Ridley Road: This PBS/Masterpiece program is based on the book of the same name by Jo Bloom. It tells the story of a young woman of Jewish descent in the 1960s who goes undercover to stop a Neo-Nazi group from destroying the UK.
There are two arguments when it comes to a prequel. One is that it allows a formerly minor character to get a little bit of time in the narrative spotlight. The other is that it is a cheap copout by the studio. Instead of giving voice to new stories, they are relying on a known (and perhaps too reliable) IP.
Andor premiered last Wednesday on DisneyPlus. In short, it is a prequel of a prequel. Five years before the events of A New Hope, it follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he becomes the rebel that we know him to be in Rogue One.
While getting on the bad side of bureaucrat Syril Karn (Kyler Soller), he joins the rebellions by way of Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) and Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona).
So far, the first three episodes have been released. The connective tissue between the boy he was and the man he has become is starting to come together in a way that feels right for the character.
My favorite character so far is Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw), Cassian’s adopted mother. She is not blind to what is happening and though she does not appear to have one, she has a spine made of steel.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
New episodes of Andor are released every Wednesday on DisneyPlus.
When we think of films or TV shows, we often think of the boldface names at the top of the credits: the director, the actors, the producers, the screenwriter(s), etc. For every name that is in large letters, there are many others whose work is important, but unknown by the audience.
Over the decades, ILM would not just become the pioneer for special effects. The company would also be behind the success of some of the biggest movies of our era, creating visual imagery that has caused multiple generations of fans to ask “how did they do that?”.
I enjoyed this documentary. It proves that determination, creativity, diligence, and coloring outside the box can change the world.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Light & Magic is available for streaming on Disneyplus.
While living under another name, Obi-Wan is keeping an eye on Anakin’s son, Luke Skywalker (Grant Feely). But Luke’s Uncle and guardian, Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) would prefer that his nephew remains in the dark. Meanwhile, on Alderaan, Princess Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) is kidnapped. Her parents turn to Obi-Wan to rescue their daughter.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is amazing. After watching both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, I thought nothing would top them. I was wrong. My eyes were glued to the screen the entire time. There were multiple easter eggs (if you know where to look), many mouth drops, and quite a few expletives. I am already hooked and ready for the rest of the series.
It would be easy to make another soulless sequel. But it is not. It is full of so much love and respect for the material that it radiates from the screen. McGregor is back in perfect form, with the obligatory changes since the last time we saw the character. He is starting to become the grizzled old man who has come to terms with what was and will never be again. But there is still a little bit of hope, just enough to inspire him to pick up the lightsaber one last time.
Do I recommend it? 100% yes. Don’t be surprised if the program makes the cut for “best of” lists in December.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is available for streaming on DisneyPlus. New episodes premiere on Friday.
When the first Star Wars movie, Episode 4: A New Hope premiered in 1977, there was just one prominent woman: Princess Leia (the late Carrie Fisher). Over the last 44 years, the Star Wars universe grew in ways that I guess was unexpected in the late 1970’s. That growth includes a group of female characters who are just as badass and important to the narrative as Leia was then and still is today.
In 2018, Amy Ratcliffe published Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy. This book tells the stories of a variety of female characters that are not always obvious to the fanbase. While some of the obvious names on the list other than Leia are Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), it contains what can only be described as a conclusive inventory of women within that world.
Ratcliffe leaves no stone unturned when it came to the women who are profiled in the book. Sith, Jedi, human, non-human, etc, are all given the spotlight. The artwork is beautiful and worth framing by itself.
*A New Hope will be referred to as ANH and Empire Strikes Back will be referred to as ESB.
Logically speaking, we know that a film (unless it is a documentary) is a work of fiction. It is the cumulative work of many who come together to create a final product that seems real. But a good film has a way of touching the audience in a way that lasts well beyond the final credits.
Thursday was the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The second of three films in the first Star Wars trilogy, it is widely ranked as one of the best films in the overall series. While it’s predecessor, A New Hope, is the simple story of how a farm boy, a princess and a pirate destroy an evil empire, ESB takes that basic concept and expands it tenfold.
From a writing perspective, ESB is everything one would want in a sequel. The characters have grown and are facing new challenges. The world that the story takes place in is wider. The stakes are higher as the Empire has rebounded and is eager to take back the ground that they lost in ANH.
From a fan perspective, there are two major narratives that will forever hold a place in my heart. I love the will they or won’t they between Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (the late Carrie Fisher). The tension between them is absolutely perfect. I think that it goes without saying that the exchange between Han and Leia just before he is frozen in Carbonite is simple, sexy and utterly romantic.
And then, there is the most jaw dropping revelation in film history. To this day, new fans watch this scene and their minds are still blown that Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) father is no other than Darth Vader.
Here is to the 40th anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back. May this film live on for another 40 years and beyond.
*-This review will be spoiler free. Loose lips sink star ships andanger fans who have not seen the film.
When Star Wars: A New Hope premiered in 1977, it appeared to be nothing more than a hokey space adventure aimed at a young audience. 42 years later, Star Wars has become part and parcel of our culture with millions of fans around the world.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker premiered this weekend. Picking up from where The Last Jediended in 2017, the members of the rebellion are licking their collective wounds and gearing up for battle once more. Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with the help of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher).
On a distant planet, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is connecting with the universe’s ultimate evil: the returned from the dead Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The Emperor has one goal: to finally destroy the rebellion once and for all.
While Leia maintains the rebellion from home base, Rey, Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) go on a journey to stop the First Order in its tracks.
The reviews of this film have been mixed. I don’t agree with them.
The only flaw that this movie had is that it could have been cut down by a few minutes. Other than that, this film is perfect. It was the perfect ending to the Star Wars saga. I loved the new characters, I loved the ending and the seamless way that Carrie Fisher’s scenes from The Force Awakens were integrated into this movie.
I absolutely recommend it.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is presently in theaters.
In 1977, Star Wars hit theaters and forever changed the way films are made. Since then, Lucasfilm has tried to replicate the success of the original film with a hit or miss success rate.
Solo: A Star Wars Story premiered in theaters yesterday. Set 10 years before Episode 4, the franchise’s space pirate/bad boy, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is the focus of the film. Han is an orphan who has survived on the streets for as long as he can remember. He is cocky, full of it and has piloting skills that has saved his behind more than once. The only standard in his life is his relationship with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), his longtime girlfriend, who is arrested before they can escape from the authorities.
A few years later Han is working for Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a low-level member of the criminal underworld. While working for Beckett, Han meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and has an unexpected reunion with Qi’ra.
On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the prequels and 10 being the original trilogy, I would rate Solo: A Star Wars Story 6 1/2 t0 7. It’s a decent film, however, I wouldn’t call it the greatest of the Star Wars films. While the pacing and the action is to be expected for a Star Wars film, I just was not as impressed with this movie as I was with Rogue One.
Alden Ehrenreich will be stepping into the very large shoes that Harrison Ford first made famous 41 years ago when Han Solo was introduced to audiences. Taking place 10 years before A New Hope, Han is still Han. Brash, cocky and still hell of a pilot, he gets entangled in the criminal underworld and goes on a journey that will lead him to the rebellion. His journey to the rebellion is incomplete without Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).
As usual, Lucasfilm (and Disney by extension) gave fans just enough to get us excited without giving too much away. At this point, the film can go one of two ways. It can be like Rogue One and open the door to new characters/narratives within the Star Wars universe. Or, it can be like the prequels and basically suck.
Only time will tell. I can only hope and pray that the film lives up to the promises laid out in the trailer.