REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI

CAST
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Billy Dee Williams (Batman)
Alec Guinness (Doctor Zhivago)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
David Prowse (Comic Book: The Movie)
Frank Oz (Inside Out)
Jeremy Bulloch (Swing Kids)
Sebastian Shaw (The Spy In Black)
Ian McDiarmid (Sleepy Hollow)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Warwick Davis (Willow)
Luke Skywalker initiates a plan to rescue Han Solo from the crime lord Jabba the Hutt with the help of Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Leia infiltrates Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, disguised as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca as her prisoner. Lando is already there, disguised as a guard. Leia releases Han from the carbonite, but she is captured and enslaved. Luke arrives soon afterward but, after a tense standoff with Jabba and a battle with his rancor, is captured. Jabba sentences him and Han to death, planning to feed them to the Sarlacc, a pit monster. They are taken to the Great Pit of Carkoon, the Sarlacc’s nesting ground. Luke, with R2-D2’s help, frees himself and battles Jabba’s guards with his new constructed lightsaber. During the chaos, Boba Fett attempts to attack Luke, but Han, temporarily blinded from the carbonite, inadvertently knocks him into the Sarlacc pit to his doom. Meanwhile, Leia strangles Jabba, and Luke destroys Jabba’s sail barge as the group escapes. While the others rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance, Luke returns to Dagobah, where he finds that Yoda is on his deathbed. Before he dies, Yoda confirms that Darth Vader, once known as Anakin Skywalker, is Luke’s father, and that “there is another”. The ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi confirms that this “other” is Luke’s twin sister: Leia. Obi-Wan tells Luke that he must fight Vader again to defeat the Empire. Obi-Wan also warns Luke to keep his emotions in check, as his anger could lead him to the Dark Side.
The Rebels learns that the Empire has been constructing a second Death Star under the direct supervision of the Emperor himself. As the station is protected by an energy shield, Han leads a strike team to destroy the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor; doing so would allow a squadron of starfighters to destroy the Death Star. The strike team, accompanied by Luke and Leia, travels to Endor in a stolen Imperial shuttle. On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a tribe of Ewoks and, after an initial conflict, gain their trust. Later, Luke tells Leia that she is his sister, Vader is their father, and he must go and confront him. Luke surrenders to Imperial troops and is taken to Vader. Luke tries to convince Vader to turn from the dark side of the Force, but fails.
Vader takes Luke to the new Death Star to meet the Emperor, who is intent on turning him to the dark side. The Emperor reveals that the Death Star is fully operational and the Rebel fleet will fall into a trap. On Endor, Han’s strike team is captured by Imperial forces, but a surprise counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to battle the Imperials. Meanwhile, Lando, piloting the Millennium Falcon, leads the Rebel fleet to the Death Star, only to find that the station’s shield is still active and the Imperial fleet is waiting for them. The Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger and join him. Luke engages Vader in a lightsaber duel. Vader senses that Luke has a sister and suggests turning her to the dark side. Enraged, Luke overpowers Vader and severs his father’s prosthetic right hand. Upon seeing the remnants of Vader’s prosthetic, he sees a parallel between himself and Vader, and fears he will become like Vader. The Emperor tells Luke to kill Vader and take his place, but Luke refuses, declaring himself a Jedi as his father had been. On Endor, the strike team defeats the Imperial forces and destroys the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch their assault on the Death Star. Simultaneously, the Emperor tortures Luke with Force lightning. Unwilling to let his son die, Vader kills the Emperor, but is mortally wounded in the process. He asks Luke to remove his mask, and after a brief talk, he dies peacefully, having redeemed himself.
As the battle between the Imperial and Alliance fleets continues, Lando leads a group of Rebel ships into the Death Star’s core and destroys the main reactor. As Luke escapes on a shuttle with his father’s body, the Falcon flies out of the Death Star as the station explodes. On Endor, Leia reveals to Han that Luke is her brother, and they kiss. Luke returns to Endor and cremates his father’s body on a funeral pyre. As the Rebels celebrate their victory over the Empire, Luke smiles as he sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the redeemed Anakin watching over them.
This is the best of the series & not just because of the victory over the Empire. It springs a surprise in Luke having a sister, & completes Luke confronting what is left of his father. It destroys an empire & an emperor. It introduces Ewoks & then has them join in an alliance to create the victory. It even makes C3PO a God, & you can’t top that.
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REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH

 

CAST
Hayeden Christensen (Awake)
Natalie Porton (No Strings Attached)
Ewen McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Ian McDiarmid (Margaret)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
Jimmy Smits (Cane)
Frank Oz (Sesame Street)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (Game of thrones)
Ahmed Best (Poolboy)
Jay Laga’ala (Xena)
Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2)
Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors)
Oliver Ford Davies (Johnny English)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Rena Owen (The Last Witch HUnter)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the best Star Wars movie in the prequel trilogy, hands down.

Objectively speaking, Revenge of the Sith’s greatest contribution to the Star Wars family is first and foremost the massive improvement of the quality of the visual effects. This film was released in 2005, and yet even today I have absolutely zero issues with any of the special effects, even in blu-ray format. They look stunning, detailed and realistic to the point of complete satisfaction. I think pretty much everyone can agree on this at least.

To me, Revenge of the Sith was a jaw dropping sci-fi movie from start till finish. I don’t remember any other science fiction film having action of this magnitude and scale going on in the history of film making. We are treated to probably the largest space battle ever shown in cinema when the film opens. This entire sequence, from Anakin and Obi-Wan fighting their way through the thick of battle to Count Dooku’s flagship all the way to them landing the damaged space ship on Coruscant, takes over half an hour and you’re completely engaged throughout.

The film then quietens down to politics and Anakin spending time with his wife Padme. Again, I never felt bored or checked my watch during these sequences as I felt they added much to the story, which is ultimately about Anakin’s fall. Now, a person who just watched this film might say Palpatine barely did anything to make Anakin turn to the Dark Side of the Force, and therefore all of this is a big disappointment. However, Anakin’s fall makes far more sense if you have recently watched The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Things that step by step shake his faith in the Jedi order are all strewn across these two films, which then culminate in the third. The initial rejection of the Jedi council to train young Anakin, the death of his mentor Qui-Gon, his romantic feelings for Padme despite his oaths of celibacy and detachment as Jedi, the lack of trust he gets from Mace Windu, Yoda and even Obi-Wan at times, the death of his mother Shmi and the visions that foretell the death of Padme in childbirth all contribute to him feeling confused, lonely and isolated – vulnerable for one particular Sith, who after all, had managed to not only fool the entire galactic senate, but also the Jedi order itself about being a good natured and harmless Chancellor. To blame troubled Anakin for buying into the deception of Palpatine, who had pretty much managed to deceive everyone else so far, would indeed be unfair.

The rest of the film is top notch. We are taken to many stunning locations that serve as backdrops for large scale battles, and General Grievous does a far better job of being an interesting antagonist than the stoic and almost vampiric Count Dooku did in Episode II. The film builds up in tension until it treats us to the greatest light saber duel in the entire series, bar none. Amazingly filmed by Steven Spielberg, who George Lucas allowed to be in charge of this part of the movie. The hellish landscape of Mustafar is a fitting place for such a titanic clash between Anakin and Obi-Wan, one that we had been waiting for so long and, I believe satisfied us all. The final portion of the film is spent tying up loose ends in the same fashion that the final section of Return of the King did – many short, disjointed scenes taking place in different locations, but necessary to complete the overarching narrative. There are some deleted scenes which I think could have been added to give this film the finishing touches it needed, but overall I am still very happy about the quality, presentation and entertainment Revenge of the Sith offers from start till finish.

Of course the end will leave a sour taste in your mouth since it isn’t a happy ending, but that was the whole point of the prequel trilogy, wasnt it – to explain how Darth Vader became Darth Vader and what led to the fall of the Republic and the creation of the totalitarian Galactic Empire. If you’re like me and watch the films in the order I to VI, you can sit back with satisfaction and anticipation after the conclusion of III, because the story will go on and we’re just getting started!

 

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES

CAST

Hayeden Christensen (Awake)
Natalie Porton (No Strings Attached)
Ewen McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
Frank Oz (Sesame Street)
Ian McDiarmid (Margaret)
Pernilla August (Search)
Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors)
Jimmy Smits (Cane)
Jack Thompson (Around The Block)
Ahmed Best (Poolboy)
Rose Byrne (The Voices)
Oliver Ford Davies (Johnny English)
Jay Laga’ala (Xena)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Rena Owen (The Last Witch HUnter)
Marton Csokas (Aeon Flux)

Photo- Lucasfilm

Ten years after the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo, the Galactic Republic is threatened by a Separatist movement organized by former Jedi Master Count Dooku. Senator Padmé Amidala comes to Coruscant to vote on a plan to create an army of the Republic to assist the Jedi against this threat. Narrowly avoiding an assassination attempt upon arrival, she is placed under the protection of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker. The two Jedi thwart another attempt on her life and subdue the assassin, Zam Wesell, a shape-shifter who is killed by her bounty hunter client with a toxic dart before she can reveal his identity. The Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan to identify and capture the bounty hunter, while Anakin is assigned to escort Padmé back to Naboo, where the two fall in love.
Photo- Lucasfilm
Obi-Wan’s investigation leads him to the remote ocean planet Kamino, where he discovers an army of clones is being produced for the Republic, with bounty hunter Jango Fett serving as their genetic template. Obi-Wan deduces Jango to be the bounty hunter he is seeking, and follows him and his clone son Boba to the desert planet Geonosis via a homing beacon placed on their ship, the Slave I. Meanwhile, Anakin becomes troubled by premonitions of his mother Shmi in pain, and travels to Tatooine with Padmé to save her. They meet Owen Lars, Anakin’s stepbrother who is the son of Shmi’s new husband Cliegg Lars. Cliegg tells Anakin that Shmi was abducted by Tusken Raiders weeks earlier and is most likely dead. Determined to find her, Anakin ventures out and finds the Tusken campsite. He discovers too late that his mother has been tortured by the tribe. As she dies from her wounds, Shmi reunites with Anakin. Anakin loses his temper and kills the Tuskens before returning to the Lars homestead with Shmi’s remains. After revealing his deed to Padmé, Anakin says that he wants to prevent death.
Photo- Lucasfilm
On Geonosis, Obi-Wan discovers a Separatist gathering led by Count Dooku, who Obi-Wan learns had authorized Padmé’s assassination and is developing a new battle droid army together with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray. Obi-Wan transmits his findings to Anakin to relay to the Jedi Council, but is captured mid-transmission. With knowledge of the droid army, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is voted emergency powers to send the clones into battle. Anakin and Padmé journey to Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan, but are also captured. The three are sentenced to death, but are eventually saved by a battalion of Jedi and clone troopers led by Mace Windu and Yoda; Jango is killed by Mace during the rescue. As the clone and droid armies battle, Obi-Wan and Anakin intercept Dooku and the three engage in a lightsaber battle. Dooku subdues Obi-Wan and Anakin, but then Yoda arrives and engages the Count in a duel. Finding he is unable to defeat Yoda, Dooku flees. Arriving at Coruscant, he delivers blueprints for a superweapon to his Sith master, Darth Sidious, who confirms that everything is going well and as planned. As the Jedi gravely acknowledge the beginning of the Clone Wars, Anakin is fitted with a robotic arm and secretly marries Padmé on Naboo, with C-3PO and R2-D2 as their witnesses.

Photo- Lucasfilm

Attack of the Clones is a very good entry in the series. Ewan McGregor is superb as Obi Wan who teams up with Anakin to protect the Queen. He also has his own sub plot as he hunts down Jango Fett on a mysterious planet and we get a nice back story involving one of the coolest characters ever in Star Wars, Boba Fett. The action scenes are superb and towards the end we are introduced to Coutn Dooku, Christopher Lee who gives a superb performance. Yoda appears and fights as you’ve never seen him before and Jar Jar Binks time on screen is very limited. This movie is one hell of an underrated ride.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Jake Lloyd (Jingle All The Way)
Ian McDiarmid (Margaret)
Pernilla August (Search)
Samuel J. Jakcson (Jackie Brown)
Oliver Ford Davies (Johnny English)
Hugh Quarshie (Highlander)
Ahmed Best (Poolboy)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Frank Oz (Sesame Street)
Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Ray Park (Heroes)
Warwick Davis (Willow)
Celia Imrie (Our Zoo)
Dominic West (300)
Keira Knightley (King Arthur)
Peter Seafinowicz (Spy)
Richard Armitage (The Hobbit)

Supreme Chancellor Valorum, leader of the Galactic Republic, dispatches Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate with the Trade Federation leadership to end a blockade of battleships around the planet Naboo. Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord and the Trade Federation’s secret adviser, orders Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray to kill the Jedi and invade Naboo with an army of battle droids. The Jedi flee to Naboo, where Qui-Gon saves Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks from being killed during the invasion. Indebted to the Jedi, Jar Jar leads them to an underwater Gungan city. The Jedi try but fail to persuade the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, into helping the people of Naboo, though they are able to obtain transportation to Theed, the capital city on the surface. They rescue Queen Amidala, the ruler of the Naboo people, and escape the planet on her royal starship, which is damaged as they pass the Federation blockade.

Amidala’s ship is unable to sustain its hyperdrive and lands for repairs on the desert planet Tatooine. Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, astromech droid R2-D2, and Amidala (in disguise as a handmaiden) visit the settlement of Mos Espa to buy new parts at a junk shop. There they meet the shop’s owner Watto and his nine-year-old slave Anakin Skywalker, who is a gifted pilot and engineer, and has created a protocol droid called C-3PO. Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force within Anakin and is convinced that he is the “chosen one” of Jedi prophecy who will bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon wagers Anakin’s freedom with Watto in a Podrace, which Anakin wins. Anakin joins the group to be trained as a Jedi, leaving his mother Shmi behind. En route to their repaired starship, Qui-Gon enters a brief lightsaber duel with Darth Maul, Darth Sidious’ Sith apprentice who was sent to capture Amidala.

The Jedi escort Amidala to the Republic capital planet Coruscant so she can plead her people’s case to Chancellor Valorum in the Galactic Senate. Qui-Gon asks the Jedi Council to train Anakin as a Jedi, but the Council are concerned that Anakin is vulnerable to the dark side of the Force and decline. Undaunted, Qui-Gon vows to train Anakin himself. Meanwhile, Naboo senator Palpatine persuades Amidala to make a vote of no confidence in Valorum to elect a more capable chancellor to resolve the crisis on Naboo. Though she pushes for the vote, Amidala grows frustrated with the corruption in the Senate and decides to return to Naboo with the Jedi.

On Naboo, Padmé reveals herself to the Gungans as Queen Amidala and persuades them into an alliance against the Trade Federation. Jar Jar leads his people in a battle against the droid army while Padmé leads the hunt for Gunray in Theed. In a starship hangar, Anakin enters a vacant starfighter and inadvertently triggers its autopilot, joining the battle against the Federation droid control ship in space. Anakin ventures into the ship and destroys it from within, deactivating the droid army. Meanwhile, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan battle Darth Maul, who mortally wounds Qui-Gon before being bisected by Obi-Wan. As he dies, Qui-Gon asks Obi-Wan to train Anakin. Subsequently, Palpatine is elected as the new Supreme Chancellor and Gunray is arrested. The Jedi Council promotes Obi-Wan to Jedi knighthood and reluctantly accepts Anakin as Obi-Wan’s apprentice. At a festive ceremony, Padmé presents a gift of appreciation and friendship to the Gungans.I always felt it grossly unfair that many Star Wars fans are quick to denounce The Phantom Menace as the worst Star Wars film in the entire saga. I suppose in a certain aspect they are right: in every set of slightly different things, there statistically always has to be a best and a worst one. However “worst” doesn’t necessarily mean terrible. Each Star Wars film is still above and beyond in terms of budget, quality and entertainment, most other sci-fi films out there.  I can summarize that The Phantom Menace serves as a solid opener to one of the greatest sci-fi film series ever made, and does a good job setting the scene and introducing the characters who we’ll be spending a lot of time with and watching them develop over the coming films, while at the same time also serving as a workable and enjoyable film in its own right.

REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)

CAST

Johnny Depp (From Hell)
Christina Ricci (Monster)
Miranda Richardson (The Hours)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Richard Griffiths (Venus)
Ian McDiarmid (Star wars)
Michael Gough (Batman)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Lisa Marie (Ed Wood)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Peter Guinness (Alien 3)
Martin Landau (9)

In 1799, New York City police constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is facing imprisonment for going against traditional methods and favoring forensic investigation techniques, such as autopsies, considered unorthodox and unimportant at the time. Ichabod submits to deployment with his bag of tools to the Westchester County hamlet of Sleepy Hollow, New York, which has been plagued by a series of brutal slayings in which the victims have been found decapitated: Peter Van Garrett (Martin Landau), a wealthy farmer and landowner; his son Dirk; and the widow Emily Winship. Arriving in Sleepy Hollow, Crane is informed by the town’s elders that the killer is not of flesh and blood, but rather an undead headless Hessian mercenary from the American Revolutionary War who rides at night on a massive black steed in search of his missing head.

Crane begins his investigation, remaining highly skeptical about the supernatural elements in the case until he actually encounters the Headless Horseman himself, who kills the town magistrate, Samuel Phillipse (Richard Griffiths), on sight. Boarding in a room at the home of the town’s richest family and the Van Garretts’ next of kin, the Van Tassels, Crane develops an attraction to their daughter Katrina (Christina Ricci), while he is plagued by nightmares of his mother’s horrific torture when he was a child. This attraction is deeply resented by Brom van Brunt (Casper Van Dien), a suitor to Katrina, who scares Crane in a prank by posing as the Headless Horseman. Riding into the Western Woods with the orphaned Young Masbath, son of the Horseman’s fifth victim Johnathan Masbath(before Magistrate Phillipse), Crane and Young Masbath come across the cave dwelling of a reclusive sorceress. She reveals the location of the gnarled Tree of the Dead, which marks the Horseman’s grave, as well as his portal into the natural world from the supernatural.

Crane discovers that the ground is freshly disturbed and, digging through, discovers the Horseman’s skeleton and that the skull is missing. He realizes that whoever dug up and stole the skull is the person controlling the Horseman. Just then, the Horseman’s ghost bursts out of the tree and gallops towards Sleepy Hollow. Crane attempts to follow but winds up lost. The Killian family are taken by the Horseman and Brom is killed — cut in half — when trying to stop the Horseman.

Crane starts to believe that a conspiracy links all the deaths together, so he goes to the town notary James Hardenbrook (Michael Gough) to look into Van Garrett’s Last Will. Hardenbrook confesses Van Garrett had made a new will just before he died, leaving all his possessions to his new bride, Emily Winship, who Crane had learned from the late Magistrate Phillipse was pregnant at the time of her death (and thought that initially the father of the child might have killed Emily to keep the secret hidden). Crane deduces that all who knew about the new will were the victims of Horseman and that Katrina’s father Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon), who would have inherited the fortune, is the person holding the skull. Katrina, finding out that Crane suspects her father, burns the evidence that Crane has accumulated and tells him that she doesn’t love him anymore.
In fear of the Horseman, Hardenbrook hangs himself and a town council is held in the town church. The Horseman seemingly kills Katrina’s stepmother, Lady Van Tassel, and heads off to the church to get Baltus, with the townspeople filing in just as the he arrives. With the men firing muskets as he circles the church, Crane realizes the Horseman can’t enter the church grounds due to it being consecrated and therefore holy. A massive fight breaks out in the church when Dr. Thomas Lancaster (Ian McDiarmid) suggests confessing for forgiveness, and is killed by Reverend Steenwyck (Jeffrey Jones), who is in turn shot by a frightened Baltus. The chaos ends only when the Horseman harpoons Baltus through a church window using a pointed church fence post attached to a rope, dragging him out and acquiring his head. The next day, Crane believes Katrina to be one who controls the Headless Horsemen and left while she was still unconscious.
As Crane is leaving Sleepy Hollow, he becomes suspicious when the hand of the corpse of Lady Van Tassel has a wound which shows signs of having been caused post-mortem. His suspicions are confirmed to be right when the real Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson) emerges, alive, from the dark and shocks her step-daughter Katrina into a faint. Katrina awakens and eventually uncovers a plot revolving around revenge on the Van Garretts and land rights with the Horseman controlled by Lady Van Tassel, who sends the supernatural killer after Katrina now to solidify her hold on what she considers her property, a piece of land unjustly claimed by Baltus. She explains that the body believed to be her corpse actually belonged to the family’s servant, Sarah, whom she had murdered. She also reveals that she had just murdered the mysterious witch in the Western Woods, her own sister, for her role in helping Crane and Young Masbath.

Following a fight in the local windmill and a stagecoach chase through the woods, Crane eventually thwarts Lady Van Tassel by throwing the skull to the Horseman, breaking the curse. The Horseman, no longer under Lady Van Tassel’s control, simultaneously kisses and bites her, and he hoists her up on his horse, then rides to Hell taking her with him, fulfilling her end of the deal with the Devil. With the Headless Horseman menace eradicated, Crane returns home to New York with Katrina and Young Masbath, just in time for the new century.A triumph of design; sets that are spooky down to the last detail, and a cast of well-written characters to populate this creepy little town. There’s a few little things about “Sleepy Hollow” that didn’t work, but for the most part, I found this to be a great film