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Reevaluating My Views On The Star Wars Prequels

Good day to you ladies and gents, time for a special little blog post dedicated to the Star Wars film universe. Since The Force Awakens (Episode VII) will be out in cinemas in the coming months I’ve been recently catching up with the previous instalments in anticipation, and yes that includes the prequels. While there are a large number of fans that continue to act like those films never happened, I’m not one of them and I don’t hate those films either. Are they perfect? Heck no, but I’ve always found aspects of those films to be enjoyable. So with that in mind I wanted to give you all my thoughts on the prequels and how they’ve changed.

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My Thoughts in the Beginning

For the longest time I had very specific thoughts on the Prequel Trilogy, but in recent years I’ve had time to learn and understand the process that comes with making such epic films and learn about the production behind each of the Star Wars films. What was once awesome to me as a child doesn’t look that awesome these days and I’m not talking about the special effects only, these were films I liked watching (well at least episodes 1 and 3), but after watching so many online video reviews and other forms of analytical videos criticising the prequels I have changed my opinion somewhat. Though a lot of my feelings have been changed from watching the Original Trilogy in recent years and seeing what new filmmakers have been able to do with stories, sets and technology.

So with that in mind I’m going to give you my thoughts on each of the prequel films starting with The Phantom Menace!

Thoughts on The Phantom Menace

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Technically I’ve already given my thoughts on this film around 3 years ago, but for those who haven’t read that review I’ll try to sum up my thoughts the best I can. The Phantom Menace is infamous for being the film that ruined SW for a lot of fans with its focus on politics, a child Anakin Skywalker, Midichlorians and Jar Jar Binks and most consider it the lowest point in the series. When I first saw this film I thought it was awesome. I never paid attention to the story, all I saw was lightsaber fights and Podracing, and that’s all I needed. Bare in mind I was around 9 or 10 years old when first saw this film and I was very much into my action and spectacle coming off of films like Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and Aliens to name a few. TPM was a film I watched a lot until my late teens, I didn’t see the film again until it was re-released in 3D, it was at that point I really saw the film for what it was; a film with good special effects, action and music, but nothing else. The plot isn’t overly interesting as the starting point of the series and there are just a lot of odd decisions made for the characters and overall mythos. One thing that was super apparent was the lack of practical sets and real locations, there’s so much green screen and CGI, it just makes you wonder if the people behind this film were afraid to use anything but computers to craft their new worlds. As for Jar Jar, I used to thing of him as harmless, fun, but seeing TPM a dew days ago I can understand the hate. That guy is ridiculous, he’s like a frigging Looney Tunes character who has no business being in a SW film and even as the main source of comedy you don’t find him funny, he’s more infuriating than anything else. Oh and the additional scenes added to TPM don’t really add much to the film and are really noticeable when it is a scene with CGI. A lot of the acting is questionable ESPECIALLY from Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala, she’s so monotone and boring. With all that being said, everything I like about this film still stands, I love the lightsaber fights, the special effects are good, Darth Maul is cool, I like Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and the soundtrack is great especially “Duel of the Fates“.

Thoughts on Attack of the Clones

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Attack of the Clones, oh dear. While there is still this consensus out there that this film is better than its predecessor I respectfully disagree. While AOTC rectified some of the issues with the first prequel film, it still followed the same mistakes while creating a whole new bunch of them too. My thoughts were quite strong on this film when I first saw it when I was 12 years old and 13 years later not much has changed. This film wins points for having closer ties to the older films with interesting references, first appearances of classic characters and locations, and there was an overall sense of progression towards the Original Trilogy with the choice art design, costumes and locations. Also I appreciated some of the drama this film tried to create especially with Anakin, you can see what Lucas was trying to do and in more capable hands this could have been so much stronger, but I will give props to Lucas for the scene when Anakin and his mother are reunited briefly. That scene was pretty decent, it was a quiet, subtle moment and I thought it worked (even with Hayden Christensen’s acting skills), and what I really like is that Anakin’s found his mother and she’s alive just long enough to see him grown up, but then she dies and Anakin pretty much loses his shit on the Tusken Raiders with that beastly John Williams music swelling in the background. Other things I still like about this film was the improved CGI, cool action sequences, McGregor again as Obi-Wan and the introduction of Count Dooku played wonderfully by the late Christopher Lee. Oh and seeing Yoda actually battle in a lightsaber fight, awesome. Some people found it ridiculous and terrible but I found it hilariously badass…

HOWEVER! A lot of the good/decent aspects of this film are undone by the bad stuff, and trust me there’s a lot of it. This film’s main issue is the love story between Anakin and Padmé as it is one of the worst love stories ever put to film. The dialogue is terrible, there is no chemistry and acting is beyond bad. Their relationship just doesn’t come together well and feels forced, rather than a natural progression of a friendship into a partnership, and it doesn’t help that every line spoken between these two is really awkward or painful. That being said, I’ve memorised the dialogue to the point where I’ve quoted it with my SW friends and taken the piss so much that when I watch the film I can’t help but laugh. There are also wasted opportunities when it comes to Jango Fett, adding new mythology and the final battle between Obi-Wan, Anakin and Dooku (especially with Anakin and Dooku, that fight was half decent, half weird with spinning lightsabers). And like before the overuse of CGI and green screen when it comes to locations is very apparent, I think there were more real set locations than in the last film, but it was crazy how much of it I noticed with my film studies brain switched on.

Thoughts on Revenge of the Sith

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Okay so now we arrive at the final film in this series and I still like it. Now back when I saw ROTS in the cinema 10 years ago, I thought this film was SO cool and after I got it on DVD I watched a fair amount until my early twenties. This film more so than the previous films creates a tale full of action and drama that for the most part works, sure the love story aspect is still questionable and some things happen without explanation, but overall it is the most creative and strongest of the newer films. What I appreciated about this film was the darker tone, sense of scope and of course the closer ties to A New Hope. This film does a really good job with marrying the new with the old with the appearance of classic characters, costumes, set design and spacecrafts. I also love the action sequences, whether it is the introduction with that space battle, the lightsaber fights or the battle on Kashik, it is all handled in a really cool manner with awesome CGI and cinematography. Oh and the lightsaber fights are the bets so far. I loved the fight between Obi-Wan and General Grievous or Yoda vs. Dark Sidious or the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin, that stuff gets me giddy every time. Some other stuff I liked was the introduction of General Grievous, Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Sidious, the line “Unlimited Power!” and the ‘Execute Order 66′ montage. And once again I have to say that Ewan McGregor kills it as Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s the most consistent aspect of the prequels and with each film he gets better and by this film his performance was very in line with Alex Guinness’ performance.

Of course this film is safe from scrutiny. The film still has some of that bad dialogue not just for the scenes between Padmé and Anakin, but for some of the other characters especially Dark Sidious, and speaking of Sidious… Ian McDiarmid, he was clearly having fun with the role in this one, but sometimes he was hamming it up a little too much and sometimes you can’t take the guy seriously. Again this film has some good ideas with the story, specifically with Anakin’s transfer to the dark side and his issues with Padmé, but again the execution was questionable and left a lot to be desired. The use of special effects is great but again you can see that there wasn’t much that wasn’t green screen of CGI. Oh and Darth Vader, I loved his introduction and seeing him get angry, use the force, stumble along, but that “NOOOOOOO!” line, damn, it just ruins that scene really.

Well that’s my take on these films. I can tell there’s a lot people who won’t agree with my opinion on these films and I say bring on the hate. These films haven’t always been looked at in a positive light but I’m seeing more and more these days with people voicing their favourable aspects of the prequels and I want to add to it. 😀 But anyway how about you lot? Do find anything redeemable about the prequels? Do you even like the prequels or do you despise them like everyone else? OR are you like, “Huh? What prequels?” Please be sure to comment below, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Films, Media

 

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Favourite Songs #35: John Williams – Duel of the Fates

Howdy people of the interweb, and welcome to the 35th edition of my series of blog posts dedicated to some of my favourite songs ever in life. Today I’m going be talking about one of the most epic songs to have ever been created not only in film but in life, I am of course talking about the beastly “Duel of the Fates” by John Williams.

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Yes, yes, YES! This is what I’m talking about. For the longest time I have loved this song, it has always evoked a sense of epincess and badassery that have always known since childhood and since then my love for this song has only gotten stronger.

Check out this awesome tune below:

How do you feel after hearing this song? Do you not feel like you’ve been taken on an epic adventure? Like you’ve experienced the most amazing thing your ears have ever heard? That’s how I felt after hearing this the first time and every time since that feeling has never faded.

So what makes “Duel of the Fates” one of the best songs ever? BECAUSE IT IS! Sure that’s no description, but does there really need to be one? Everyone knows the epicness of this song, it is almost of legendary status. For the sake of this review I will try to describe why this song is awesome. This song has the best combination of bombastic and omnipotent classical music and incredible choir work. From the time it begins, you are introduces to a gorgeous choir and then a building load of instruments that later explodes into an immense sound of intense beauty. The song winds down to be calm, but then builds up and gets fierce as hell, like the heavens are opening up, hell is rising from the depths of the earth and both forces are clashing.

Those who are familiar with their Star Wars material will know that this song debuted when Qui Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi fought Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Sure, certain fans always argue that The Phantom Menace is not only one of the worst SW films, but also one of the worst films of all time. But one can not deny the epicness of the lightsaber fights, ESPECIALLY the major fight sequence mentioned above and this song was one of the main factors that made it work so well. And then there’s the man behind the music, John Williams, one of the most important and famous film composers in the history of film, crafted this piece along with the rest of the Phantom Menace soundtrack. Williams knows his music, his collection of work is varied and delivers different levels of awesomeness and while he crafted so many good pieces in the Original Star Wars Trilogy, I feel like this is on another level. The intensity of this song sets my soul on fire and is pretty much the best song of the Prequel Trilogy.

So to conclude Duel of the Fates” by John Williams is simply one of the best songs in existence. It is so gorgeous, ferocious and manly! Over the years I have come to love this song more and more. The super kick ass nature of this song is just off the radar and as a fan of classical music and an overall fan of film soundtracks, this is godly to me. This is perfection. If you haven’t experienced it, stop what you’re doing, check it out and get back to me.

Well that’s another song review done, what do you think of my song choice today? Whatever your thoughts are leave me a comment below and be sure to come back next time for another song review yo! 😀

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in Films, Media, Music, Reviews

 

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D Review

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Howdy to all who are reading this blog post and welcome to another film review and today’s review will be on the re-release of the first prequel in the Star Wars series; Star War Episode 1: The Phantom Menace… In 3D!! (not that the 3D part really matters haha)

Oh and before I go into this review I’m going to go into some degree of detail so beware of potential spoilers in the review.

Now when I found out that The Phantom Menace was going to be re-released in the cinema again in 3D I was like “What the hell!?! Why? Does George Lucas really need all that additional money? And doesn’t the majority of fans hate that film? Just why?” And so I investigated online and found out that this was going to be first part of the six films to be released again in the cinema in 3D. So then I was like “Oh good gravy, I should have seen this coming.” I mean with Star Wars being released on home video and DVD like 5 times in different editions with special updates to each one it should come as no surprise that it would find its way back into the cinema considering the potential money-making it could do and not only that, but with the addition of 3D and with the amount that those kind of films take in each year then it would be great for Star Wars to get a quick post-converted image job and then be released to the public. So here we are in 2012 with the first installment in the Star Wars film saga, The Phantom Menace that originally came out back in 1999, so after around 15 years does the film still hold up? Well yes and no in a lot of ways.

I’m not going to bother explaining the plot because most people who have seen Star Wars know what the deal is already, but if I had to summarize The Phantom Menace is basically meant to be the starting point of the entire Star Wars saga, giving us a story of a world set before the original trilogy, explaining the origin of one of the most pivotal characters in all of the films, Anakin Skywalker. This film gives us his origin story as well as an insight into the world of the Jedi before they became next to extinct in the original trilogy and it introduces us to whole new worlds and characters who play a part in setting the events that lead up into A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

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The story overall is pretty decent for what it is, but as the starting point for a film series as highly regarded as Star Wars its kind of messy in a lot of ways. It deals in a whole lot nonsense that doesn’t really have a place in world of Star Wars like politics and corruption in the world of government-based things, long and dull conversations about things not overly relevant to what’s happening at the current point in time and its these aspects that really bring the film down. This is especially bad for kids watching Star Wars for the first time, they won’t care about all this talking bullshit, they’re just watching for the spectacle. The long-winded conversations and scenes of debate and government will turn them right off. But the rest of the film’s plot is pretty nice, we see how the Jedi get involved in Anakin’s life, we also get to see what the younger life of Obi-Wan Kenobi and see Yoda too in a more active state. We also learn more about the Sith and see how Queen Padmé Amidala’s appearance in the film series establishes a connection with Anakin Skywalker too. We get to visit some familiar locations and characters that fans of the original trilogy would be interested to see like the first appearances of R2-D2 and C-3PO, its like noticing subtle easter eggs lurking around that you spot throughout the film. Anyway as I said before the plot of this is decent, but as the start of a film series like Star Wars it leaves so many questions unanswered like say why the Jedi exist in the first place or why the overall new form of enemies are droids or why there is a Galactic Republic or why the Sith have returned randomly out of nowhere. While some of those points are kind of irrelevant or just nitpicking it does make one wonder about some of those things.

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When it comes to the presentation of The Phantom Menace surprisingly it holds up pretty well and in many ways is the best part about the first prequel film. Say what you will about the story but when it comes to action and audio I believe that The Phantom Menace delivers on many levels of awesomeness. The CGI is still fabulous and works throughout most of the film, from the futuristic setting of Coruscant to the fight against the Federation droid control ship in space to the brutality of the podracing to the Gungan fight against the massive droid army, everything holds up pretty well. even small things like the look of Jedi’s lightsabers looks crisp, sharp and lovely and its pretty surprising considering that this was done back in 1999. But with the picture enhancements that the films have gotten in the last few years and the fact that Industrial Light & Magic worked on this film means that one shouldn’t be too surprised. And in terms of audio, the sound production on this film is pretty cool too showcasing some great sound effects for lasers and explosions and things of that nature, but all of that pales in comparison to the epic soundtrack constructed by John Williams. Good god the soundtrack for this film is so epic, so powerful, so absolutely incredible that it really is beyond words in a lot of ways. The song “Duel of the Fates” is simply incredible and totally orgasmic, yes I will even admit that. When it’s used in the film in the lightsaber fight between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul, holy man it just sets my soul on fire and my just mind just explodes!

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Also I don’t think I can mention the presentation of this film without talking about the 3D aspect of the film. Was it good and did it add anything to the film? No, absolutely not. While I didn’t expect that adding another dimension to the film would make any proper difference, the thing is I’m sure I read in an interview that this film’s 3D would make an actual difference to the film’s quality unlike most post-converted 3D films of present. And yet I never really noticed the 3D aspects of the film after the first 10 minutes of the film, in some areas of the film its noticeable but otherwise the 3D in The Phantom Menace is invisible. The best films I saw in 3D have been Avatar and Kung-Fu Panda 2 because the 3D in those films felt like it had a presence, it was actually noticeable and it added depth of field to the picture. However this is not the case with The Phantom Menace, it’s just another film that didn’t need the 3D conversion at all.

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There’s also one other thing to mention and that is new footage and picture quality. Before going to watch the film me and a friend wondered if they were going to show the original version of The Phantom Menace or whether it would have the additions that came with the recent Blu-ray release of all six Star Wars films and funnily enough we got to see The Phantom Menace with all of the enhancements from the Blu-ray release with several additional scenes, better picture quality and the massive addition of the CGI Yoda to replace the puppet original. These changes range from great to completely unnecessary. The new CGI Yoda looks great and now he looks like he fits in the whole of the prequel trilogy, though I can’t help but feel like he looks a little too detailed when compared to his later appearances in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, plus even though the new Yoda looks good I can’t help but look past it and remember every scene with the original puppet version. And when it come to the new scenes some of them are completely irrelevant like some additional bits in between scenes on Coruscant. Most of the new scenes are noticeable around the point of Anakin’s podrace from the introduction of the riders to additional scenes in the actual podracing itself which are interesting to see but not entirely necessary.

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To be honest I’ve always kind of like The Phantom Menace. While it was one of the first films I remember from my younger days in the cinema, it does have a special place in my memories and has that nostalgic quality that has never left me since I was 9 years old. After the seeing the film recently I realised that my love for this film extends far beyond the nostalgic aspects. The spectacle is still pretty lovely, the Jedi kicked ass (especially Obi-Wan) with their brilliantly choreographed lightsaber duels against Darth Maul who I swear is still one of the coolest Siths ever. As I said before the soundtrack is still incredible with John Williams delivering in every way and the funnily the film was pretty hilarious too, though not for the obvious reasons, like when me and my friends were laughing at aliens from the Trade Federation as their accents are just frigging hilarious or just when we were completely ripping into Jar Jar Binks because he’s such an idiot. Plus my experience of this film was heightened on an epic level because I went to view it with two friends who are Star Wars fanatics like me and we were in our element quoting several moments from the film and we were so in sync about several parts of the film, it was perfect.

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However now after watching the film again in 3D with the knowledge that I have as a media student who studied film beforehand I’ve noticed this film doesn’t hold up as well as it used to. For the most part it was nice for nostalgia’s sake, but there were several moments where I was just bored waiting for something more interesting to happen or where Jar Jar’s comedy antics were just getting on my nerves. But for all its problems I still like in The Phantom Menace, there’s a lot to like, but it’s really down to personal preference; if you like all of the Star Wars films then this’ll be a fun trip down memory lane, but if you’re one of those fans that only like the original trilogy than this film won’t change your mind at all and if you are new to the Star Wars film series than I would say give it a go.

Rating: 8/10

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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