Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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With a Star Wars movie coming out every year for the rest of our lives, one might say that we better get used to it. Disney’s going to keep making them, and more than likely we’re going to keep seeing them. But lately the franchises that Disney owns (i.e. Marvel) have become some of the most reliable series in terms of quality, and after the smash hit that was the Force Awakens last year, surely Star Wars should follow that pattern too?

Forty years ago, one of the biggest movies of all time opened with this one line of text: “During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR”. A seemingly pivotal moment in the Rebel fight, yet one we know nothing about. Who were the spies? What was the battle? What happened to them?

Set just before A New Hope, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story follows lone wolf Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of Imperial scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), as she is caught up with the Rebel Alliance and a ragtag group of fighters in an attempt to find her father and destroy his Imperial weapon: the newly built Death Star.

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Despite its strong, affective opening following young Jyn and her family, Rogue One falls victim to a slow burning plot which, for the first two thirds, presents itself in clear sections: go to Jeddah, find Saw, then go to Eadu, find Galen, and so on. At first feeling episodic, with no main motivation carrying us through, Rogue One really picks up in its final act, the slow burn turning into fast-paced action and a tense race for Jyn to deliver the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. Relationships climax, and tension rises, as we know that not all of our heroes will make it, but that makes the inevitable victory all the more bittersweet, knowing they fought for a cause they believed in. 

However, the slow moving plot is hindered by the fact that the Empire, with no clear plan for their new weapon once it’s actually built, doesn’t pose as significant a threat as we’re used to, instead caught up in its own internal politics, so by the time things gear up in the third act, the power struggle between Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic and Grand Moff Tarkin is underdeveloped and seems petty. 

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But as Star Wars’ first true war film, Rogue One is every bit as gritty and action packed as it should be. The spectacular starship fights are some of the most skilled we’ve seen, showing off the power and artillery of the Rebel Alliance before it was decimated to what was left in A New Hope. These clashes are second only to the film’s earth-bound battles: the breathtaking Maldives scenery in the final act is set to be one of the series’ most iconic settings, and the hidden, rain-soaked forests on the planet Eadu earlier in the film are incredibly tactile and imposing. The planet Jeddah also lends the film its shady, roguish (if you will) feel – we are, after all, following a band of criminals, spies, defectors and extremists.

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These rogues might have been next in a long tradition of brilliant Star Wars characters, but only just manage to live up to their awesome potential. Felicity Jones’ Jyn is not nearly as much the reluctant hero as the trailers made her out to be (even her infamous “I rebel” line was cut), and what could’ve been her fascinating backstory as a criminal (she’s in jail when we meet her, for goodness’ sake) is missing, but her personality and belief in good grows as she becomes closer to Cassian and her crew and slowly becomes part of the rebellion. Her relationship with Cassian and the rest of her crew isn’t fully developed, not capitalising on huge potential and the hints of great chemistry, but what is there is still sweet, a blooming friendship and romance that manages to hit the sweet spot more than once, and make hearts swell. 

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Despite the fact that Cassian’s oft-hinted to background as an assassin leaves us with only an image of what his character could have been, Diego Luna gives a resilient but tender performance, and the entire supporting cast is brilliant in the face of their oh-so-intriguing characters not being given the spotlight they deserve. Wen Jiang’s kind soldier Baze Malbus and Donnie Yen’s blind, martial-arts fighting, force-believing Chirrut Imwe have enough chemistry and possible backstory to helm their own stand-alone film, and Riz Ahmed’s defected Imperial pilot offers something so interesting and fresh to the franchise, yet their characters weren’t explored very deeply, leaving the audience wanting more in the saddest kind of way. 

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Alan Tudyk’s droid K2SO was brilliant, however, a sarcastic converted Imperial droid that says whatever he thinks, and his humour was a nice touch that was actually preferable to C3PO’s usual alarmed narration. Though Ben Mendelsohn’s villain Krennic was sardonic and menacing, his imposition was undercut by a ridiculously cartoonish reimagining of Peter Cushing’s grand Moff Tarkin, and Darth Vader’s much-speculated appearance was too more fan service than a necessity to the plot.

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Rogue One is a classic case of ‘okay, but they could have done more’. Though the plot finally makes it to exciting and tense, it takes us a long way to get there, and characters with such potential only reach half of it, leaving us wanting more. But with spectacular visuals and some beautiful, moving moments, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is still powerful and spectacular, but if Disney is going to continue making Star Wars films, they need a stronger focus on the human element, otherwise we’ll just get lost in space. 

7/10.

The top five counts are back! Rogue One drew a huge cast, so here’s my top five favourite films and TV shows starring the cast of Rogue One:

  1. The Theory of Everything – Felicity Jones
  2. Big Hero 6 – Alan Tudyk
  3. The Terminal (yes, I actually enjoy the Terminal, and I especially like him in it) – Diego Luna
  4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Jimmy Smits
  5. Arrival – Forest Whitaker

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/mediaviewer/rm2058748672

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Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (A Second Look)

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We finally made it to the end of Star Wars Week! Day Seven means Episode VII – The Force Awakens, the most recent Star Wars film that brought us back from a time when Star Wars films weren’t a sure thing, and restored our hope for the future of Star Wars. When I reviewed it when it came out, I loved it, but a year on from release, is it still as good?

Thirty years after the Battle of Endor, the First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire and is tightening their grip on the galaxy, led by General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) and Sith Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). With Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in hiding, scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) must team up with a droid and two familiar smugglers, Han and Chewbacca, to help the Resistance destroy the First Order’s new weapon and complete a map which will lead them to Luke.

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With the rose-coloured glasses of hype behind us, The Force Awakens is still good – but its faults are more obvious. Its story is far from perfect, rehashing a lot of plot points from A New Hope: the orphan (or is she?) on a sand planet, a Cantina-esque scene, a new Death Star. Even the death of Rey’s would-be mentor by an old friend (did I forget to say spoiler alert?) harks back to the very first film, with Kylo Ren’s slaughtering of Han very reminiscent of Darth Vader killing Obi-Wan. These familiar plot points don’t make the film bad – after all, Return of the Jedi borrowed much from A New Hope as well, and was a solid film – but hopefully we’ll see more of what the galaxy has to offer in Episode VIII. And where the film isn’t familiar, some scenes are just unnecessary; the rathtar sequence is a complete deviation from the rest of the film, with no real repercussion for the rest of the story, and doesn’t hold up with further viewing of the film.

Yet I have always argued that the most important part of Star Wars is the characters: it is not the situations that they get themselves into, but how they deal with them, that we are connected to, and that’s what makes Star Wars such a great space opera. Old and new, the characters in the Force Awakens take what is sometimes a familiar setting and make it engaging and fresh again: Rey’s life on Jakku is far different from Luke’s on Tatooine, as she must scavenge and work hard to merely stay alive. Why was she left there? Who is she waiting for? Daisy Ridley’s intriguing and lovable performance as Rey was one of the highlights of the film, and though her character seems to succeed at almost everything so far, it’s wonderful to see yet another strong, determined female Star Wars character, and I have no doubt we’ll watch her struggle more in the films to come.

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Her chemistry with John Boyega’s Finn is sweet and fun, as Finn offers something new to the franchise: an ex-stormtrooper on the run from the First Order. With Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron every bit as charismatic and cocky as Han once was, and his adorable, scene-stealing droid BB-8, Abrams has assembled a solid rag-tag team for the rest of the trilogy, and an even more menacing villain. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is the best part of The Force Awakens, from his lightsaber (which is not as clean-cut as ones we’ve seen before) to his mask, his uncontrollable anger, piercing gaze and intriguing family history. More than just the emo-kid meme that has sprouted on the internet, Kylo Ren’s dedication to finishing what Darth Vader started is possibly the most intriguing part of his arc: after all, Darth Vader turned good in the final moments of his life.

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From the new to the older, catching up with the Skywalkers thirty years later was both a blessing and a curse in the right ways, as, with Luke having disappeared and with the loss of their son, Han and Leia are further apart than ever, which, considering the end of the film, will never be the same again. In saying that, seeing Han and Chewie back in the Millennium Falcon after all these years was a beautiful moment, and Harrison Ford never lost that roguish charm, as he is, once again, one of the funniest parts of the film, especially his trash-compactor joke. Speaking of which, the references to the older films this time around weren’t all perfect: most stick their landing, but there were one or two too many that, combined with the similar storylines to the first, made the film a little bit too similar.

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Yet, sometimes, feeling similar and being similar to the originals are two different things: the prequels were missing that magic feeling that didn’t allow them to feel as special as the originals, but the Force Awakens has magic in spades. JJ Abrams use of practical effects and his exciting direction made the film thrilling and spectacular, with many of the film’s fight scenes, such as the battle around Maz Kanata’s Cantina on Takodana and the beautiful lightsaber battle in the snow at the end, up there as some of the series’ best. The Force once again felt mystical and all-powerful, and definitely had an air of mystery to it, during Rey’s dream sequence on Takodana, that creates some questions in need of answers.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Force Awakens just feels like a Star Wars film. In a time when films are being brought back from the dead and, more often than not, being tarnished by soulless remakes, reboots and sequels, the Force Awakens is both a love letter and a new beginning for the Star Wars franchise. Despite it’s familiarity to the first film, it’s still a great film, as it captures the wonder and heart of the stories that first fascinated us by focusing on its strong characters, and building a beautiful world around them, full of danger and magic. It’s not perfect, but not all the Star Wars movies are. It’s a nice welcome home.

8/10.

And that means it’s time for Rogue One soon!!!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2488496/mediaviewer/rm3686004224
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Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi


It’s the last film before the most recent Episode VII, and it’s probably the Star Wars movie that I watched most during my childhood. Does Return of the Jedi hold up after all we’ve been through?

The answer is: yes, it does. 

After rescuing Han from Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine, Luke, Han and Leia go to Endor to help the rebellion destroy the Second Death Star and put an end to the Empire. But Luke is still haunted by Darth Vader’s revelations on Cloud City, especially after Yoda tells him that he has more family than he thought in the galaxy. 


The opening scenes on Tatooine are some of the most memorable from the whole series (not least because of Leia’s metal bikini); when Han is unfrozen from carbonite and there is a huge battle against Jabba the Hutt’s men and the Sarlacc, it shows us a different side of Han, more vulnerable, and gives us a kickass Leia. It also shows us how far Luke has come in his Jedi training, resulting in an arena-style brawl that was mimicked later by the Attack of the Clones (successfully, though, because that scene is also awesome). 

From there, things start to get a little familiar, with Luke’s return to Dagobah and the plans to destroy the Second Death Star being almost identical to the first, but the emotional notes of this film are entirely different and set Return of the Jedi apart. Yoda’s death is both heartbreaking and intriguing, as he leaves Luke with crucial information about Leia, and the following scenes on Endor are so different to what we’ve seen so far.


This is because Endor as a planet is so different, all forestry and tree houses, the home to the Ewoks. Though the Ewoks get a lot of crap for being “the Gungans of the original trilogy”, I find this unfair, and was quite smitten with them as a child. They’re also a great ally in the many battle scenes that take place, setting them aside from the battles in previous films. The Speeder chase on Endor is also exciting and awesome, and the scenes with the Ewoks in the treehouse are quite entertaining, especially since one of the most iconic Star Wars scenes takes place there: Luke’s reveal to Leia. 

As the film enters its dramatic third act, Luke’s scenes with the Emperor and Darth Vader on the Death Star are fascinating as they debate the nature of anger within goodness and evil, the ultimate dichotomy that has plagued the Jedi since the beginning: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Luke and Darth Vader’s lightsaber battle is easily the best of the original films, and Vader’s death scene at the end is touching, especially as he insists that Luke tell Leia of his final good act. 


Meanwhile, Han and Leia’s Battle of Endor is exciting and somewhat amusing, as tiny Ewoks take on stormtroopers and our heroes struggle to deactivate the Death Star shield. As Han and Leia’s relationship is tested, both throughout this film and the entire series, it is a relief to see them happy together. The final scenes, all happy and partying, are lovely, and personally, after watching all the prequels on this journey through the series, seeing Hayden Christensen as Anakin at the end was a little bit satisfying, because he was finally redeemed (yes, unfortunately I live in a time of the special editions and never saw Sebastian Shaw as Anakin redeemed, but I’ve never been able to know anything else).


In such an acclaimed series, the finale is often the hardest to pull off. Though not quite as good as the first two, Return of the Jedi is an exciting and extremely satisfying end to a brilliant trilogy, wrapping up all of our favourite storylines and redeeming one of history’s most complex villains. 

8/10. 

Talk soon, 

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:

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Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back


It’s Day 6 of Star Wars Day, and today I’m bringing to you not one, but two reviews, starting with the Empire Strikes Back!
How do you even begin to criticise one of the greatest movies ever made?

After a rebel base on Hoth is attacked by the Empire and must be evacuated, Luke (Mark Hamill) travels to Dagobah to seek Jedi training from an old friend of Ben’s. Meanwhile, Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) struggle with their feelings for each other as they evade the capture of the Empire and a bounty hunter, who is after the prize on Han’s head. 


Right from the beginning it’s fantastic, dropping you right into the action, with the scenes on Hoth action packed, full of humour and tension, but never skimping on the character development. Because throughout all the action, Empire is a character-driven story, with our characters splitting up for the first time. 


Luke’s journey in Dagobah is beautiful; the foggy swamps and lush greenery reinforce the spiritual power of the Force, and as Luke struggles with the idea of the Dark Side for the first time and learns more about his father and Darth Vader, we see a more battle-worn Luke, less naive and more worldly than the Luke of A New Hope. And then, of course, there’s his master Yoda; chaotic good in pint-sized form, the series’ arguably most iconic character makes his unforgettable debut here, teaching Luke to question the nature of good and evil in his own, grammar-defying way. 

Han and Leia’s trip to Cloud City may not be quite so iconic, but their romance is, and Fisher and Ford’s chemistry (likely bolstered by their secret affair that Fisher recently went public with) is sweet and intense, particularly in light of the dramatic cliffhanger that the film ends on. The Empire Strikes Back is by far the most dramatic of the original films, with Han’s suave, double-crossing frenemy in the form of the brilliant Billy Dee Williams, the in-depth discussion of what it means to be good, and the biggest reveal in the history of cinema: “No, I am your father.” This tense, climactic scene is the pivotal moment of the entire franchise, the one that changed the future of storytelling, and even today it carries this weight with an unassuming grace: the most important reaction is Luke’s, in the moment. 


But for all the drama, the film never loses its sense of action and fun; scenes aren’t bogged down by exposition, but are lifted up by Han’s quips, Leia’s insults and C3PO’s manic depressive one-liners. The starship chases are spectacular, as is Luke’s lightsaber fight with Darth Vader, and Han even manages to look cool as he’s about to be frozen in carbonite, scared yet effortless. 


Truth is, you could try and criticise the Empire Strikes Back all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great film. It mastered the great sequel conundrum that plagues Hollywood blockbusters today: it was bigger, and better, and still manages to have an intimate feel to it, focusing on the character drama, and not just setting characters up for situations. Of course, great movies are still being made today, but when it comes to big blockbusters, they don’t make them like they used to. 

10/10.

Talk soon,

Jessica X

Photos taken from IMDB.com:

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Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope 


Back into the reviews in the home stretch before Rogue One! It’s the very first original Star Wars film, so how does it compare to the ones we’ve so far seen? (Hint: very well.)


It’s the film that built an Empire, gave us a rebellion and created a franchise, spawning now seven sequels and franchise films, but more than that, it’s one of my favourite films of my childhood. Rewatching Episode IV was a pleasure. With the Galactic Empire’s new weapon, the Death Star, finally finished, our young hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) teams up with a roguish pilot (Harrison Ford), a wise old Jedi (Alec Guinness) and two reliable droids (Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels) to rescue the captured rebel Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and help her destroy the Death Star. 


Though it starts off pretty slow, as we follow the galaxy’s favourite droids just wandering around Tatooine and finding a whiny teenager, it really gets going once Luke meets Old Ben Kenobi, and goes straight to lightspeed from there. It’s then that we get to learn and experience Lucas’ original mythology on everything: the spiritual Force, Ben’s mysterious past as Obi-Wan and his relationship with Luke’s father, and Darth Vader’s origins. Already we can sense a world that presents itself fully formed, and as we discover the ways of the Force and the reach of the Empire, we know there is so much more to come in the films to follow. Yet almost nothing feels short-changed or unexplained and the film on its own is incredibly immersive. Coming from a time when the prequels didn’t exist, these stories must have seemed so legendary and mystical, and seeing Luke learn about his past for the first time is still a special experience, especially since Obi-Wan was such a strong character in the prequels. His return in the form of Alec Guinness is reverential in this film, completing his story beautifully.


Speaking of strong characters, our first meeting of Han Solo in the Cantina scene is iconic, with Harrison Ford really setting him up as a charming, devilish character, charismatic but could double cross you at any moment. His beloved Millennium Falcon and best friend/first mate Chewbacca also make their first appearances, in some brilliant scenes that would be echoed in films to come. The Cantina scene, which is a feast for the senses, is in stark contrast to our introduction to Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin on the Death Star, which is so wonderfully tense and threatening, thanks to James Earl Jones’ commanding voice and Peter Cushing’s harsh features, and it gives the Empire an immense presence. One brief mention of the Emperor also reminds us that a greater power is looming, ensuring the continuation of the tyrannical Empire. 


On the flip side of leadership is Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, her kind wisdom balanced out by her strong, sassy presence. She doesn’t take any crap, but also stands strong in the face of the destruction of her people, and is a great role model and strong character. Our beloved droids C3PO and R2-D2 also make their debut appearance, bringing much of the humour to a film that is as lighthearted as it is action-packed. The odd couple share some of the great underestimated one-liners of the series in this film, such as “I’m sure it must be your fault”, but the entire ensemble contributes to the comedy. The hilarious yet high stakes trash compactor scene is also one of my favourite scenes in Star Wars, and of all time, but A New Hope is full of many iconic scenes that are just one of the reasons why it is a great film. 


The Empire Strikes Back may be considered the best Star Wars film, but A New Hope will always hold a special place in my heart within the original trilogy. It is a great introduction to many of our favourite characters, as well as our first fleeting look at one of the universe’s greatest characters, and with iconic scenes, award winning music and fantastic performances, it successfully sets up the brilliant world in which one of the greatest franchises of all time grew. 

8/10. 

Do you share my love of A New Hope? Or are you just keen for me to finally get to the Empire Strikes Back? Let me know in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:

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Top Five: Star Wars Characters

Loved for more than just its epic sci-fi, tense drama and great score, one of the best parts of the Star Wars films – and my favourite part – is the huge collection of different characters that have made their impact on the stories and touched the hearts of viewers. From witty good guys to classic baddies, everyone has their favourites, whether they’re from the original trilogy, the prequels or even the latest episode – and I wrote a list about mine! Though I’m sure Rogue One will give us some awesome characters, here for you (and to make up for my lack of Star Wars review today – I’m sorry! But this still counts for Star Wars Week) is my Top Five Favourite Star Wars characters:

1. Princess/General Leia (A.K.A. The Most Kickass)


She’s an orphan, a sister, a princess, a rebel, and now a general: not only has Leia done it all, but she’s an incredible leader and a kind friend. Where Luke is often whiny like his father, Leia definitely takes after her mother; she’s such a strong person in the face of duty, even watching her home planet and family blown up by the First Death Star, and has never been tempted by the Dark Side once. She’s an awesome role model, given such great personality by Carrie Fisher, and she’s one of the strongest characters in the universe.

2. Obi-Wan Kenobi (A.K.A. The Most Loyal)


Even from his appearance in A New Hope, you could just tell that Obi-Wan has got a story worth telling, and the prequels are made worthwhile just for his character. A skilled Jedi with a big heart, Obi-Wan is kind and composed, but also instinctive and emotional, his compassion for protecting people going beyond his sense of duty. His mentor relationship with Luke is brought into greater light when you consider his friendship with Anakin, and his relationship with the Skywalkers is heartbreaking and heartwarming, but Obi-San remains loyal the entire time. Alec Guinness’ brief portrayal made a lasting impression, but it is Ewan McGregor who brought the character to the forefront, making him one of my all time favourite characters.

3. Kylo Ren (A.K.A. The Most Villainous)


Kylo Ren is, in my opinion, the strongest villain in the Star Wars franchise. Darth Vader may trump him from iconicness, but Kylo not only comes from one of the greatest power couples of all time, but also some of the greatest good guys of all time. What made him really turn bad? Was it Luke, or a grandfatherly pull to the Dark Side? Why does he harbour so much anger? The drama and sadness he causes everyone around him in The Force Awakens is enough to foreshadow a great backstory and arc to come., and his fighting style is super badass (that chest-pounding blood but in the finale? AMAZING). Even if the inevitable answers to this question aren’t satisfying enough, Adam Driver’s smoky, cool-rage fuelled performance of Kylo is possibly the greatest performance in a Star Wars movie to date, AND his lightsaber and mask are the coolest. I have no (very little) doubt that he will be the greatest villain of the series.

4. Padme Amidala (A.K.A. Please Hear Me Out)


Natalie Portman may have been young, the movies might not have been great, and the Revenge of the Sith didn’t give her a great storyline, but Padme is one of my favourite characters from the series. Having grown up during the release of the prequel trilogy, Padme was the character that I looked up to: she was a Queen, and a Senator, was just as powerful as Anakin through her politics and had a very commanding presence. She also looked extremely cool while doing it, in some beautifully elaborate costumes, and even died for her true love. She was my role model during my childhood, and she’ll always have a special place in my heart.

5. Rey (A.K.A. My Current Role Model)


My heart sings at the fact that the heart of the next trilogy of Star Wars movies is an intelligent, strong woman. As a skilled scavenger and pilot and homegrown warrior, Rey is stronger than she knows – she survives on a dangerous, corrupt planet, living there only in the hope of the return of her family – her guilt for leaving is incredible, but she survives it, because she knows she’s needed. She manages to fly the Millennium Falcon, and even survives a battle with Kylo Ren – to those who those who call her a Mary Jane (A.K.A. a character who is good at everything for no reason and doesn’t struggle), she’s certainly not perfect at everything, and she’s struggled plenty on Jakku – just like Luke in A New Hope. And if rumour is right, we’ll only see her struggle more as she learns the ways of the Force from an embattled Luke. She has my heart already, and I still can’t wait to see more of her in Episode VIII.

Who are your favourite characters? Let me know and we can fight it out in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:

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Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

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Day 3 everybody! The finale to the prequel trilogy, the one where everything happens, is finally here!

Through the first two prequels, the events that lead directly into A New Hope are few and far between. We meet Uncle Owen for the first time (a gorgeous young Joel Edgerton, I might add); Anakin is the first Skywalker to lose a hand; we first see the true power of Yoda, from whom Luke learns to become such a powerful Jedi, and there’s even a little Jabba the Hut cameo. Other than that, it’s all leading up to the big stuff. How did Padme die? How did Anakin turn? How did Obi-Wan and Yoda end up on Tatooine and Dagobah? Well folks, this is where it all begins. At the end.

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Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith sees the Clone Wars escalate, and as Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) hunts for a key General from the Separatists to end the war, a “shocking” revelation from Padme (Natalie Portman) drives Anakin (Hayden Christensen) to seek help from the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who grows more powerful each day.

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Episode III is definitely the strongest of the prequels, both in story and impact – the usual politics between the separatists and the Republic are once again at play, but this is where they actually work. The formal negotiations behind us, Revenge of the Sith is full of backstabbing and double agents, as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine schemes and kills his way into absolute power to form the Empire that we all know and hate. From the opening it feels like a real Star Wars film – it’s enjoyable, full of action and fun humour, and tense lightsaber battles that showcase the power of our Jedi. The plot is more focused, and Anakin is more likeable within it, with his relationship with Padme more palpable and sweet than the last film, as is his brotherhood with Obi-Wan. But the doom of Anakin’s impending betrayal constantly looming, never giving us ease.

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However, the emotional turns of the story that mark Anakin’s descent – his pledge to the Dark Side, his loss of Padme, his betrayal of Obi-Wan – lack any emotional reaction from Anakin, whether it’s regret or dark hatred, mainly because of a lacklustre performance from Christensen. This removes a lot of the depth and tragedy from many of the films’ pivotal scenes, as his actions are unsympathetic. We see no strong motivations for him to do the things he does, and because of that there’s no redemption. Even Padme’s character is diminished, her pregnancy leaving her incapable of performing her Senatorial duties (we see her in the Senate once), and this disappointingly strips away the enormous strength of a heroine we know far better.

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But as the film goes on, it becomes clearer that the series is not just about Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side or his journey to becoming Darth Vader – it was just as much Obi-Wan’s story, the story of their brotherhood, which makes the film even sadder. His refusal to believe in Anakin’s transgression of the Jedi Code by committing murder, his apology to Anakin at the climax for failing him, gives the film at least half of the emotional punch it deserves, and their final duel is bittersweet, as they try to outdo and even kill each other, the ultimate fate of their once close bond. Ewan McGregor gives a brilliant performance, and even manages to elevate Christensen’s bumpy outing.

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Even Yoda’s ending is sad – his defeat by Palpatine is harsh and painful to watch, particularly as Palpatine is quite goofy throughout the film, not helped by his newly grey, soggy marshmallow face. And despite how cool General Grievous is, lightsaber collection and all, his CGI rendering makes him look like a video game character, hard to take seriously.

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It’s certainly not the ending we all deserved from the prequel trilogy. Our villains were not always the most imposing of folks, and our heroes weren’t always the most likable, or even heroic. But from it, we got a tragic love story (that mostly worked), some of the series’ best lightsaber battles, and one hell of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Revenge of the Sith is a thrilling closure to the prequel trilogy, and, at very least, it makes you excited to watch A New Hope once more. I know I am.

7/10.

What are your thoughts on Revenge of the Sith? Or the prequels in general? Let me know in the comments below!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0121766/mediaviewer/rm337165056
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0121766/mediaviewer/rm404273920
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0121766/mediaviewer/rm253278976
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