like the universe in general but I’ve never been super obsessed with which house I belong to or wishing I got an owl mail sending me to the American equivalent of Hogwarts. (Ilvermorny, right?)
As such, I didn’t come into the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise with too much excitement or baggage. I was interested but not enthusiastic. When I saw the first one in theaters I liked it but came out of the movie theater feeling like something was off. It bothered me because I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong or express what was bothering me about the movie. When I watched it again this weekend before seeing Crimes of Grindelwald, I still enjoyed it but also still felt the same sense of “something isn’t quite right.”
I saw Crimes of Grindelwald and actually didn’t like it. But on top of not liking it, I felt the same unexplainable nagging in the back of my head and it began to frustrate me because I wanted to be able to vocalize what was bugging me. So I thought about both movies together to try and figure out what it was – and I finally got my Eureka moment.
It was the narrative structure that was bothering me.
I’m not going to talk about canon or retcons or universe-related problems in this critique- instead I’m going to focus on the narrative and overall plotlines of both movies. There will be major spoilers of both Crimes of Grindelwald and Fantastic Beasts, so if you haven’t seen them both and want to remain unspoiled, read no further.
In 1995, Paul W.S. Anderson directed Mortal Kombat, a movie based on the popular video game. In the 23 years since the CGI has become dated and none of the fight scenes have aged particularly well – the choreography isn’t bad but isn’t anything to write home about either. Its most high profile actors – Christopher Lambert and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa – both have very hammy performances and none of the other principal actors really had breakout careers. Since then, technology for both video games and movies have improved and video games have more and more interesting stories to tell. And yet, despite all that, Mortal Kombat is still generally regarded as one of the best video game movies ever made and possibly the best of them all – by video game players at least.
These past two days I saw both Rampage and the new Tomb Raider, and I can tell you that neither of them will come close to the best video game movie ever made. Neither of them were the worst video game movie ever made either – I’ll get to what holds that title later on – but they were sufficiently bland enough to knock themselves out of the running to be a favorite.
So why is it that video game movies have such a bad rap? Movies that are based on books, or comics, or TV shows, or pretty much any other form of entertainment – they can turn out well. But when you add “based on a video game” to a movie there’s going to be a loud groan and a fierce rolling of the eyes. It’s almost expected for video game movies to be bad, and people are “pleasantly surprised” when they’re “not awful.” But why? Well, I’m going to dissect Rampage and Tomb Raider and hopefully provide a little insight as to how Hollywood keeps making clunkers out of possible interesting storylines.