Category Archives: Star Wars

‘Star Wars: Visions’: A Rundown of My Thoughts

I wish this was an overwhelmingly positive post I was about to write. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Star Wars: Visions is beautifully animated, I cannot take that away from the series. Each short is imbued with a palpable love for Star Wars from each Japanese anime studio. Despite this, the series honestly bored me.

The series’ two best episodes, Ronin and The Ninth Jedi, were absolutely fantastic from a storyline perspective. Ronin is unlike anything I’ve seen in Star Wars and left me feeling very, very intrigued about the short’s title character. I will definitely be reading the upcoming novel about him because he is absolutely fascinating!

The Ninth Jedi was also brilliantly developed as a story. I found myself enthralled in the world, the characters, and the unexpected plot twist toward the end of the short. When it concluded I had goosebumps.

Unfortunately, these were the only shorts, out of nine! that had me sitting back in awe. The rest of the shorts felt so repetitive in tone that after a while they just became boring to watch. And don’t get me started on Tatooine Rhapsody. No amount of Boba Fett could save that short for me.

I wanted to love this series. I wanted to come away from Visions feeling like I had seen something truly spectacular but no, I felt the exact opposite. I’m not, however, going to rain on the parade of others who enjoyed this series. I just personally was not at all a fan.

I’ll give the entire series as a whole 7 out of 10.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day.

‘Star Wars’ and the Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Art of the Great Third Act

Denis Villeneuve recently commented that MCU films are “cut and paste of one another” and even though I tried not to be, I got a little triggered. I understood what he meant and that he’s mostly correct but as an MCU fan I felt I had to defend a franchise that I loved so much.

What turned into a simple observational rant with my sister transformed into an epiphany as we realized the secret sauce for Star Wars and Marvel’s greatest third acts. And of course, I’m here to share that epiphany with you. Enjoy!

(This is a longread.)

For some, the MCU’s final acts can be a little stale. For years we have come to expect a story that finds a way to challenge the heroes in the film before reaching a climactic CGI-heavy battle that range from awesome and unforgettable to kind-of-underwhelming.

And while most of the time the third acts are my favorite portion of the film I understand some fans’ exasperation for this somewhat tiring formula. So why do some Marvel films stand out against others? Well, to understand the power of a third act let’s look at the Star Wars movies.

Star Wars: A New Hope followed the classic storytelling template of the Hero’s Journey with a young man going on a wild adventure to save a princess and becoming a hero by the conclusion of that story.

He became a hero, however, thanks to a climactic showdown that featured a giant weapon that had to be destroyed: the Death Star. It was a riveting story and when he managed to blow it up it’s one of the greatest moments in the franchise.

Since then, nearly every Star Wars movie has featured a weapon of some kind needing to be destroyed. Talk about repetitive!

Return of the Jedi, the first somewhat-disappointing Star Wars movie, featured an unfinished second Death Star that was the primary focus of the film. And of course, in repetitive fashion, the Rebel Alliance had to destroy it or the galaxy would be in turmoil.

The only thing that saved that third act from being the ultimate snooze fest was the riveting confrontation between Luke Skywalker, his father Darth Vader, and Palpatine. It was that personal touch that made the movie special and memorable.

You see, Luke fighting to save his father gave emotional gravitas to an ending that could’ve been kind of boring but his showdown with Palpatine was anything but boring because there was that personal connection.

That storyline with Vader and Luke honestly saved the movie because everything else was kind of so-so. Think about the rest of the films that feature massive third acts resulting in some sort of weapon needing to be destroyed.

The Phantom Menace, Trade Federation ship needs to be destroyed to save Naboo. The Force Awakens, the StarKiller Base (Death Star 3.0) needs to be destroyed. The Rise of Skywalker, a satellite needs to be destroyed to stop the Final Order from taking over the galaxy.

And even though Attack of the Clones doesn’t exactly have a weapon that needs destroying, its climactic battle held no personal connection to the characters. The same can be said with Solo: A Star Wars Story. The movie’s climax is boring because we don’t really care about Qi’ra’s story with Dryden, Han’s relationship with Beckett, or even Han’s connection with Qi’ra. So the end just kind of…happens.

You see the trend with these movies? The lack of the personal touch in these movies’ third acts make for somewhat a boring movie. And even though The Force Awakens is a great film it’s a copycat of A New Hope‘s entire structure.

Now let’s look at the best Star Wars movies and their incredible third acts.

Revenge of the Sith didn’t conclude with a massive space battle for the fate of the galaxy. It concluded with a very personal showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar and across the galaxy we had the ultimate duel between the galaxy’s greatest Force-users, Yoda and Palpatine.

We feel so many feelings throughout the film’s final minutes because the trilogy has established a profound connection between these characters that when we see this lightsaber-duel conclusion it feels like it means something.

Padme dies, her children are born and separated, Yoda goes into exile, and the galaxy has actually been taken over by the Empire. It’s a somber ending but it is a fitting conclusion to the Prequel Trilogy.

Rogue One does have a very loooong climactic finale but the personal connection comes with Jyn’s determination to see her father’s plan realized. Plus, not only are the stakes very high but all of the characters die. It’s shocking, it’s emotional to watch, and it’s one of the more memorable endings in the franchise.

The Last Jedi is a mixture of both worlds. On one hand, it suffers terribly from the need-to-destroy-the-weapon storyline as Finn and Rose are assigned on a boring mission to find a way to disable the Dreadnaught’s hyperspace tracker. On the other hand, the film concludes with another personal showdown between Kylo and Snoke, then Rey and Kylo, and then finally Kylo and Luke. The film’s final twenty minutes are utterly fascinating and if the rest of the movie had found a way to exclude that ridiculous casino-detour and Poe’s annoying shenanigans, the movie would’ve been so much better.

The Empire Strikes Back is the perfect Star Wars movie because it takes the personal touch to a whole other level. The film’s biggest battle comes in the film’s first forty minutes on Hoth. After that, the story establishes the connections between the characters–Han and Leia’s burgeoning romance, Luke and Yoda’s master-and-apprentice dynamic–so that when the film’s third act arrives you’re so invested in these characters’ stories the movie becomes even more riveting.

Han gets frozen in carbonite which is a heartbreaking development for Leia. Luke faces Vader in an epic lightsaber duel that concludes with Skywalker losing his hand and a bombshell announcement, Vader is Luke’s father.

You can’t get more personal than that.

So yes, we have now established that a great third act must have a personal touch. Now let’s look at the MCU stories that actually follow this approach.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Endgame, just to name a few.

And what do all of these movies have in common? Their third acts are permeated with that personal touch.

Through all of the classic climactic explosions in The Winter Soldier, there’s a deeper emotional storyline as Captain America tries to save his friend, Bucky. Groot dies in Guardians of the Galaxy. Iron Man goes to town on Captain America and Bucky in Civil War because of their connection to the death of his parents. Black Panther‘s final act features a climactic showdown between cousins T’Challa and Killmonger. And Infinity War and Endgame‘s final acts features Thanos who, having already killed off some of favorite characters, raises the stakes to astronomical levels as we see The Avengers take him on, lose, then fight him again and win, only to lose Iron Man and Black Widow permanently in the process.

Now, let’s look at the MCU stories in Phase 4 so far.

solci lvs jude 🐉 on Twitter: "SPOILER #WandaVisionFinale . . . . . . Cómo  me recupero de esto? "you, vision, you are a piece of the mind stone that  lives in

WandaVision concludes with a bit of a boring CGI-showdown but it still manages to retain that personal connection to Wanda and her story of grief, making the series as a whole fit together rather nicely in that department.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ep 6 recap: MCU series ends with an  uneven but thrilling finale | Entertainment News,The Indian Express

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s finale is very lackluster because:

1: There’s no real personal connection between the heroes and the villains.

2: Karli’s motivations are murky and hard-to-understand so the stakes don’t seem very high. Hence, the reason why the finale is so boring.

Loki finale: Kang the Conqueror, multiversal war, and other key takeaways |  Entertainment News,The Indian Express

Now, Loki gets it. Instead of having a massive showdown like I think we all expected it takes the very personal route with the introduction of He Who Remains, the man that destroyed Sylvie’s life. He tries to give Loki and Sylvie his job but she has no time for it, resulting in a fight/romantic moment between Loki and Sylvie that was anything but expected. Even the final moments with Ravonna and Mobius contain that emotional connection that makes their scenes interesting.

Review: 'Black Widow' Looks Back To The Future Of The MCU - Movie News Net

Black Widow‘s final act is slightly muddied by the CGI-explosion fest but it’s a very personal conclusion for Natasha Romanoff as she is forced to face off with Taskmaster, the man who destroyed her life General Dreykov, her fellow Black Widows, and she has to save her sister Yelena. It’s a powerful conclusion to her story in that film and a great origin story for Yelena at the same time.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' Film Review: Marvel's  Martial-Arts Saga Nails the Characters and the Kicks

And even Shang-Chi, through the CGI-heavy dragon showdown, found a way to make the entire climactic third act personal with Shang-Chi’s connection to Wenwu and his realization of who he is by embracing the light and dark within himself. And guess what? Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is one of the highest-rated superhero movies of all time.

So that’s it. That’s the secret sauce. If Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm can realize that their movies are best when their third acts are imbued with a personal touch there will always be a chance of getting a great movie.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day.

Is Marvel Better than ‘Star Wars’?: Part 3

Over the past four days I have asked myself the question that is the title of this post. In the past two parts I have evalluated the soaring highs and depressing lows of each franchise. I have even shared my personal experiences with each franchise, providing greater insight into what Marvel and Star Wars means to me. But now the time has come. Which franchise is better?

*drum roll*

And the winner is…

Star Wars!

I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe with every fiber of my being. At face value, the MCU clearly defeats Star Wars just by its incredible achievement.

Over the span of four decades, Star Wars has provided us 11 movies and only maybe four of them can be considered by all to be great films.

Meanwhile, the MCU has provided 25 films in thirteen years and there are at least ten movies in the franchise that are favored warmly by the fandom.

However, even though the MCU is a far more cohesive story there’s nothing quite like Star Wars.

The level of iconicism that is Star Wars is staggering. It literally changed the world, permeating our very souls with its brilliance and inspiring generations of fans. Would the MCU even exist if there was no Star Wars? I don’t think so.

And personally, as much as I cherish the MCU and every moment of joy it has given me, it will still never match the level of euphoric exhilaration that Star Wars can give me.

Take this story for example.

I remember the indescribable feeling I had when The Force Awakens was coming out. I remember my father, the day before its premiere, taking us to our local movie theater early in the morning. It was a chilly grey morning and as we walked up to the theater doors and peeked inside I remember seeing this poster.

The feeling of unexplainable awe that washed over me in that moment is something I will never forget.

I also remember the day that I saw The Force Awakens teaser for the first time. My family and I had gone to Washington D.C. to see family for Thanksgiving and as we sat in our hotel room on the beautiful morning of Thanksgiving Eve, the teaser dropped.

My family and I piled onto the same bed and watched the teaser on our laptop and yes, my mind was blown. It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen. We watched it over and over again utterly astounded that yes, Star Wars was back.

It’s those little personal moments like that that makes Star Wars a franchise unlike any other. And even though the MCU will continue to grow and amaze us all on a yearly basis I assure you, my heart will skip a beat when The Book of Boba Fett trailer eventually drops.

There’s not a single upcoming MCU trailer that can get me that excited. Well, my heart might skip a beat when the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer drops in January. (Had to slip in that trailer prediction.) 😁

So yes, Star Wars still reigns supreme, no matter how much I complain.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day.

Is Marvel Better than ‘Star Wars’: Part 2?

A couple of days ago I wrote the first part of this 3-part series where I look deep within and determine which mega-franchise I love better, Marvel or Star Wars.

General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

In Part 1, I detailed the critic and audience reaction to each Star Wars film as well as my personal preference for each movie and the emotional rollercoaster that has been Star Wars for most of my life. As a Star Wars fan, it’s unfortunate to say that I’ve experienced more pain and depressing heartache with this franchise than unbridled joy and yet it is those bright spots–the lightsaber duels, the profound lessons that have actually helped me in my real life, the heroes and villains, and that incredible music–that keeps me invested in these stories.

Just look at my journey while watching The Bad Batch. Each week was a detailed account of my growing anger/disappointment with the series until by the end, I had given up caring about writing a weekly review for the show. And yet! I watched the whole thing. All sixteen episodes.

So yes, Star Wars may drive me batty sometimes but I am one of the most loyal fans that there is.

Now, Marvel Studios’ journey has been an entirely different ride altogether. It’s only been in the game for thirteen years but it has dominated a little over half of my life. I literally came of age with this franchise and these stories. My relationship with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on a whole other level and I’m about to share my feelings of this franchise in great detail.

(This is a longread.)

Continue reading Is Marvel Better than ‘Star Wars’: Part 2?

Is Marvel Better than ‘Star Wars’?: Part 1

This is a question that has been plaguing me since Infinity War. It’s a question that I thought I would never ask myself but after years and years and years of consistently good-to-great content from the MCU it was a question I had to start honestly asking myself. But it’s a question I never answered…until now.

(This is a longread.)

Think about it. Star Wars has been wholly consistent over the past four decades. In 1977, George Lucas created an instant global phenomenon out of a film that mashed the qualities of a great fairy tale (a young boy goes on a life-changing adventure with a wizard, saves a princess, and becomes a hero) with the imagination of a sci-fi fantasy epic unlike anything else that had been created before.

Like Tolkien, he created a world with languages and creatures and characters that were as defined as historical figures, worlds, and animals in the real world. It was incredible, it was hypnotizing, game-changing, and it spawned a franchise that literally has millions of fans across the globe, me included.

Continue reading Is Marvel Better than ‘Star Wars’?: Part 1

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘A New Hope’ Have Nearly Identical Beginnings

Avengers: Infinity War came out a few months ago and blew minds around the world, culminating a little over $2 billion dollars in its box-office run. Now it’s just recently come out on Digital and I have been enjoying it thoroughly! But in my second to latest viewing I realized something kind of amazing.

Disney owns two of the most popular franchises right now, Marvel and Star Wars, and a lot can be compared between the two but one thing that usually can’t be compared are the movies’ narrative compositions. Well, I have discovered that Avengers: Infinity War and A New Hope have nearly identical beginnings and that’s what I’m excited to share it with you. Enjoy!

Both Movies Start Showing a Ship Under Attack By a Larger Ship

asgardianship

In Avengers: Infinity War the first thing we see after the iconic Marvel logo is Thor’s Asgardian ship under attack by Thanos’s massive craft.

Pursued by the Empire

And in A New Hope we see Princess Leia’s ship, the Tantative IV, being chased and eventually caught by an Imperial Star Destroyer.

Continue reading ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘A New Hope’ Have Nearly Identical Beginnings