If Bail Organa Replaced the Gungans…

Y’all. My imagination goes wild sometimes. After getting some family feedback about the Fixing Jar Jar post, and my Aunt commenting that the idea of Bail Organa replacing the Gungans by sending his army from Alderaan to Tatooine sounded interesting, my mind hit full overdrive, and I immediately had to plan out what that would look like.

What does replacing the Gungans with Organa look like? Let me show you.

First Up – Goodbye Gungans. Jar Jar can stay as comic relief, but he only gets to help out in simple ways. He leads the Jedi immediately to Theed, using his underwater skills to get them into the city without being discovered by the droid army (making him actually useful in a realistic way).

The escape from Naboo, and all of Tattooine remains the same. But things start to really change when our heroes get to Coruscant. We meet Bail Organa along with Chancellor Vallorum and Senator Palpatine when they meet Amidala and the Jedi. Bail has perhaps had past dealings with the Trade Federation acting illegally, so he believes Amidala and supports her.

During the Senate meeting where Amidala is pleading her case, Bail Organa also moves his floating senate seat out to argue for Amidala and immediate action.
Amidala calls for a vote of no confidence in Vallorum like normal. But this time, instead of Chancellor Palpetine’s competition being Ainlee Teem of Malastare and Bail ANTILLES of Alderaan (Organa’s Senatorial predecessor), ORGANA is already the Senator, and now a challenger to Palpatine. Palpatine has the sympathy vote, being from Naboo. But Organa was also elected to the running because of his leadership and being the strongest voice calling the Senate to bring justice on the Trade Federation, who are known to overstep their bounds and have been making a mock of the laws of the Republic.

Amidala, again, decides that she cannot wait for the Senate to argue it out. Organa, wanting to help, convinces his wife (the Queen of Alderaan) to send their army to help. They participate in the diversionary battle, instead of the Gungans.

The Blockade would have to change some, to allow Alderaanian drop ships to get to Naboo. Instead of Blockade ships completely surrounding the planet stopping everyone from getting in and out, perhaps there are a few ships spread out, but mostly their ships are focused on protecting the command center ship (which needs to visually look different from all the other blockade ships) which controls the droid army (this would also give the Naboo pilots and Anakin a clue as to which ship they should focus their attack on. I’m not sure how they actually know which ship to try and attack).

Back on Alderaan, Palpatine is working hard to become Chancellor. We see closed door meetings with other Senators, convincing them to vote for him. He turns Bail’s willingness to help to his own advantage. He convinces other Senators that while Organa’s swift action is for a good cause, his unwillingness to wait for a SENATORIAL vote and SENATORIAL action prove that he would be a dangerous Chancellor. He makes the other Senators fear that Organa would be a threat to their power, that as their leader he would work to strip the Senate of its power and centralize power in the Chancellor seat. This adds a whole new layer of irony, considering this is EXACTLY what Palpatine does.

Ultimately, everything ends happy. Naboo is safe, and their own Senator has been elected chancellor. Naboo and Alderaan (and by extension Amidala and Organa) have formed a lasting bond of friendship.

Episode II – Just give Bail a few more lines, both to show that he and Padme have continued their friendship, and make him a little more overtly against the creation of a Republic Army (which is not hypocritical. He believes in the power of democracy and individual systems to act. He is strongly against centralized power, which would happen if there was an actual Army that belonged to the Republic, controlled by it’s leader).

Episode III – Include the scenes that were cut! There are already 3 or so great scenes of Organa, Padme, and Mon Mothma essentially forming the precursor to the Rebellion. They should have never been taken out, but in this version they need to go back in. And Bail does not adopt Leia simply because he and his wife just so happened to want to adopt a daughter. He adopts and raises Leia in order to honor his beloved friend Padme, just as Obi-Wan accompanies Luke to Tattoine to honor his former apprentice and friend.

What does this achieve, you ask? Let me tell you.

The Gungans are gone. Jar Jar is stomachable, because he is not responsible for the entirely of Naboo. That’s a huge win all by itself. But further than that Bail Organa steps up in a grand way. In the movies themselves, Bail Organa is a secondary character of necessity, since we already know he raises Leia. In the tv shows and Rogue One, he shows himself to be a key player in the Clone Wars and the Rebellion. But we are never quite as attached to him as we should be. With this version?

  • We now know why Organa is such a huge player in the Clone Wars and the Rebellion: He has been in the fight against the Federation/Seperatists/Sith/Empire back from the very beginning.
  • We now understand why Amidala and Organa are friends. He aided her people while she was Queen, and was her mentor when she joined the Senate.
  • We love and respect him all the more as Leia’s father.
  • We learn that Leia’s brashness and willingness to fight come maybe partially from Anakin, but they are also learned at the knee of the amazing man who raised her.
  • The Fall of the Republic becomes more gradual. After Episode I we are left to mourn the fact that the Senate chose Palpatine when they could have chosen Organa. It’s not just that they pick a Sith Lord, the most evil man in the galaxy to lead them. It’s that they don’t chose one of the best and most honorable men in the Senate.
    • Episode I – The Senate chooses evil to lead them instead of good
    • Episode II – The Senate gives the Chancellor emergency powers and an army, choosing war over negotiation and peace, which Amidala and Organa argue for.
    • Episode III – The Senate allows Palpatine to turn the Republic into the Empire.
    • (I personally like this added emphasis on what the Senate does, or chooses not to do. There are more factors at play than just the Jedi and Sith. Yes the Jedi are growing weaker. Yes Palpatine is friggin powerful. But Palpatine does not use force to get what he wants. He uses persuasion and coercion. Which means that ultimately, everyone around him allows him to control their lives.)
  • Bail Organa changes from being a vaguely important secondary character that is frequently used as a useful tool outside the movies, to being one of the strongest and most loved characters. And a character we can love who does not have The Force, but simply the will to create a good galaxy. 

Personally, in my not so humble opinion, I think this is brilliant. Sadly, Hollywood and Lucasfilm don’t ask my opinion. They don’t know what thy are missing  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

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Character Analysis: Jar Jar Binks

I know. The last thing anyone wants to read about is Jar Jar Binks. Except that one fan theory that went viral about how he is really a Sith Lord. While it is a compelling argument, and a true masterpiece of thought, I don’t accept it. Obviously I think my own opinions are better. Suppose that’s the nasty thing about opinions. Anyway.
Little does anyone know, my Minor in college was Editing, which does not just include grammar and style, but also fiction editing, and a good deal of what makes characters and story lines work, and what doesn’t. The thing is, Jar Jar truly could have been a FANTASTIC character. Or he could have been comic relief that actually worked, and didn’t make you want to gouge your eyes and ears out. Let me explain.

gungan warGeorge Lucas wanted comic relief. That’s perfectly fine and acceptable.
For the story he wanted to tell, he also needed a fierce warrior race from Naboo to go toe-to-toe with the Trade Federation army. Also perfectly fine and acceptable.
The problem lies in the fact that both roles are fulfilled through the bumbling Jar Jar and the equally ridiculous “warrior” race of the Gungans:

If Lucas wanted comedic relief outside of the droids it could have easily been Jar Jar with very few objections from anybody. He could easily have followed much of the same path: Qui-Gon, being a Jedi sworn to protect those who cannot protect themselves, saves Jar Jar from the droids. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon cannot shake him off because his gods demand he repays the life debt. Eliminate the Gungans altogether. The end of the story is resolved differently. Either it is a complete stealth mission with no army decoy (unlikely though. As the Star Wars stories developed they settled into each having at least one of each: Lightsaber Fight, Space Battle, and ground battle [originally skirmishes, but become full out war/army scenes]). Or they get an army from somewhere else. The Senate agrees to send some troops. Or they introduce Bail Organa earlier, and he decides to send his own personal army from Alderaan. Along the way, Jar Jar manages to contribute in some small but meaningful fashion. Perhaps in this version he has slicing skills. Or his ability to swim and hold his breath help them get into the palace somehow. Or he takes a blaster bolt for Qui-Gon. Anything really, that is equal to his skills that could discharge his life-debt to Qui-Gon, and perhaps make Amidala grateful enough to make him part of her retinue.
Believe it or not, most of us detractors would accept him in this capacity. It may be hard to believe, because we hate him so vehemently. But if the story were like the above, we never would have grown to hate him so. We’d either like, tolerate, or ignore him, as we do most comic relief in serious movies. This is essentially the same capacity that C-3PO and R2-D2 play in Episode IV. Comic Relief, but provide enough help WITHIN THEIR ABILITY to warrant them actually being there.

OR

Keep the Gungans, but as a truly and decidedly not ridiculous warrior race (maybe like Klingons). Make Jar Jar a great warrior who is shamed that he needed Qui-Gon to save him and is now sworn to repay the life debt to regain his honor among his people. He then leads the rest of his warrior race in a fierce battle against the Trade Federation, not just to help out the humans, but to defend their own land as well. He not only regains his honor, but becomes a hero of both the Gungans and the Naboo, because he forges a lasting peace between the two peoples who have always been at war.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think that would be friggin AWESOME.

If you noticed, both options are very close to the original. Either would work. The problem truly comes from forcing them together. It is simply poor storytelling to ask an audience to ascribe “ridiculous”, “bumbling”, “warrior”, and “hero” to a single character and race, and that is what we are asked to do in “The Phantom Menace”. The contrast is just too far-fetched, and rubs most people the wrong way. Hence the absolute LOATHING of the character.

EwokAs an aside, this is the EXACT reason why a lot of people do not like the Ewoks either. More people do like them than the Gungans simply because they are much cuddlier looking, and more people accept “Cute and Fierce” than “Bumbling and Fierce”. Though not everyone. Hence the sect that hates Ewoks as well.

If anyone has read my other posts, you’ll notice that this opinion appears to be in direct odds with my opinion present in my Character Analysis of Qui-Gon Jinn. In there I defend Jar Jar as a valid character, and one important to the overall story and to Qui-Gon’s decisions. This is because I have two mindsets when I approach discussing Star Wars, or any story, really:
1) Accept all characters and plotlines as valid, intentional, and purposeful, and discuss the story from within the scope of the story. This is what I have done for I think all of my posts so far.
2) Step outside the story itself, and evaluate validity of a character and plot and errors that the storytellers may have made in the creation such things.
I try very hard to keep these two mindsets separate. In this post, I can tear apart Jar Jar form an editor’s perspective, and say what went wrong with the creation of the character and what I would do different. However, if my focus is Qui-Gon, I cannot evaluate Qui-Gon while simultaneously asserting the Jar Jar should be different. I have to adopt the mindset that Jar Jar is how he is on purpose, and is canon that cannot and should not be changed. And if that is the case, I can then evaluate Qui-Gon’s actions towards Jar Jar.
JJBinks

Hopefully that was a little clearer than Tuna Booze Oil.

But what do you think? Would you accept Jar Jar if he was either of the options I presented?

 

Suicide Squad – When a Train Wreck is Still Amazing

I know just about everyone has seen Suicide Squad. Everyone has strong opinions on this movie. So I’m going to throw my opinion and review into the mix.

Synopsis:

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.

Excitement Level: Mixed. A part of me was ridiculously excited for this. I love a good anti-hero. Another part of me was super hesitant. I wanted interesting characters and a good story. I was worried that this would be DC’s answer to Deadpool. I know everyone is in love with Deadpool, but it really is not my cup of tea. I do not enjoy crude humor and don’t enjoy violent humor. I am typically ok with violence, so long as there is a point to it. Like in Mad Max. But I am not comfortable or ok with violence becoming a joke. When I found out it wasn’t rated R I decided to give it a chance (I actually wished they had rated it R, but for different reasons than I was worried it would be). I also looked up IMDB parental guide to decide if I would be comfortable watching it or not.

Train Wreck:

The plot is a disaster. Everyone knows this. Here are the two main problems:

1. The Enchantress and her brother are just way too big of villains for the Suicide Squad. Entities so destructive that they cause an entire city on the scale of a New York or Chicago to be evacuated ought to have drawn an actual hero to the scene, like Batman or Flash. I get that Superman is dead and the others tend to be city based, but seriously. This is a huge threat that real heroes would have been drawn in on.
I do get that taking out the Enchantress wasn’t the mission they were assigned. The mission they were assigned was saving Waller at all costs, which yeah, might not have drawn a big superhero. But they were pulled out of their cages before Waller knew that the Enchantress was out of her control. So…
But even if that was their sole purpose in being pulled from their cages, another hero should have been taking care of the Enchantress. So they shouldn’t have needed to “Save the World” as Harley dubbed it.

2. Another issue that we are all well aware of is Deadshot’s weird “Hey, let’s work together and kill Flag” to two minutes later “Harley, if he dies, we all die.”

Unfortunately, neither of these issues were resolved with the new footage from the Extended Cut. But I do have an idea of what they should have done. Obviously, they should have hired me to do editing. But here would be my plan:

Problem 1: They should have never had a villain so big to begin with. But short of re-writing the entire story, they should have cut the scenes so that the rest of the Suicide Squad was not pulled out of their cages and injected until AFTER the Enchantress plan blew up. Then add a few lines of dialogue making it clear that the Squad was NEVER intended to go after the Enchantress, ONLY rescue HBT 1. Could be instigated by one of the SEALS asking if they were being sent to end the “terror” threat (or one of the Squad members complaining about having to end a “terror” threat), to which Flag makes clear that they are going nowhere near the threat, they are JUST a rescue mission, and someone else would be sent for that, but it would take time. But a rescue team needed to be sent ASAP.
This does not completely fix the problem. Only a complete re-write would do that. But it would definately help.

Problem 2: Editing would fix a lot of the problems. However, that editing would also create balance issues. So give and take.
Deadshot needs a motive to change his stance on killing Flag.
The current order of events:

1. Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot to make a break for it and Slipknot gets his head blown off.
2. Flag threatens Deadshot
3. Deadshot hatches a plan to kill Flag
4. We see attempts at conspiring, and how not well they get along (Extended Footage)
5. Fight with the Enchantress’ army.
6. Flag gets dragged off, Harley is happy because Hey! Now they don’t even need to attack Flag themselves! Except Deadshot points out that if he dies, they all die.
7. Harley steals a purse
8. Flag makes a deal with Deadshot: He keeps the Squad in line, he gets his fresh start (Extended Footage)
9. Flag tells them HBT 1 is at the top of the building, Deadshot asks who they are rescuing, Flag tells him it is none of his business. (EF)
10. Harley has a flashback of trying to convince the Joker to love her (EF)
11. Harley starts psych analyzing, and pissing off, the rest of the Squad. Deadshot asks her to stop. She accuses him of being a rat.
12. Get to the building.

Tex’s Suggested (and Superior) Cut:

1. Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot to make a break for it and Slipknot gets his head blown off.
2. Flag threatens Deadshot
3. Deadshot hatches a plan to kill Flag. Add in a line about how they have to wait for the right moment.
4. Extended Footage: We see the attempts at conspiring, and how not well they get along.
7. Harley steals a purse
8. Flag makes a deal with Deadshot: He keeps the Squad in line, he gets his fresh start (Extended Footage)
5. Fight with the Enchantress’ army. 
6. Flag gets dragged off, Harley is happy because Hey! Now they don’t even need to attack Flag themselves! Except Deadshot points out that if he dies, they all die.
9. Flag tells them HBT 1 is at the top of the building, Deadshot asks who they are rescuing, Flag tells him it is none of his business. (EF)
10. Harley has a flashback of trying to convince the Joker to love her (EF)
11. Harley starts psych analyzing, and pissing off, the rest of the Squad. Deadshot asks her to stop. She accuses him of being a rat.
12. Get to the building.

Justification for Changes:

Moving Flag and Deadshot’s deal to before the first run in with Enchantress’ Army gives Deadshot a reason to want to defend him. It doesn’t make it perfect. There is still the slight fact that Deadshot didn’t think the bombs in their neck were a problem when he convinced them all to rise up. But at least it gives him a motive to change his mind about it. I would also advocate, among their plans, that a line gets added in that they will need to wait for the right moment. This is important to add in because it now extends the timeline, and it wouldn’t do for the audience to think the characters had forgot about their plan.
The only real problem with my cut would potentially be balance. In an action movie, there has to be a balance between high speed action and slower character development. This might skew that balance to not enough action at the beginning of this sequence, and too much action on the end. But wih the extended footage of Harley’s flashback added, I think it would balance alright. But it would probably not work without the extended footage.

THE CHARACTERS

Characters are the most important part of a movie, in my opinion. I would rather have fascinating characters than a perfect plot, which is why I saw this movie in theaters about 10 times, and bought the Extended Cut as soon as it came out.

Here is my take on the problems with the characters:

Katana – Least Favorite Character. She actually had NO PURPOSE in the movie. I WANTED her to be awesome. I am always on the lookout for girlpower chicks. But she is introduced as being Flag’s bodyguard. And never actually gets a chance to do so. Also, her beckstory stuff came off as annoying angsty, unfortunately.
… Come to think of it though… She would have had more importance, and the original cut would have made more sense… If Katana had been the one to remind Harley that if Flag dies, they all die. Then at least she would be defending Flag by proxy, and Deadshot wouldn’t have had the random change of heart.

Enchantress/Brother – There are a lot of problems with the two of them. They are waaaay too powerful. If she could create an army so easily, why did she need to wait to make her move? She could have created her army to overpower Waller. Also, it really bothers me that she turns people into monsters. She is a Succubus. She Enchants people. It seems to me that her kiss ought to inspire mind control, and people ;become a slave to her will, not physiological change (though I have a feeling that they did that to keep the rating PG-13. It is ok for the Squad to brutally decimate black monsters, not so much humans that bleed.)

Deadshot – Already addressed with his random back and forth of opinion.

Part II – The Amazing

Now that I’ve discussed (and tried to fix) problems, let me discuss what I thought was amazing about the movie.

Characters:

Dr. June Moone – While the Enchantress is a huge problem, I did like what little we saw of June… Which come to think of it was mostly out of her mind fear. She was rightfully terrified of the Enchantress. Most of her lines revolve around “I can’t do that again. Please, don’t make me do this”. She obviously is absolutely terrified, and terrified for herself. Yet she still has the strength to tell the love of her life that if it comes down to it, she is to be sacrificed to take down the Enchantress. True courage shows when we are afraid.

Captain Boomerang – I don’t know why I like him so much. Yet I do. I know his rap sheet says that he has a “fetish for pink unicorns”, like that is just some weird personality quirk. I smell backstory though. It’s gotta be a daughter’s or something similar. By itself it could be. But when Diablo was telling his story about killing his family, the crack in Boomerang’s voice when he asks “and the kids?” makes it sound like there is something personal in his life. I want to know.

Rick Flag  and Deadshot – Flag has a fascinating juxtaposition with Deadshot. Neither of these characters would have been much without each other. Deadshot is the obvious villain: “A serial killer who takes credit cards”. Flag is the obvious hero: “You need real soldiers not these scumbags.” AND YET. Perception of others, and oneself, is a tricky thing. You don’t go into a super-anti-hero movie expecting deep thought to come out of it. But there are important ideas to think about. The thing is, Flag sees himself as the hero and having the moral high ground. He is an American soldier fighting for his country. And looking at himself through that lens, he falls into the trap of believing the ends justify the means, not realizing that this ultimately destroys his moral high ground. He has no problem lying to Deadshot about giving him back has daughter and life. He feels he is in the right, and it’s not like Deadshot is a real person or anything, not like it really matters dangling this man’s daughter like a carrot. And Deadshot believes Flag! Flag doesn’t even stop to realize that only a man who keeps his word and has his own honor would dare believe another man on words alone. Flag definitely has to learn the important lesson that Integrity is blind. You can’t decide to use it when dealing with others you think have it, and turn it off when you think the person you deal with doesn’t matter. Well, I mean you could. But that means you don’t actually have any integrity at all.

Joker and Harley Quinn – Yup, so much is terrible about their relationship. It is abusive and horrible. AND YET. It is so fascinating to watch.

Bonus Thoughts: Jared Leto’s Joker – I know so many people hate him. I love him. I truly do. Is he better than Heath Ledger? No, he is different. AND THAT IS OK. While I don’t profess to read comics, I do know that, at least in video, the Joker is very different in each. And yet still the Joker. Leto’s is different than anything yet (though definite hints of others), and his acting was flawless. I don’t think it was overdone. In fact, I’m not entirely sure it is possible to overdo the Joker. A true crime would be under-doing him, and making him just a bad guy.
On another note, I think I have identified a key component in this Joker (if not Joker in general). I’m sure this is hardly new to comic book buffs. But it seems to me that (this Joker in general) is defined by zero impulse control. Joker is brilliant and powerful. He can put together flawless jobs. But if he randomly has the impulse to use a water gun instead of a real one, he can’t stop himself from doing it. Another man expresses interest in his girl he is curious to see how far that man will take it. If he gets offended the man says no (no matter for what reason), he can’t stop himself from punishing/killing that man. He devises a plan to get rid of the crazy chick obsessed with him. But there is a small part of him that regrets it and realizes he loves her (imma use that term loosely), he cannot stop himself from saving her. No impulse control. Fascinating.

IN CONCLUSION – There is so much that is wrong with this storyline. And yet I love this movie. Because the characters are so dang fascinating, and SO WELL ACTED. Oh, and an awesome soundtrack.

Rey Palpatine. Hear me out.

Here is the truth of it: I am a bit of a hypocrite in that I don’t read other people’s blogs and articles, especially when it comes to Star Wars theories. Pretty much the only one I’ve read is the “Jar Jar is a Sith Lord”, because come on. How could they possibly justify that (though there was some compelling proof). But I thought I would join the Rey debate because why not. However, since I don’t read theories, it is very possible that someone already came up with this exact thought. Ah well.

Rey is not a Skywalker

Originally, I thought for sure they would make Rey a Skywalker, simply because Star Wars is basically the Skywalker Family Drama. I never wanted her to be one; I will be horribly disappointed in the writers if she is. But I figured they would make her one. And that somehow, she and Kylo Ren had a past. Maybe he wiped her memories and dumped her on Jakku instead of slaughtering her because they are cousins. But I now believe there is enough proof pointing elsewhere, and against her being a Skywalker.

Luke was a man who could not bear the thought of facing and killing Vader, simply because Vader is his father. A father he never knew, who committed atrocities throughout the galaxy. A man who destroyed his own daughter’s planet. A man who tortured and killed Luke’s friends. But the family bond is strong. I think it unrealistic that Luke would abandon and wipe the memory of his own daughter. It just doesn’t seem to follow character.

The accent: I get that most people won’t buy this as proof, but I do. Rey has a core-world accent (British). I actually have no idea if it was an accident that Lucas had the Empire speak in British accents, and the Rebellion speak in American (for the most part). But the tradition followed, and more or less developed into Core Worlds = British,  Rim = American. Which is an important distinction, as Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Bail Organa, etc are all good guys, but they are at the center of the (political) galaxy: Coruscant, which THEN became the center for the Empire. Notice even Leia has a weird, half-british, half-american accent in episode IV. She was a Senator, after all.
Now, you might be saying Daisly Ridley is British, and therefore she will have a British Accent. Nothing suggestive about it. However. John Boyega is also British. And they had him fake an American Accent. But not Daisy. And everyone associated with the Skywalker family (Anakin, Luke, Leia, Han, Ben/Kylo Ren) all have Rim Accents.

Rey might be a Kenobi

Though I haven’t read any theory posts, it seems this is the fan favorite, and why not? Obi-Wan Kenobi, like the Skywalkers, had been present throughout the saga, and he is an amazing character. And surely he had a life while on Tatooine. But here is the proof that points to Rey Kenobi:

Rey’s Force vision – The fact that we here Obi-Wan’s voice twice, once saying her name, and once saying “These are your first steps”. However, Yoda’s voice can also be heard, and I highly doubt she is a Yoda.

Core Accent – Obi-Wan, like Rey, has a Core World Accent.

My Opinion: Rey is a Palpatine

Maybe this has already been argued. But this is my belief. Core-World accent backs it up. So does the soundtrack. Hear me out.

One day I was contemplating the Emperor’s theme (I contemplate Star Wars a lot), I was humming Emperor Palpatine’s theme to myself when I accidentally switched over to humming Rey’s theme. At first I LOL’d to myself. Then my jaw hit the ground.

I know that John Williams likes to reuse small sections of songs he likes. You can be listening to Star Wars and hear Harry Potter, or Jurassic Park and hear Star Wars. BUT.

Palptine’s theme has been PURPOSELY reused before. The victory celebration at the end of Episode One. After all, while the good guys took a win at the end of the Phantom Menace, Palpatine took an even bigger win. He was named Chancellor, and it was a purposeful decision to hide his theme in the end of Episode 1.

There are definite tones of Palpatine’s theme in Rey’s. Take a listen:
Palpatine’s Theme

Now listen to the choral parts of the victory celebration:
Episode 1 Victory Celebration

Now Rey’s theme:
Rey’s Theme

Also, her super strength in the Force.

And then there is the fact that her first light saber move, a two-handed thrust, is exactly the same as Palpatine’s when he takes out the Jedi come to arrest him. Star Wars definitely creates parallels all throughout the stories for a specific reason. I happen to think this is specifically there for a reason:

thrust-605153

I mean, yeah. Lightsaber moves are not hereditary. But neither are phrases. In Episode III Anakin says “You underestimate my power” and in Episode VI Luke says “Don’t underestimate my power”. In real life this is pure coincidence. In the Star Wars world, this is a purposeful parallel.

***EDIT 10/14/17***
So… The new trailer for Episode 8 just came out.  It is not wise to place too much trust in the Star Wars trailers. After all, the Episode VII trailer tried to make us think Finn was the force sensitive one. The Rogue One trailer was a total mess. I know I totally expected Jyn to ACTUALLY be an extremist (not just have past relations with them), and that she was going to be doing a deep cover mission by joining the Empire to learn about the Death Star. Which totally didn’t happen. And the majority of lines in the trailer never even made it into the movie.
HOWEVER…palpatinevertical_2517
The line that seems to have everyone excited is “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now”. I know it APPEARS that he is speaking about Kylo Ren. But again, trailers are misleading. What if he is referencing Emperor Palpatine? Luke most definitely underestimated the Emperor’s power.  And that same power might just flow through Rey’s veins. Maybe?
***EDIT***


In Conclusion: 

I really don’t think that Rey is a Skywalker. And imma be super disappointed if she is. Rey as a Kenobi is definitely acceptable. I want Rey to be a Palpatine. Snoke, on the other hand, is a completely new character.

You are going to hear a lot of bragging from me if I’m right. Just Sayin.

Do you agree? Am I crazy? What is your theory? Leave a comment!

The Dark Side and the Light: Arguing with Yoda

Yoda: Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.

Luke: Vader… Is the dark side stronger?

Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?

Yoda: You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack.

Truthfully, I’d say Yoda is only halfway right. The Dark Side IS stronger.

Here is the thing: The Light Side NEVER wins a single fight. Obviously Jedi win multiple fights. But never against a Dark Side user when wholly under the influence of the Light Side. Yoda is right when he says it is to be used for knowledge and defense (I feel I must note here that I am talking about physical confrontations. It is hard to analyze other aspects of the Force from the movies).

The best the light side can do is defend the Jedi into a stalemate.
Examples:
Episode 1: Qui-Gon Jinn vs Darth Maul – Round 1

qg-vs-dm

Another stalemate by virtue of Qui-Gon being able to jump to his rescue. It was a short fight, and Darth Maul was only using half of his lightsaber. Realistically, if Darth Maul was a master at the two-sided, he would probably be better at it than with one side. Yet the very short fight almost took down Qui-Gon, and left him winded.

Episode II: Count Dooku vs. Yoda

yoda-1

Another battle that ends in a draw. I suppose there will be those that argue that Yoda would have won if Count Dooku had not escaped. But if the Force is guiding both of their actions, it makes no difference. Yoda’s main objective would be to stop Count Dooku. Count Dooku’s main objective would be to escape with the Death Star plans. One strength of the Dark Side is that it is uninhibited. If the best way to achieve his objective is to drop energy cells on top of Anakin and Obi-Wan to distract Yoda he will and does do it without a blink of hesitation. Yoda could have allowed him to do it in order to stop Dooku. Yet the Light Side held him back. He could not sacrifice Obi-Wan and Anakin for a winning blow. The idea that the ends justify the means is a Dark Side idea, and if Yoda had allowed that sacrifice, he would have won, but it would not have been solely with the Light Side.

Episode IV: Darth Vader vs Obi-Wan Kenobi

vader-vs-obi

We typically call Obi-Wan the winner of this fight, merely because of his statement that: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” But I honestly don’t know I would call that a win. Obi-Wan had more powerful knowledge, but Vader’s dark side was stronger. I’d call this one a draw.

~~~

So that is it for the competitions ending in a draw. Now lets look at times the Dark Siders straight up win. Get ready for some of the most painful moments in the Star Wars Universe :}

Episode I: Qui-Gon Jinn vs. Darth Maul – Round 2

qg-v-m2

This is honestly the saddest moment in all of Star Wars for me. Qui-Gon is my favorite character (even have a whole blog post devoted entirely to his awesomeness). But in all honesty, his death is not surprising. Qui-Gon is the embodiment of the Light Side will of the Living Force. He may not hold to the code, but he is the perfect Jedi, and the perfect Jedi would be a Light Side user. In a physical confrontation, he has no hope of winning against a Sith.

Episode II: Obi-Wan and Anakin vs. Count Dooku

episode-2-anakin-and-obi-injured

Count Dooku might be my least favorite Sith… Ok, he’s probably my least favorite character period. Toss up between him and Grievous. But he destroyed the great Obi-Wan and Anakin. In the case of Obi-Wan, Dooku straight up beat him. Dark beats Light. In the case of Anakin, there are a lot of parallels with the Luke/Vader fight of 5 (ooh, I’m feeling a future post on parallels!). You can chalk it up to Anakin’s inexperience, or the strength of the Dark Side. But either way, Dooku has a resounding victory over these two Jedi.

Episode III: Anakin and Obi-Wan vs Dooku – Round 2

obi-vs-dooku

We’ll discuss the Anakin portion of this fight later. But just like in Episode II, Count Dooku destroys Obi-Wan. In record time, no less. Dark Side for the win.

Episode III: The Confrontation of Palpatine

palpatine-confrontation

I know a lot of people hate this scene. Somehow, in a matter of seconds, Palpatine manages to absolutely destroy a good handful of Jedi Masters like it is nothing. It is quick, I’ll give you that. But you have to realize just how powerful Palpatine really is. A Sith Master and an Apprentice are a match for the ENTIRE Jedi Order. Quite frankly, the Jedi Masters were not expecting it. I think they figured their sheer force of numbers would intimidate Palpatine, or that an old man they have known for decades would not brutally cut them down. But that proves just how little the light comprehends the dark. This scene may be too quick for some, but in the story itself it shows just how powerful the Dark Side really is.
Then we cut to the match between Palpatine and Mace Windu. Windu may think he is winning, but that just shows exactly how much power Palpatine has. He controlled that entire fight. In fact, I would be ready to argue that Palpatine would have kept that fight going indefinitely until Anakin showed up. And he only appeared to be losing to force Anakin to act.

Episode V: Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker

vader-luke

This is obviously a Dark Side win.  Darth Vader owned him from beginning to end of that fight. There is more to discuss about this scene, but it will come later.

Episode VII: Luke Skywalker vs. Emperor Palpatine

palpatine-luke

Luke: Never. I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.
Emperor: [angry] So be it… Jedi!
Emperor: If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!
[shoots Luke with Force lightning]
Emperor: Young fool… Only now, at the end, do you understand…
[the Emperor shoots at Luke with more Force lighting]
Emperor: Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side.
[shoots Luke with another burst of Force lighting]
Emperor: Now, you will pay the price for your lack of vision!
[shoots more Force lighting]

Light Side Luke wins, right? Well, on spiritual level I suppose. The Emperor does fail to turn Luke to the dark side. But the Emperor wasn’t wrong when he told Luke “Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side.” Even Yoda could only intermittently counter Palpatine’s dark side powers. Luke would have died a very painful death at the hands of Palpatine, if not for Vader, which I will discuss in a minute.

~~~

So the numbers we currently have are 6 Dark Side wins, and 3 Draws. But what about those instances where the Jedi win, you ask? Well, let’s list them. Obi-Wan beats Darth Maul, Anakin beats Count Dooku, Obi-Wan beats Anakin, Luke beats Darth Vader, Rey beats Kylo Ren. So, that is 5 Jedi wins, but I would not say that they are Light Side wins. Shall we take a look?

Episode I: Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Darth Maul

kenobivmaul

Tell me what you see on Obi-Wan’s face. Is the the calm, cool, serenity of the Light Side? No. That is the face of a man who has just lost his teacher, his mentor, and for all practical purposes, his father. That is a man feeling heartbreak and rage. Powerful emotions. Emotions that fuel the Dark Side. A good cause, yes. But this win came because the Dark Side gave Obi-Wan strength.

Episode III: Anakin Skywalker vs Count Dooku

dooku_scared_to_death

Is there anyone willing to argue that this was not a Dark Side win? Anakin has been working hard to control his emotions. He was made a Jedi Knight, so the masters must have thought that he had made enough progress in that respect. But Count Dooku had just taken out his master, mentor, father, brother. Not to mention, there is the revenge aspect. Dooku did take his arm. And Palpatine was sitting there practically feeding Anakin Dark Side energy.

Episode III: Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader

kenobi_mustafar

I know Obi-Wan Kenobi is considered the perfect Jedi. If Yoda was the Heart of the Jedi Council and Mace Windu was it’s Head, Obi-Wan Kenobi would be its Right Hand. Yet we have already seen Obi-Wan succumb to the Dark Side of the Force for a victory. He grew so much since then. But the loss of Anakin Skywalker would be at least as traumatizing as losing Qui-Gon, if not more so. Obi-Wan’s final words to Anakin are absolutely full of Heartbreak, Anger, and Despair. Things a Jedi should never feel.

Episode VI: Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader

lukevaderrotj7

Luke is all over the place in this battle. The true war is not Luke vs Vader or Palpatine. It is Luke vs. the Dark Side. Every time Luke attacks or gains the upper ground he is under the influence of the Dark Side. Even Luke knows that he cannot win without the Dark Side because when he is trying to be a good Jedi, he straight up refuses to fight. It takes the Emperor goading him about losing his friends, and Vader threatening Leia to break that resolve. He destroys Vader with the Dark Side, which is why he throws away his lightsaber as soon as he realizes what he is doing. He let the Light take back control, which opened the door for Palpatine to destroy him.

Episode VII: Kylo Ren vs Rey

rey-v-ren

Rey is still hard to figure out. One more year and we may get some insight. I’m not going to speculate on her origins here. And honestly, the force is so mixed up right now anyways. Kylo Ren is the reason I have had to switch from saying “Sith” to “Dark Side User” because I don’t think that he and Snoke are Sith. But I suppose we will find more out about that in future movies. What we do know is that Rey is strong in the Force. So is Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren takes the necessary steps to plunge himself into the Dark Side, to all our tears and laments. He is actually trained. He has been training since he was young. Yet Rey beats him. Granted, he took a freaking bowcaster bolt to the side. And he never wanted to actually kill Rey, just have her join him. But she beats him. She wants to kill him. She might have, if the planet hadn’t started breaking up. And what brought about this great strength and intense emotion? Loss. She lost Han. She might have lost Finn.

Have you sensed a pattern yet?

I hope you have stuck with me up to this point. I do have a flair for the dramatic. I tend to want to lay all the pieces out and then make my point. I am an English Teacher, and I can force my students to note down all the parts before the final piece is put into place, and watch the minds be blown. However, I cannot force anyone to actually read a blog post all the way to the end. If you have, here is my real argument:

In a battle between straight Light Side and straight Dark Side, the Dark will win. It is Stronger. The best the Light can hope for is escaping alive. But there is something that is more powerful than the straight Dark Side:

The balance between the two.
A typical Light-Sider/Jedi taking his first steps into the Dark is stronger than the Dark Side.

Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to Anger. Anger leads to Hate. Hate leads to Suffering.

When a Jedi takes those first steps they become incredibly powerful. But not fear for oneself. In fact, the Jedi would lose fear for oneself at a very early age. It is the fear and anger of loss. Did you notice that loss is a part of every Jedi Victory over a Dark Side user?

Obi-Wan lost Qui-Gon.
Anakin feared he had lost Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan lost Anakin and the Jedi Order.
Luke feared losing the Alliance and his Sister.
Rey lost Han and feared losing Finn.

Fear and Anger can be a Jedi’s ally. When a Jedi can balance the Dark Side and the Light they are incredibly powerful. Which does lead to a Bonus Round:

Episode VI: Darth Vader vs Emperor Palpatine

vader-palpatine

Luke’s struggle between the Dark and the Light were exactly what made him so powerful against Vader. However, when he decided to turn his back on the Dark, he made himself vulnerable to Palpatine’s immense Dark Side power. But the street goes two ways. Just as a Jedi is stronger taking his first steps into the Dark Side, so too would a Sith be stepping into the Light.
Granted there wasn’t much to this fight. It was mostly just Vader chucking Palpatine into one of the universe’s infinite number of bottomless pits. But if the Force not only obeys commands but controls actions, it is definitely in control here. Palpatine is far stronger in the Dark Side than Vader is. He took out most of the Jedi Council by himself. But the Force was strong with Vader. He was finally and completely fulfilling the prophecy after all.
And notice, it is once again fear of loss that is the driving force. Vader feared losing his son. Not just physically, but to the Dark Side. Vader took a step into the Light in his final moments.
So add another score to the balance.

Counter-Argument and Proof

I know the counter-argument right now. If this is so, why does Anakin lose to Count Dooku in Episode II and to Obi-Wan in Episode III? Why does Luke lose to Vader in Episode V?
Balance.
In both instances with Anakin, he was too far gone down the path to the Dark Side. In Episode II he had just given into his hate for the Sand People and slaughtered them. He turned that hate towards Dooku for the friends and family Dooku had taken from him. He was stronger in the Dark Side than he had ever been. But without the Light to give him strength he was not strong enough to beat Count Dooku.
Come Episode III, however, Anakin had actually learned to walk the Balance, which is why he could beat Dooku this time. Even Dooku commented “You have hate. You have anger. But you don’t use them.” Well Dooku, he still beat you. Because he walked that line. Killing you, however, tipped him over the edge. By the end of Episode III, Anakin had pledged himself to the Dark Side. He slaughtered everyone in the Jedi Temple. He hated the Jedi and Obi-Wan for every loss and every perceived insult to his power. Anakin was stronger in the Dark Side than he had ever been. But Obi-Wan walked the balance this time and won.
And back to Luke in Episode V. You can chalk his loss up to inexperience if you want. It does play a role and we could leave it at that. But also remember the theme throughout Episode V. Luke has been struggling with the Dark Side the entire movie. His impatience with Yoda, his failure with the ship, and his failure in the cave all portray Luke warring with his fear, which weakens his resolve in the Light and doesn’t give enough power in the Dark. But by the time he faces Vader, he does have the necessary fear and anger of loss – Han and Leia were the reason he came. But he stepped too far. He hated Vader. Vader was the reason his Aunt and Uncle were killed. Vader killed so many of his Rebel friends. And most importantly, Luke believed that Vader had killed his father. Like Anakin, Luke had fallen too far into the Dark Side and he just was not powerful enough.

Conclusion

So what does all this mean? What was the purpose of compiling a comprehensive list of Force-User Fights? Honestly not sure.
Except to say that Yoda is not completely accurate when he says the Dark Side isn’t Stronger, because in a fight, pure Dark Side beats pure Light Side. A Balance will beat both. Balance is an incredibly important concept in the Star Wars ethos, and I covered the prophecy of Balance pretty thoroughly. But Balance does not mean all Light as the Jedi are wont to believe. It is an actual Balance between the two.

Does that mean every Force User ought to walk the Balance? No. There are different paths. There are powers in the Force that can only be obtained through study of the Light or the Dark. No Force User can master every power and discover every secret. And truthfully, I do not believe that anyone who walks the balance could ever be at peace.

But in terms of Strength: Balance, then Dark, then Light. Sorry Yoda.

Alice: Throught the Looking Glass

Alice was… Ok.

Synopsis:

After slipping through a mirror, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself back in Underland with the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Her friends tell her that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is in a funk over the loss of his family. Hoping to save his loved ones, Alice steals the Chronosphere from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) to travel into the past. While there, she encounters the younger Hatter and the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).

Rating: PG For Fantasy Action/Peril and some language

Excitement Level: Moderate

First off, it has nothing to do with the actual book “Alice Throught the Looking Glass”. Alice just happens to get to Underland (Wonderland) through a mirror. I’m ok with that though. While I highly recommend reading the Lewis Carrol classics, they aren’t exactly Hollywood storyline material. So this is the storyline they came up with to fit the Hollywood story fits enough.
Of course, it is the continuation of the Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” that came out a few years ago. I only ever saw that one in theaters, but from what I remember, I like that one better than this one. But I honestly really only remember the characters from that movie, not the storyline. Knowing the characters was enough to pick up what was going on in this one, however.

It starts out a little bit confusing, mostly due to the previews.  In the previews, it shows Alice in an asylum. I mean, I had gotten the impression that that was the setting, and she escapes the Asylum to go to Wonderland. So when the movie starts out in a ship in the high seas, running from pirates. Words to the effect of “It’s Impossible! We should surrender to the Pirates” and Alice’s reply of “You know my feelings on that word!” And then they pull off the impossible kind of make it seem like this is some sort of mad dream or fantasy of Alice’s, hence she’s been put in an asylum.

It’s not. Apparently Alice is really the captain of a ship doing impossible things. So make sure you start out on the right foot.

Alice returns from her year long fantastical voyage to a mother who has been worried sick and a shipping company who was expecting her months ago. None of this phases her; she just wants to go out and sail again. But problems with this plan arise from old grievances, a world that cannot tolerate a strong, confidant young woman, and a mother who wants the best for her daughter, but the daughter and her do not agree on what is best.

These are all good themes, and stereotypes worth challenging. But instead of facing those problems in this world, Alice runs off to Underland, led by Absalom voiced by Alan Rickman (which was a little jolting and terribly sad. You will be missed, Alan).

Underland is facing the mirror problem: The Mad Hatter has gone sane and it is just about killing him. The rest of the inhabitants of Underland want the Mad Hatter back. But Hatter has become obsessed with finding his family who was killed by the Red Queen years ago. Which of course is impossible. Alice tells him so. And Hatter goes into a fury, saying that the real Alice, his true friend, would believe him and help him.

Enter Time Travel, and the rest of the movie. I’ll leave off on the plot right there (will talk more later, in a Spoiler section) and take a look at the other qualities of this film.

Acting: Of course the acting is great. It has a powerhouse of actors. I have absolutely no qualms about the acting. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, and really everyone else did a superb job,  just as they did in Alice in Wonderland. But there is someone new to this movie that deserves above and beyond recognition and notice:

Sacha Baron Cohen as Time Himeself. He might challenge Johnny Depp himself for the breadth and depth of the roles he plays. He is truly a gifted actor, and I REALLY WISH he would do some movies that I actually had any interested in seeing. In case you don’t know, he is most famous for movies like Borat, Bruno, and the Dictator. But he also did an amazing job in Sweeney Todd as Pirelli, and in Les Miserables as Thernadier. The man can sing and act. But for reasons best known to him, he prefers to do incredibly inappropriate movies.

His performance as Time was out of this world though.  I wish I could adequately describe it. He WAS time personified. You didn’t think about the actor underneath. He was fascinating and a joy to watch. The writers hit the nail on the head with the character, and Cohen completely brought Time to life.

Characters: Every iteration of Alice in Wonderland has always had fantastical characters who are larger (and smaller) than life and quite mad. I remember loving the characters in the first movie. But for some reason they really grated on me this go around. Maybe because they weren’t novel anymore. Or maybe I’ve *gasp* grown up some. But the complete lack of responsibility in almost all of the characters really irked me. Alice straight up runs from her responsibilities in the real world to Underworld. In Underworld everyone, including the White Queen, want Alice to mess with time and the fabric of reality to try and make Hatter mad again.

SPOILER WARNING

Themes/Importance: This movie really tried to tackle some very important themes, and I’ll give them A for Effort. Themes they tried to tackle were: Familial Loyalty. Following your heart vs reality, What it means to be a true friend, achieving the impossible, Asking and giving forgiveness, the means don’t justify the end, and overall girl power.

I really wish I could say that they did a better job at delivering on them. The problem is, they bit off more than they could chew, and their storyline required the characters to wade upstream of the morals they were trying to present, and required one particular theme to be placed in prominence, that being “What it means to be a true friend”.

Don’t get me wrong, being a true friend is something that is great to teach. Too many people and even children, are backstabbers and petty, only thinking of what they can get out of a friendship. But it is also dangerous to push the idea that friendship trumps all else.

True friends are amazing, and can save a life in a crisis. But here is the situuation: Hatter saw his family die years ago. But then he finds a little paper hat he made for his father in the dirt, and now believes they must be alive, and tells Alice that she must find them. When Alice tries to explain that is impossible, he becomes furious and claims Alice is not his friend, that the real Alice would believe him. Heartbroken, Alice and the others decide that the only thing to do is to travel back in time to try and save Hatter’s family.

This involves borrowing the Chronosphere from Time. Problem: Time tells Alice point blank that A) You cannot change the past, only learn from it. And B) The Chronospere powers the Grand Clock. The Grand Clock powers Time itself. And Time Himself. So using the Chronospere has the potential to destroy everything. But to Alice this is an acceptable risk, because her friend needs her.

Personally, I am not ok with teaching children this. In my opinion, a true friend would help Hatter come to terms with his grief and loss, not justify stealing and performing acts that could kill everyone. The ends do not justify the means.

They do try to address this in the very end. Alice does admits to Time that she should have never stolen the Chronosphere. But only after Alice and Hatter get what they want. It is hollow words.

I do love the moral themes that take place between the White and Red Queen; owning up to one’s mistakes and asking for forgiveness. That was done quite well, if late. And better late than never

The most clever part of this movie, which you miss if you aren’t actually analyzing it, is that the real world and Underworld — Alice and the Hatter — Mirror each other. Alice wants nothing to do with her mother and doesn’t want to become like her. Hatter wants to prove he belongs in his family, and wants them back. They find their salvation, in each other. Through the Looking Glass… Mirror Problems and solutions.

I suppose this movie is fun enough. And if you were in love with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland you’re probably going to want to see it anyways. If you’re on the fence, I’d say the tipping point is whether you’re the type of person who is willing to see a movie because one actor’s performance is amazing, then go. If you need the majority of a movie to be on point, then skip this one.

SCORE

Acting: 2/3

Characters: 1/3

Storytelling 1/3

Visual Effects: 3/3

Humor: 1/3

Importance: 1/4

TOTAL SCORE: 9/19

Burnt – Emotions. Friends. Enemies. Kitchen. Emotions Again. Burn em all.

Burnt — I know the movie came out a long time ago. But I am such a terrible procrastinator. I may never make it as a critic, because I can’t be timely about anything. But hey, we are well past the age that if you don’t see it in theaters you will never have a chance to see it again. And I don’t want to be stuck reviewing only new releases anyways. If there is a movie I think worth watching, even if it is 10 years old, I might review it.

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) was once a top chef in Paris until drugs and alcohol led to a meltdown that put his career on hold. After moving from New Orleans to London, Adam gets a shot at redemption when his former maitre d’ (Daniel Brühl) reluctantly hires him as the head chef of his fine-dining restaurant. Demanding perfection from his newly formed staff (Sienna Miller, Omar Sy), the acerbic and temperamental Jones gets a second chance to fulfill his dream of earning a third Michelin star.

Initial Excitement Level: Moderate-Low

Rating: R, for language throughout
Truthfully, I just wanted to watch a movie, and didn’t want to rewatch anything. I have mixed feelings about Bradley Cooper. He has been an acquired taste for me. The first two movies I saw him in were Valentines Day and Limitless, and he was such a sleaze-bag in both of them that my mind decided that he was a sleaze-bag himself (same reason I have a hard time with Amanda Seyfried, after seeing her as the dumb blond in Mean Girls). But overall, I only ever go to the movies with an open mind and ready to be entertained.

And it was amazing. Several of us sitting in the audience actually stopped and talked about how good it was in the hall. We did not know each other. We just needed to express our feelings right then.

BUT

Here is the thing. It gets horrible reviews online. 27% Rotten Tomatoes. 2 out of 5 stars. I have long since accepted that I am easier to please than most critics Or maybe I just look for and place emphasis on differentt things. All I can tell you is what I think and why. But be warned, the normal critics disagree.
Review

It starts in an interesting place. Adam Jones (the main character) has already burned every bridge in his life. And he has already a long way into overcoming his drug addictions. While there are mentions of his messed up past throughout the whole movie, we never see it. No flashbacks or anything. Which I think is a great storytelling decision. There are a lot of movies where we see both the destruction and the redemption process. But this story didn’t need it. Instead we start with him trying to not quite repair his dreams, but redo them. And instead of starting fresh, he pulls together his kitchen staff from the people he burned before and some undiscovered talent, using a combination of coercion, bribery, and slinging a thin rope across a the canyon he burned hhis bridges over. Needless to say, it is a precarious and volatile situation. 

And while I know nothing about how a kitchen works, If the show is any indication, it’s can be a precarious and volatile place as well.

They set the stage to explode. And it kind of does. Multiple times. And in ways that completely blindside you. In fact, the audience gasped out loud in several places. 
Overall the themes of love and hate, friendship, betrayal, revenge, passion, and discovering true redemption make this a drama that kept and held my utmost attention and shocked me more than a few times. And it is so well told. It is nice to have the director and writers assume that the audience is intelligent enough to connect the dots and make inferences about the story without having to be explicitly told everything. Mundane details are better left to the imagination than being hashed out.
Characters: 2/3

Acting: 2/3

Drama: 3/3

Importance: 2/3

Humor: 1/1

Storytelling. 3/3

Score – 13/16