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Random Thoughts: American Made, or Not Enough Pablo Escobar

No room in this shot for the famous Tom Cruise sprint.

•I just loved this film's production design and cinematography. It nailed the '80s feel quite perfectly, even better than Netflix's Narcos did. Sorry, but since this is a film about the Medellin Cartel, comparisons to Narcos will crop up every now and then.

•Tom Cruise runs again. It's a relatively short distance, though. But he still runs. Got to admire this man. He will always throw in a running scene in his films.

•Doug Liman is a versatile director. He's great with action movies, sure. He's done quite a number of those already. Didn't think he could pull off a biopic. Also, this film has a Tony Scott vibe. Like music video-style, freeze frames and such.

•I definitely need a new genre to watch. Too many money laundering films for this year. I've seen Ozark and Narcos, which are both from Netflix. Then this. Now I'm curious about the process of laundering money, and just how lucrative a career it really is.

•That's Jesse Plemons as Sheriff Downing. He's the guy who played Todd in Breaking Bad. But he's grown a bit bigger here.

•That's Lola Kirke as Sheriff Downing's wife. She's the girl from Mozart in the Jungle. Wish she had more scenes.

•Caleb Landry Jones really looks like white trash, doesn't he? He's too... white. And all those freckles. Also, he's too white. I said that already. Because he is. He's like an albino.

•Domhnall Gleeson looks a bit too young to play a CIA agent, doesn't he? Well, he's younger than I am. But I like him. I'm happy for his Hollywood career.

•Sorry, Mauricio Mejia. Wagner Moura has become the standard for any Pablo Escobar performance from this point forward. Blame it all on Netflix.

•Overall, this film is quite as interesting, but is actually not as factual as I would've hoped. I love biopics, it's one of my favourite film genres. But what I love about biopics is the truthfulness of it. For me, it kind of kills the magic when you realise, "Eh, that's not how it happened."

"There's really not that many roles for gingers in Hollywood, man."

American Made. USA. 2017.

Original rating: 7.2/10
Production design: +0.1
Not enough Lola Kirke: -0.1
Caleb Landry Jones's freckles: -0.1
Factual inconsistencies: -0.1
Final rating: 7.0/10


Episode Recap/Random Thoughts: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4: "The Spoils of War"

"I'm tougher than you, Jaime. I still have both my hands."

•The show opens with a marching Lannister army, fresh from the sacking of Highgarden, and a visual testament to how expensive this show's budget is for extras. As the scene unfolds, some of you may start to wonder, "What the hell is Bronn still doing here? How in the name of the old gods is he still alive?" The answer to that is plain and simple, but some might find it difficult to accept: Bronn is the best player of the game of thrones. No, really. A lowborn, with no great House to protect him, yet always on the front lines of the action – how the hell is he still alive?

•I thought Bran Stark's powers include the ability to read the memories of an object. Like those people who can touch a coin and see where it has been, or those who can touch a key and see which lock it opens. But apparently not, because as soon as his fingers touched the Valyrian steel dagger, he should have known that Littlefinger lied about who he lost the dagger to (it wasn't Tyrion).

•Hooray for Arya's homecoming! Now the Stark siblings – at least those still alive – are back in Winterfell, and that's all that matters. After all, there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and now there are three. Arya has become a formidable warrior, Sansa has become a cunning politician, and Bran has become the most powerful character in this series so far. If only the writers knew how to maximise his potential.

•I just love the sexual tension between the Mother of Dragons and the King in the North. Jon Snow should have made his move in the cave. The Dothraki guards have already been told to stay back, so I'm sure they could have done a quickie in there. Oh, but Jon Snow's fully armoured. Yeah, I forgot. Undressing would eat up precious time.

•Hello, Podrick. You've gotten fat. Maybe that's why you can't seem to win any sparring matches with Brienne? It's okay, though. You're a nice guy and a loyal squire, and I hope you don't die in this series.

•Hello, Arya. You show-off. Why don't you just take your Valyrian steel dagger and point it at Littlefinger's throat, the way he pointed a blade at Ned Stark's throat? In fact, while Littlefinger's in Winterfell, why don't you disguise yourself as Sansa and seduce him? Then when he has his guard down, rip your mask off and catch him off guard, then slash his throat? Either way, Littlefinger must die.

"Obi-Wan has taught you well."

•I really think Ser Davos has a thing for Missandei. Who wouldn't? Davos isn't married, as far as I know. Although Missandei has a boyfriend, but he's stuck in Casterly Rock. So there. Go, Ser Davos! Use the father figure thing you got going to your advantage!

•Come on, Ser Jaime. Cut Dickon Tarly some slack. His family switched allegiance just for you. Don't be a dick about it. If you're gonna piss on Dickon Tarly, it should be for stealing screen time from his brother Sam. That's because when Sam is onscreen, so will Archmaester Ebrose. But now I have to wait until next episode to find out if Jim Broadbent will make an appearance.

•Here come the Dothraki! Those horse-lords must really love Daenerys to have followed her across their continent of Essos, to fight in a war that doesn't concern them. But thanks to the Targaryen megalomania, we get to see the Dothraki fight on horseback, which is literally a sight to behold. I'm guessing this was how the Mongols rode into battle during the time of Genghis Khan.

•Yay Drogon! Fry those Lannister soldiers! Go and burn as much as you can! Set as many wagons on fire! Wreak as much havoc as possible! We only have a few more episodes left in this series, and honestly, we haven't had a lot of dragon action! It's time Messrs. Benioff and Weiss made up for all the previous seasons without dragons. Also, are we going to have a battle with all three dragons? Drogon is just one dragon. Where are the other two? Get to work on it, showrunners.

•Let us all applaud Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Not only is he a pretty good shot with the scorpion, but he also saved Ser Jaime from ending up as some burned body. Although I'm not sure if this is a case of "out of the frying pan and into the fire", since the last shot we see is Jaime sinking into the depths in full battle armour. Who's gonna save him from that?

How many people does Jaime Lannister owe his life to?


Episode Recap/Random Thoughts: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 3: "The Queen's Justice"

"Just our weapons, right? Why are they taking our boat?"

•At last, the King in the North lands on Dragonstone. Here he is greeted by Queen Daenerys's welcoming party, consisting of the Hand of the Queen Tyrion Lannister and her most trusted adviser Missandei. (In modern terms, I wonder who among them would be Daenerys's chief of staff?) The reunion between the bastard and the dwarf is a bit touching, as you can literally feel that they go way back, all the way back to Season 1, in fact.

•Ser Davos, are you hitting on Missandei? She's taken. Although her man has no manhood, so I guess you can pleasure her with your fingers. See what I did there? No? Okay, never mind.

•Why don't Varys and Melisandre seem to get along? I think it's probably because Varys feels threatened that Melisandre might join the Queen's entourage. Since she's a powerful red priestess while Varys is only as useful as the reliability of his spies, if the Queen had to take someone off her entourage, it would probably be Varys.

•Daenerys currently has seven (7) titles. She is Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, 1) rightful heir to the Iron Throne, 2) rightful queen of the Andals and the First Men, 3) protector of the Seven Kingdoms, 4) the mother of dragons, 5) the Khaleesi of the great grass sea, 6) the Unburnt, 7) the Breaker of Chains. Stormborn is probably her middle name, like in her birth certificate, it says "Targaryen, Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen" (as she was a child of incest).

•One has to commend Jon Snow for how he handled Daenerys Targaryen. He acted like a king, yet he did not exalt himself the way Daenerys did. Compared to Daenerys, his only title is "King in the North". He has no claim to his position except his leadership skills, his fighting abilities, and his sense of honour and justice. He's a bastard, and he knows it, yet his social status never stopped him from acting like a king. He was born to rule, and he hates it; the mantle of leadership is a burden for him to carry. But despite the pressure exerted from the side with the huge army and three dragons, Jon Snow refused to bend a knee. The northerners would've been proud.

•I'm probably not the only one who wishes Daenerys and Jon Snow should totally bone. If Snow is indeed a Targaryen, then Dany would be his aunt. On the incest scale, that would be a bit more tolerable than sibling sex (Honestly, all guys have that one aunt they'd like to bang, although I don't know if the converse is true for girls and their uncles.) That sexual encounter would indeed be a meeting of ice and fire. Coincidentally, "Ice" and "Fire" are also varieties of sex lubricants from Bliss. You're welcome.

•Poor Theon Greyjoy. He was rescued from the sea by some ironborn sailors loyal to Yara, but as they hauled his sorry ass from the water, all they could see was a coward. A craven. A pathetic excuse for a man. But like I said in my review for the previous episode, Theon had his reasons for jumping. No one is in any position to judge him, unless they've been through the same things he has. Sadly, no one will ever understand this.

•Euron Greyjoy is my least favourite character in this series. And by that I mean I hate him the most, not that I find him the most uninteresting. I hate him now more than Cersei Lannister, and I think the effectiveness of his portrayal is a testament to Pilou Asbæk's acting skills. Plus, his capture of Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand seems to have turned the tide of this war.

•I think one of the yardsticks for measuring true evil is how one carries out a plan for revenge. Take Cersei Lannister, for example. At first I thought, "What's with the lipstick, Cersei?" And then it turns out it's actually poisoned lipstick, and she kisses Ellaria's daughter on the lips with it. If you recall, that was also how Cersei's daughter Myrcella was killed by Ellaria in Season 5, so there's a kind of poetic justice at play here. This suggests premeditation of the highest degree, and Cersei even goes one-up on Ellaria by dooming her to watch her daughter die and slowly decompose in front of her very eyes. True evil? You bet it is.

The only one in this episode who bent a knee was Cersei.

•Twincest is back. Hooray. Or not. Wait, who's the maid in the pixie cut? Well, she's not a new character, according to Vanity Fair. She's been serving Cersei Lannister since Season 2.

•Hooray, Mark Gatiss! Another awesome cameo for this season. Gatiss is a good actor, because despite looking like Myrcroft Holmes from Sherlock, his acting here isn't like Myrcroft at all. His character here is very serious, very corporate, and very effective. You can practically feel your loan application getting approved or denied just by listening to the tone of his voice.

•Is it just me, or does it seem like the director forced in a lot of shots overlooking the cliffs of Dragonstone just to maximise the location? It's like, "Hey, get a load of this view! You don't get this everyday! Okay, we'll shoot Varys and Melisandre here, then one brooding scene between Tyrion and Jon Snow trying to out-brood each other, then another one with Daenerys and Jon Snow when she allows him to mine the dragonglass!" They most likely dubbed the dialogue in those scenes, as I imagine the wind from those cliffs was probably howling.

•Sansa seems to have the North all taken care of. She'd make a pretty good Lord of Winterfell, or whatever the female version of a lord is. (Lady of Winterfell? Doesn't have the same ring to it, though.) Oh, and Bran's back. And he has a lot of explaining to do, because apparently his sister still thinks he can be Lord of Winterfell. I wish the Stark siblings would just team up and get Littlefinger out of the picture. It'll be best for everyone.

•Look at Bran Stark. You think that's wooden acting by Isaac Hempstead Wright? On the contrary, he's portraying a character whose brain is fried from too much weirwood use. No, I don't mean as a drug. I mean he's tapped into weirwoods too much as part of his Three-Eyed Raven training that his brain has overloaded. What would you expect from someone who can see the past, the present, and the future all at once? Not even Sansa could handle the awkward weirdness.

•Ser Jorah's greyscale may be no more, but his scars are still a horrible sight to behold. Well, at least he's cured. And I mean totally cured, because Sam even has the courage to shake his hand after that. But enough about Jorah Mormont. Let's talk about Jim Broadbent. Ah, Jim Broadbent... my new favourite character in this series. I love him so much, I even signed up on Reddit just so I could rave about how good he is.

•The Unsullied take Casterly Rock, which is a good thing. But it seems a bit fishy, isn't it, how easily they took it? I would've wanted to see some Unsullied action. Sadly, we won't get that treat this episode, because Jaime Lannister has taken his army to march on Highgarden. Also, damn you, Randyll Tarly. I thought you were honourable.

•Goodbye, Lady Olenna. You're one of the good bitches in Westeros. I don't mean that in a bad way; all the powerful women on this show are bitches. But you're a good bitch. So basically, you'll be gone by next episode, and House Tyrell's coffers will be used to pay the Iron Bank. That doesn't seem like a nice way to go. But of course, you dropped the bomb regarding Joffrey's death, which is a great dick move. The only regret you'll have is you won't see Cersei's face when she finds out it was you who poisoned that cunt.

Yeah, he's a cunt... but he's my cunt!


Episode Recap/Random Thoughts: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2: "Stormborn"

Team Targaryen Pre-Invasion Working Lunch.

•Okay, Queen Daenerys, there's no need to threaten Varys. He may be a sly little bugger, with all his little birds and all, but his heart is in the right place. Even Ned Stark trusted him, despite his aversion to eunuchs. And Varys worked hard for you during your Essos campaign, unflinching under the hot desert sun. Haven't you noticed his tan?

•It's nice that the Red Priestess travelled all the way to Dragonstone to make the intro for Jon Snow. But who sent her? Did she travel there on her own accord? If she did, how could she have anticipated that Daenerys would already be there? Was she waiting all this time to pay a courtesy call to the Mother of Dragons? Those questions, I'm afraid, must remain unanswered, just like the question of how she can give birth to some black shadow baby. We'll never know.

•Among all the Stark children, Jon Snow is actually the one who takes after Ned Stark the most (although he may not be Ned's son, he still is a Stark, after all). Jon Snow is an honourable man, and a good man to the core. And we can all take a page from the bastard's book: it actually pays to be good. As long as you do good deeds, and treat others with kindness, people will never speak ill of you. And that is why, despite being King in the North, Daenerys doesn't see him as a threat. Melisandre and Tyrion Lannister vouched for him. His reputation preceded him, and it worked to his advantage.

•In King's Landing, Cersei proceeds to muster her army by calling on the bannermen of Olenna Tyrell, who as we all know is in open rebellion against the crown. But Cersei's bitchy approach isn't the most diplomatic way to win the people's support, which is why her twin brother Jaime Lannister has decided to utilise backchannels in order to convince the lesser Houses to join their cause. House Tarly seems to be an honourable lot, but everyone has their price, and I wonder how much it will take for Randyll Tarly to flip.

•Speaking of Tarlys, Samwell Tarly continues his work in the Citadel, this time focusing his efforts on the cure for greyscale. Archmaester Ebrose continues to school young Tarly in the fashion of law school professors instilling fear in freshmen law students. The knowledge to cure greyscale is known to the archmaester, but he also knows how dangerous the procedure is, and he's not one to attempt it readily. But Samwell Tarly is a man with a very strong will, and not even lack of knowledge and experience can stop him from achieving his dream of being the best greyscale surgeon in Westeros. Ser Jorah has no choice, truth be told. It's either Sam's scalpel or a slow death in a hard shell.

•Cersei Lannister is one strong woman, and Daenerys Targaryen and her army of Dothraki and Unsullied doesn't really do much to worry her. What she is really concerned about are the dragons, and Daenerys has three of them. It seems she's found something that can penetrate dragonhide, and hopefully this weapon can keep the dragons at bay, to at least even the odds for an exciting battle.

"What the hell is this, Maester Qyburn?"
"Uh... a... dragon nerf gun?"

•So the planning stages are well under way, it seems, as Team Targaryen discusses its battle plan with three potential allies: the matriarch Olenna Tyrell, the scheming Ellaria Sand, and the sexually fluid Yarra Greyjoy (all of them women, it should be noted). I can see a wonderful relationship being forged between Lady Olenna and Queen Daenerys, a has-been and a soon-to-be. After losing Queen Margaery when Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor in the Season 6 finale, Lady Olenna has lost a reigning monarch who would listen to her precious words of wisdom. That's all she wants, really: a young queen she can shape and mold into the ruler she should have been.

•Okay, let's get to the highlight of this episode: the Grey Worm-Missandei sex scene. I thought at first that the Unsullied were regular eunuchs, meaning their testicles were castrated but their penises were left intact. But apparently most eunuchs in Westeros, including the Unsullied and Varys, are emasculated, meaning both their testicles and penises have been taken away from them. So what Grey Worm and Missandei have must be true love: Grey Worm accepting that he will never achieve orgasm with her, and Missandei accepting that she can never climax with him inside her. But Missandei doesn't seem to mind. At least, not yet.

•Hello, Hot Pie. You seem healthy and happy. Well, you're alive in Westeros, and considering the political climate, that's quite an achievement. Plus, you're baking pies, something you really love doing, and how many people in Westeros can claim to have a profession that doesn't feel like work? Am I right?

•So Jon Snow has accepted Daenerys's invitation to head to Dragonstone and bend a knee. Honestly, that doesn't sound like an invitation, anyway, but he's King in the North, so what the heck. Before he leaves, though, he needs to make sure the North is in good hands, so he leaves his sister Sansa in charge, because there must always be a Stark in Winterfell. And to make sure that Sansa gets to govern without any distractions, Jon Snow also leaves a friendly reminder for Petyr Baelish. You've got to admire Littlefinger, though. Men who are that determined to have something usually get what they want in the end.

•Is that Nymeria? It could be. But then again, maybe it's not her. But look at that thing. That's one gigantic dog, so it's obviously a direwolf. And how many direwolves are left on Westeros, really? Wasn't the Stark litter the last of their kind? So that has to be Nymeria. Or maybe not. Well, Arya says it's not her, but then again, she could just be consoling herself by sourgraping.

•I really hate Euron Greyjoy. That was already a clear set-up for some Yarra and Ellaria girl-on-girl action, but he had to ruin it with his stupid naval assault. And so what if Theon Greyjoy jumped? The man's been broken, and he's endured what no man deserves to endure, so cut him some slack. He's not a coward; on the contrary, he's actually a very smart man for doing what he did. He probably took one look at Euron, and after seeing the crazed look in his eyes, decided that his uncle might actually be crazier than Ramsay Bolton, and he's not going to stay and find out what's in store for him as a prisoner. Pretty fast decision-making right there, if you ask me.

See? Crazy eyes.


Random Thoughts: Dunkirk IMAX, or Christopher Nolan Refuses to Do a Straight Linear Narrative

"If I was in World War II, they'd call me Spitfire." -The Prodigy


•If you're watching this, chances are this isn't your first Christopher Nolan film. So you'll probably be expecting another mind-blowing subject matter, the way Inception blew your mind with lucid dreaming, or the way Interstellar blew your mind with the fifth dimension. Dunkirk is a different kind of Nolan film, in the sense that its subject matter – the British evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War – isn't going to blow your mind.

Dunkirk tells three stories, with three different themes: 1) Land, with the stranded soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk; 2) Sea, with the civilian boatmen whose naval vessels are commandeered to rescue the stranded soldiers; and 3) Air, with the brave pilots who flew the Spitfires.

•Since it seems that Nolan is unable (or refuses) to do a straight linear narrative, he chooses to go for his famous non-linear storytelling style. Here he uses three different time signatures, which are stated in the text for each of the three stories. "The Mole", which is the beach narrative, takes place over a week. "The Sea", about the boats that come to the rescue, takes place over a day. "The Air", which features the brilliant dogfights, takes place over an hour. All three stories are intercut with one another, and they conclude simultaneously in the end.

Michael Caine is in this picture once again, this time appearing as the voice giving instructions to the RAF pilots in their Spitfires. But does Michael Caine really have to be in all of Nolan's films? The answer to that, apparently, is a yes. The director himself confirms it: "He has to be in all my films, after all."

•Cillian Murphy is listed in the end credits as "Shivering Soldier". This got me excited about a possibility in filmmaking: Is it possible to make a film where no character is named specifically? I would argue it is. In fact, Dunkirk should've been the perfect film to prove that theory, if only they didn't have to name some of the soldiers. But still, Cillian Murphy as "Shivering Soldier" is a step in the right direction, so I hope one daring filmmaker actually does it in the future.

Not sure if these guys were credited as "Running Soldiers".

•Hans Zimmer's musical score is bloody awesome. His use of a literal ticking clock to enhance the suspense of a ticking clock narrative is genius. Coupled with the awesome sound design, this film's audio really succeeds in driving home the urgency, bringing us as close as possible to the tension felt by the actual soldiers at Dunkirk.

•The A-list actors delivered great performances, as is to be expected in a Christopher Nolan film. Mark Rylance always nails the kind yet authoritative grandfather role. Tom Hardy, despite having his face mostly covered again, overcomes that hurdle by acting with his eyes. James D'Arcy assumes another second-in-command naval officer role like in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. And Kenneth Branagh was just excellent. As an authority figure who carries the burden of war on his shoulders while trying to appear strong in the face of his men, Branagh just knocks the ball out of the park. Well of course he does. He's Kenneth Branagh.

•Apart from the A-listers, it's this film's relatively unknown cast that provides a great complement to the acting department. Fionn Whitehead has that young and inexperienced rookie look about him, which is probably what most of the soldiers at Dunkirk looked like. Barry Keoghan was able to capture in his performance the spirit of a boy who awakens to the harsh realities of war (too bad he died, I liked his face). And Harry Styles...

•Harry Styles is quite good. I've heard a few One Direction songs, but I'm not aware who the individual members are, so of course I've never heard of Harry Styles. Which turned out to be a good thing, as I had no prejudice toward his acting ability, and was quite surprised that the kid had some chops. Also, he has some sort of Daniel Padilla-feel about him. And I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.

•SM MOA's IMAX theatre didn't show this in 70 mm. Such a shame, really, when they showed Interstellar in 70 mm back in 2014. I don't know, maybe there aren't that many celluloid cinephiles in this country. So I had to resort to seeing this in IMAX. My only gripe here was why wasn't the image projected to cover the entire screen? Even in The Dark Knight, the scenes shot in IMAX covered the whole screen. What happened, IMAX MOA?

Nothing like seeing the majestic blue sea in full IMAX glory.

Dunkirk. USA/UK. 2017.

Original rating: 8.5/10
Harry Styles' Daniel Padilla-feel: -0.1
Nolan's use of different time signatures: +0.1
IMAX MOA not projecting to its full extent: -0.1
Sound design: +0.1
Musical score: +0.1
Finally seeing what a Spitfire looks like: +0.1
Final rating: 8.7/10


Episode Recap/Random Thoughts: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1: "Dragonstone"

Red Wedding avenged: Check.

•Arya Stark is fast becoming the most fearsome character in this series. First, she's got skills with her sword. Yes, she got beat up last season, but she was blind then. And she was a student of Syrio Forel, so her training is of a higher level than the courtyard steel training of the Winterfell boys. Second, she's small, which makes her quicker and more slippery in close combat. She can probably defeat The Mountain, as long as she stays close. Third, she's a girl, which gives her the ability to slip in and out unnoticed, since Westeros, like the real world, values women less than men. Fourth, she can do face-changing now, although she needs to wear it Mission Impossible-style, unlike Jaqen H'ghar who can change faces in the blink of an eye. And finally, she also has a lot of rage and anger pent up inside her, and all this negative energy is basically her will to live.

•The White Walkers have at least three giants. Three. That's three times the number of giants Jon Snow had in the Battle of the Bastards. Plus, they're undead giants.

•Bran Stark has found sanctuary now at Castle Black, although due to some really bad timing, his sister and half-brother are at Winterfell. Tough luck. And also, Dolorous Edd can totally rock it as Lord Commander.

•Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Jon Snow, the King in the North, shows the Northern Houses his leadership skills, putting all doubts of a bastard ruling over them to rest. He and Sansa need to work on their teamwork, though, as the eldest legitimate heir of Ned Stark has a habit of undermining her bastard brother.

•Meanwhile, in King's Landing, the Kingslayer shatters his twin sister's delusions of grandeur by snapping her back to reality, reminding her that she is queen of three out of seven kingdoms, at best. Cersei, ever the sly bitch, reveals that she has a plan that could give the Lannisters dominion over the waters of Westeros: the Iron Fleet.

•Euron Greyjoy may have command of the biggest naval armada in Westeros, but his character is a douchebag. His mere presence onscreen makes me want to plunge a sword through his chest. I think he is the most despicable character on the series right now. The series needs at least one despicable character at any given time, and that vacancy was filled by Euron following the death of Ramsay Bolton.

"Come at me, bro."

•Samwell Tarly discovers that life in the Citadel isn't all knowledge and books. There's also chores involved, such as cleaning chamberpots, washing dishes, cleaning chamberpots, cooking, cleaning chamberpots, arranging books, and cleaning chamberpots. He also makes two amazing discoveries in this episode: 1) the fact that dragonglass is found under Dragonstone; and 2) the scaly-skinned Ser Jorah Mormont.

•Jim Broadbent is great as Archmaester Ebrose. He's like that brilliant professor of higher learning who always answers questions in a cocky manner, as if he's annoyed that you even have to ask the question in the first place, but deep inside he's glad that his student's curiosity isn't stifled in the least.

•Littlefinger's moves on Sansa Stark are becoming a bit predatorily creepy, and I'm afraid he might pull a stunt from out of nowhere in latter episodes that would compromise the war in the north. Please, Messrs. Benioff and Weiss. Please don't.

•That sounds like Ed Sheeran singing. It is Ed Sheeran. Oh, and there are actually nice Lannister soldiers? Who would've thought? Also, the guy who made the blackberry wine looks like a younger Stephen Fry.

•I thought they'd already be showing Beric Dondarrion in action, but I guess it's too early in the season for that. I think it's a good thing for the Hound to have joined his group, though. It seems to have activated the Hound's guilty conscience, as he finally makes amends to that farmer and his daughter that he murdered in a previous episode by giving them a proper burial. See, I've always known the Hound's a good guy underneath all that toughness.

•And finally, Queen Daenerys makes her homecoming. She finally lands on Dragonstone, and she looks about her ancestral castle as though it was in bad need of interior decorating. It made me wonder, though, how she had time to get her hair styled and her nails French-tipped while her ship was crossing the waters of the Narrow Sea. The answer: an extremely dedicated entourage.

Lord Varys obviously got a good tan.


Random Thoughts: Beauty and the Beast, or This Isn't the Last of Disney's Animation-to-Live Action Adaptations

"You had me at 'library'."

•This isn't a shot-for-shot remake of the original 1991 animated film by Disney. This is more or less a very similar retelling, updated for a modern audience, particularly those who weren't born yet when the original was released.

•There are more songs here than the original one, but the great thing is, it's by the same composer and lyricist, Alan Menken and Tim Rice. And I believe that's the reason the new songs are a great fit to the old. Like, to someone who hasn't seen the original, all the songs in this 2017 version would have a unified feel to it, and they probably wouldn't be able to tell which songs are more than 20 years old.

•Emma Watson can sing, yes, but just barely. Like you can tell musical theatre isn't her background. In fact, she is, in my opinion, this film's weakest link. But I can't seem to think of anyone else who could've played Belle in this live-action version.

•Ewan McGregor was awesome as Lumiere. We've heard him sing before, in Moulin Rouge, so no surprise there. And to think he'd never seen the original before he signed up for this project. But with the way he sang "Be Our Guest", you can't tell. You'd probably even think he's seen the original a thousand times on VHS.

•I'm not a fan of the boots, Emma Watson. I understand it was your call to wear them. What were you thinking? No. Just no.

"You're not wearing those hideous boots, are you?"

•Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou were awesome. Unlike Emma Watson, these two are great singers. Josh Gad has already shown us his vocal prowess in Pixels, so it's nothing new, really. But Luke Evans came as quite a surprise. And to think I used to refer to him as a "poor man's Orlando Bloom".

•Apparently, LeFou is the first openly-gay Disney character. I just found that out recently, because it wasn't really obvious in the animated version. But I think Josh Gad is really gay. Or at least he could pass for gay. Actually, he's a family man with two daughters, so I don't think he's gay.

•I understand it was a stylistic choice to put Mrs. Potts's face on the side of the teapot instead of having the spout as her nose. But the animation looked kind of tacky, of you ask me. Emma Thompson in lieu of Angela Lansbury is okay, but I just don't like how the animation looks, sorry.

•I didn't know Ian McKellen was Cogsworth. I can picture him in a superhero film franchise. But I thought voice acting would be beneath his status as a skilled thespian. Apparently everyone has a price. I wonder how much he got paid for this gig.

•Dan Stevens was perfect as the Beast. First, because he sings quite well. Second, because he kind of looked like the prince in the animated version. With all the effort he exerted in his performance, it's a shame director Bill Condon didn't opt for practical make-up over CGI, but it was still a good job nonetheless.

Why does Cogsworth look like a Transformer?

Beauty and the Beast. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 8.0/10
"Be Our Guest": +0.1
"The Mob Song": +0.1
Emma Watson's singing: -0.1
Underutilising Kevin Kline: -0.1
Underutilising Stanley Tucci: -0.1
Audra McDonald's singing: +0.1
French translations at the end titles: +0.1
Final rating: 8.0/10


Random Thoughts: Kong: Skull Island IMAX 3D, or This Is Just the Start of a Monster Cinematic Universe

Riding off into the sunset... to certain death.

•Okay, first thing's first. Kong is not a gorilla. He walks upright, like man. So this makes him more a primate than an ape. A primate that looks very much like a gorilla.

•Toby Kebbel dies. The actor I like more than the actual lead star Tom Hiddleston doesn't make it to the end. Why, oh why? Wait, I don't actually know who the lead star is. If it's the one that gets top billing, then it's Hiddleston. But if it's the one with the most screen time, I think it's Samuel L. Jackson. Or Kong.

•I'm not sure if the Richard Nixon bobblehead doll on the helicopter dashboard is an anachronism. Although bobblehead dolls did indeed exist during this period, my research has revealed that early bobblehead dolls had generic faces, with very few specifically recognisable heads, and I don't think Nixon was that popular to warrant his own line of mass-produced bobbleheads.

•The curly-haired Latino scientist–the one who expressed his desire to just stay on the boat–got killed by being snatched from the boat by some flying creature. His death reminded me very much of the accountant's in Jurassic Park.

•Samuel L. Jackson says one of my favourite Samuel L. Jackson lines ever: "Hold on to your butts." This line was, again, from Jurassic Park.


•Samuel L. Jackson has no redemption. He died a true villain. He didn't even let Kong live. Not even when they had eye contact while Kong was down, when "the big one" was making its way to them. Damn you, Mr. Jackson.

•This film, by the way, is set during the tail-end of the Vietnam War, in case you didn't get the Apocalypse Now vibe this movie seems to be giving off.

•Tom Hiddleston looks great in rugged themes. Yes, he looks great as Loki, but the rugged, unshaven look suits him better. Like how he looked like in The Night Manager. But seriously, what happened to his badassery? The first time we see him, he beats up guys at the pool table, and even breaks a cue stick on his knee. He never followed through on that badassery.

•Kong is huge. Like extremely huge. This is probably the biggest incarnation of Kong on the big screen ever. So it makes sense to see this film on the biggest screen known to man: IMAX. In fact, despite not being shot in IMAX nor in 3D, it seems IMAX 3D is the best format to see this film in.

•This film utilises great CGI. However, the creature designs, not so great. Those skull crawlers? Terrible. I mean, what're they supposed to be? Half-evolved lizard snakes? Ugh.

•And now we go to the end credits scene. So what is their mission now? Is this going to be like a monster cinematic universe? Apparently, it seems like they're serious about the idea.

"God damn, you're ugly."

Kong: Skull Island. USA. 2017.

Original rating: 7.9/10
No Brie Larson nudity: -0.1
Eugene Cordero: +0.1
John Goodman as a despicable character: -0.1
Toby Kebbel dying: -0.1
Samuel L. Jackson dying: +0.1
Final rating: 7.8/10


Random Thoughts: Logan, or It's Been an Honour, Mr. Jackman

*Random Thoughts is a new style of reviewing I'm trying out, so this blog can release reviews faster. In case you don't know, reviewing films is time-consuming, and I don't get paid to do this.

"My daddy drives a limo. And decapitates people."

•Great move for Stephen Merchant. Those who don't know him will be surprised to learn that he is one of the greatest comedic minds of the English-speaking world. He's the co-creator of The Office, and the creator and star of HBO's short-lived Hello Ladies. So seeing him in the non-comedic role of Caliban the albino mutant tracker is quite refreshing indeed.

•This is Marvel's most realistic movie to date. Like Batman Begins. Well, you could argue that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was realistic, but I think you got "realistic" confused with "dark and gritty". Of course mutants aren't real, but if they were, this film would probably depict it better than the stylized look and feel of the preceding films in the X-Men franchise.

•I thought Wolverine can't die. I thought his healing factor made him close to immortal, and that there's only a few ways he can actually be killed. So why is he dying in this movie? Adamantium poisoning? Okay, so his healing factor kept the adamantium poison at bay all this time? Sure, I'll buy that. But why did his healing factor fail in the first place?

•What I would've wanted was more of a back story. So this movie takes place in 2029, but how did they end up there? How did Logan get into the limousine business? How did Caliban and Professor X end up in Mexico? I mean, why Mexico? Also, there was no sign of a Mexican-American wall, so does that mean President Trump reneges on his promise to keep the Mexicans out? Or maybe he didn't get reelected? Or does that mean Trump gets impeached?

•Is there some sort of demand for characters like Eleven from Stranger Things? You know, the weird, creepy girl who's actually nice were it not for the circumstances in her life that forced her to become feared as a weapon? I mean, don't get me wrong, Dafne Keen gave a good performance as Laura, even if she spent most of her screen time in silence. She's got that rage-y angst down, and I'm not sure if she's hit puberty yet.

This is actually a very cool costume, in my opinion.

•At one point in the X-Men universe, Charles Xavier was the most powerful mutant in the world. What happened? How was he reduced to this withered old man that Hugh Jackman can carry up a flight of stairs? It seems the Professor is now suffering from Alzheimer's. It's kind of strange that a mind  as powerful as the Professor's can't fend off a mind-debilitating disease. I mean, if I had Charles Xavier's mind, I'd use it to command my cells to regenerate. But I guess that would be a tall order, seeing that he can't even command his legs to walk.

•Boyd Holbrook plays a bad guy in this film. I liked him in Narcos, where he plays a good agent with an even better moustache. Here in Logan, he plays Donald Pierce, the leader of the mutant-hunting gang known as the Reavers, and he sheds off his good guy-image while retaining his facial hair. No, Pierce is not a mutant. He's a cyborg who hates mutants.

•So who is that younger Wolverine? It's probably X-23. Wait, no–X-23 is Laura. This younger Logan is X-24. And to pull this off, director James Mangold utilised the method that's been growing in popularity and will probably be a game-changer in the future, despite the ethics controversy after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I'm talking about the use of digital actors. Yes, they used a digital Logan in this one. Actually, for the scenes they were together, sometimes it's X-24 that's CGI, and sometimes it's Old Man Logan. It's just so seamless, you don't know who's who. And that's really how it's supposed to be.

•I noticed that the scene on the highway had trailers/container vans that seemed to drive themselves. Are those for real? They just looked like huge boxes moving across the highway. And also, good job, Professor, for calming the horses down with your mental telepathy. That would make you a...drumroll... horse whisperer. Yeah, I know. That was forced.

•Those kids in North Dakota, are they the New Mutants? You know, because they're new (to the franchise), and they're mutants. But seriously, there's a comic line called The New Mutants. So how do we know these kids are the same New Mutants? Rictor. Yes, that young man who seems to be their leader. Actually, introducing these guys is a set-up to their upcoming spin-off movie. That's right. The New Mutants are getting their own film.

•So while setting the stage for the spin-off franchise, might as well introduce that spin-off's new villain, which would be Dr. Rice, played by Richard E. Grant. Although Dr. Rice plays second fiddle to Boyd Holbrook's main villain, he is by no means still despicable, and we'll probably get to see more of his villainy when the spin-off movie comes out.

"Wait, I haven't done a Rogue-Jean Grey threesome yet."

Logan. USA. 2017.

Original rating: 8.4/10
Not-so-comic book treatment: +0.1
Professor X's powerful seizures: +0.1
Dafne Keen's annoying voice: -0.1
Fat black kid with the power of electricity: +0.1
Logan's death: +0.1
Chrysler limo: +0.1


Random Thoughts: La La Land, or Stop Showing Off, Ryan Gosling!

*Random Thoughts is a new style of reviewing we're trying out, so this blog can release reviews faster. In case you don't know, reviewing films is time-consuming, and I don't get paid to do this.

"Let me show you how to dance the 'Asereje'."

•An alliterative title about L.A., a.k.a. the City of Angels. It sounds playful and whimsical, which actually helps set the tone for the entire picture. This is actually a modern throwback to old Hollywood. It's like Singin' in the Rain, but with smartphones.

•That opening sequence on the freeway flyover was brilliant. Very well-choreographed, not just with the dancing, but with the camerawork as well. I bet they had to shut the road down, which would have made that sequence quite expensive to shoot.

•This is not a proper musical per se. I mean, it's not a musical in the Broadway tradition. It's more of like a love story with some singing and dancing.

•Ryan Gosling has really great comic timing. I've already noticed this in The Nice Guys, and I'm so glad he gets to unleash some of his comedy here, for the benefit of those who haven't seen his movie with Russell Crowe.

•Okay, so Ryan Gosling plays the piano. Damn you and your good looks.

•Is Emma Stone a natural redhead? And is it just me, or do redheads look good in any colour? Okay, I googled it, and she's a natural blonde.

•Ryan Gosling dances, too? Fuck you. I am kidding. You are my new man-crush.

•Okay, the singing wasn't bad. But it wasn't great singing, either. It's like driving a car. Most people can get their vehicle from point A to point B, but that's not the sign of a good driver. A good driver can get to point A to point B with style and grace. Much like hitting the right notes doesn't necessarily make you a good singer. Yeah, Stone and Gosling may have hit the right notes, but come on.

•Remember that scene when they had a fight about achieving their dreams? Well, a true musical would've done that scene in song. If this were a true musical, it would've done a lot of exposition in song. Just saying.

•Why is John Legend here? Did he write all the songs and the score? Like what Pharrell did in Hidden Figures? Ah, no. Google says Justin Hurwitz wrote La La Land's score. Thanks, Google, for answering my rhetorical questions.

•I loved that scene towards the end when Emma Stone and her husband went into Seb's. There's something wonderful about "what could've been" scenes. You know why? Because they are alternate timelines. Parallel universes. That's fifth dimension stuff right there, man. And I always find that mind-blowing.

When the director says "Jump", you say "How high?"

La La Land. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 7.7/10
Cinematography: +0.1
Ryan Gosling's comic timing: +0.1
Dance sequences: +0.1
Opening sequence: +0.1
Ryan Gosling's musical talent: -0.1
Tap dancing sequence: +0.1
Not enough J.K. Simmons: -0.1
Damien Chazelle's directing: +0.1
Final rating: 8.1/10


Random Thoughts: Hidden Figures, or Why Haven't We Heard of These Ladies Before?

*Random Thoughts is a new style of reviewing we're trying out, so this blog can release reviews faster. In case you don't know, reviewing films is time-consuming, and I don't get paid to do this.

Spot the hidden figure. Clue: she's not wearing white.

•I am a sucker for biopics. There's just something about stories that you know are true. Although I know filmmakers are notorious for taking creative liberties, but still, biopics are possibly the only exception to the general rule that "books are better than movies".

•The real gem here is that this story was hidden. But why did they hide it in the first place? This is truly a phenomenal story, told with the backdrop of race and gender segregation. And the best part is, there's three women being honoured here: a brilliant mathematician, an excellent engineer, and and awesome programmer.

•We seem to have forgotten about Kevin Costner. Why do I feel like it's been a long time since I saw him on the big screen? Oh, wait... he was in the Superman reboot. But this feels like the first time in a while since he really showcased his acting skills.

•Was NASA really the first to segregate restrooms? If they were, then bravo. Apparently, the only thing that can rid America of racism is the space race. Good job, Kevin Costner, for swinging that sledgehammer.

•Speaking of restrooms... that Taraji P. Henson monologue, though. The one about restrooms. That's a guaranteed Oscar clip right there.

•And speaking of great speeches, Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)'s court speech is awesome. Yes, being first is important. Landmark cases always go down in history, as well as the landmark decisions that turn the tide.

•Nice soundtrack. Kind of sounds like Pharrell. But probably not. I think this is '60s music. It really sounds like Pharrell, though. Shouldn't they be using music from the decade? Okay, let me just wait for the end credits. Oh, it's actually Pharrell. With Hans Zimmer. Again.

•Ah, single mothers... you can't help but appreciate their strength. They can withstand a lot. How about couloured single mothers? Wait, how about... coloured single mothers in the 1960s? These women are probably the strongest human beings in the world.

•There's an awesome line from astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) that best sums up this entire film. "Let's get the girl to check the numbers... the smart one. And if she says they're good, I'm ready to go." He didn't say "the black one" or "the coloured one". He said "the smart one". Race has nothing to do with the numbers. But it's nice to know that a white man would not launch until a coloured woman verified the math. Sweet.

•I wonder if this will be like another Top Gun. The year that film came out, applications for the Air Force significantly increased. I wonder if Hidden Figures will also spark a sudden interest in mathematics and aeronautics in the coloured community. Or maybe in the United States in general. Is it still right to use the word "coloured" in this day and age?

•I'm happy about Jim Parsons. His lanky physique and geeky manner of speech has forever pegged him as the ultimate dork, no thanks to The Big Bang Theory. I thought he'd be forever shoehorned into roles like that. Glad this film was able to bring out the despicable side of him. He's still not super-villain material, though. Just super-douche material.

•In the past, "computer" was a title for a person. Like "accountant", or "chef". Nowadays, it seems really weird to call a person a computer, because we've reduced computer to a machine. Oh, how time flies.

"Are you a Windows or a Mac?"
"Are you Captain America?"

Hidden Figures. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 7.7/10
Octavia Spencer's bitchiness: +0.1
Downplaying Kirsten Dunst: +0.1
Soundtrack: +0.1
Final rating: 8.0/10


Random Thoughts: The Lego Batman Movie, or The Best Batman Film Ever

*Random Thoughts is a new style of reviewing we're trying out, so this blog can release reviews faster. In case you don't know, reviewing films is time-consuming, and I don't get paid to do this.

I just love the scratches on Batman's helmet.

•This is the most meta of Batman films in the canon. It's a Batman film about being Batman.

•There's a rundown of Batman villains from the comics, with the common ones such as the Joker, Bane, Harley Quinn, the Riddler (voiced by Conan O'Brien), and Two-Face (voiced by Billy Dee Williams), and Scarecrow, among others, and there's also the weird, obscure ones like Crazy Quilt, Polka Dot Man, Eraser, Condiment King, and Zebra Man, among others.

•There's a rundown of all Batman movies, from 2016, 2012, 2008, 2005, 1997, 1995, 1992, 1989, and all the way back to that weird one from 1966.

•The movie also shows a whole lot of villains from the Warner Bros. catalogue. Is it the Warner Bros. catalogue, or the Lego catalogue? Probably the latter. There's a shark that's probably from Jaws, velociraptors from Jurassic Park, agents from The Matrix, Sauron (voiced by Jemaine Clement) from Lord of the Rings, Voldemort from Harry Potter, and Daleks from Doctor Who. It's Daleks, okay, not "British robots".

•Could've sworn the Joker was voiced by Mark Hamill. Turned out to be Zach Galifianakis. Well, Hamill already voiced the Joker in the animated Batman films, so having him voice the Lego version is highly unlikely, come to think of it.

•Could've sworn Voldemort was voiced by Ralph Fiennes. Turned out to be Eddie Izzard. I just thought since Fiennes is already voicing Alfred Pennyworth, then he probably threw in Voldemort's voice for free. And why is Wingardium Leviosa the only spell Voldemort knows?

•Could've sworn Robin was voiced by Jesse Eisenberg. Turned out to be Michael Cera. Oh, well. Same mold.

•You'll know this is a spinoff of The Lego Movie not just because Will Arnett still voices Batman, but because of the concept of Master Builders (not "Masturbators", you pervert). In the Lego universe, a Master Builder is someone who can mix and match Lego parts to form totally new creations, such as...

•The Scuttler. If the other Batman films had vehicles like the Tumbler and the Batpod, this film has the Scuttler. It looks like a robot or mecha version of a biological bat, which looks a bit clumsy when standing and walking like real bats do, but which can transform into a magnificent flying bat-jet.

•The sountrack is great. There are some original songs aimed at the younger kids, while there are also some old songs used. I particularly loved the use of Cutting Crew's "I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight", which plays when Bruce Wayne sets eyes on Barbara Gordon (voiced by Rosario Dawson) for the first time. Also, there's a very cheesy Lego minifig dance number at the end.

•This isn't just a comedy about children's toys. Beneath the bricks, there actually lie themes of relationships, family, and friendship, things which the Batman films and comics fail to address adequately.

•I can imagine the merchandising. I mean, the Scuttler? Shut up and take my money, Lego.

•One of the most hilarious moments in the film for me was Bruce Wayne's family portrait he has hanging on his wall. It's a selfie with his parents outside the theatre... near Crime Alley. That's right, a photo of his parents right before they died. I mean, would you do that if you were in Batman's shoes?Keep a photo of your folks right before they're murdered? Okay, it's probably just me, but I found it hilarious. Yeah, it was probably just me.

•The most laugh-out-loud joke in this film, however, is Batman's password to his computer (voiced by Siri). And that password is: Iron Man sucks.

"There will be a sequel, right?"

The Lego Batman Movie. USA. 2017.

Original rating: 8/10
Stop-motion animation style: +0.1
Homage to the '60s "Bam! Pow!" sound effects: +0.1
Jerry Maguire scenes: +0.1
Batman and Joker's almost-gay bromance: +0.1
Final rating: 8.4/10


Random Thoughts: Saving Sally, o Napakaganda Lang Ni Rhian Ramos

"Wanna come with me and make tusok-tusok the fishball?"

*Ang Random Thoughts ay isang bagong style ng pag-review na aking susubukan para mabilis lumabas ang mga review ng blog na ito. Kasi masyadong time-consuming ang pagsulat ng isang proper review at hindi naman ako binabayaran para dito.

  • •Nice, may animated short film pa sa simula. Pumi-Pixar ang Metro Manila Film Festival.
  • •Ay, wait. Medyo chaka ang short film. Parang student project lang ng college student.
  • •Wow. A Filipino film na may live-action at animation. Finally.
  • •Una kong naalala na pelikulang ganito ay Mary Poppins (na ina-arkila pa namin dati sa Betamax). Tapos n'ung '80s, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Tapos n'ung '90s, Space Jam. Tapos iba pang mga Looney Tunes films. Bakit sa Pilipinas, ngayon lang?
  • •Ganda talaga ni Rhian Ramos.
  • •Medyo nakaka-off talaga 'yung Taglish (or more accurately, Ingglisero) na dialogue. Parang hindi natural. Pa-konyo masyado. Pero that's just me.
  • •Consistent naman ang munduhan ng animation.
  • •Hello, Kuya Bodjie. N'ung bata ako, ikaw ang aking idea ng pagiging isang mabait na tao. Parang tingin ko sa'yo ay hindi marunong magalit at hindi gagawa ng masama. Sana mas marami ka pang pelikula at raket para hindi ka mamroblema sa pera, kasi ambait mo.
  • •Bakit parang hindi masyado evident ang pagtanda ni Sally at ni Martin? Dapat from high school to college, 'di ba? Parang ganoon pa rin sila katanda. Humaba lang buhok n'ung guy.
  • •Ten years in the making itong pelikulang 'to? E bakit parang hindi tumanda ang mga artista? Paano 'yun, ten years ago sinimulan na nila ang animation, tapos mga a year ago lang shinoot ang live action parts?

This is how UP Diliman look like on a normal day.

Saving Sally. Philippines. 2016.

Original na rating: 6.8
Animation: +0.2
Animation style: +0.1
Pa-conyo dialogu: -0.1
Final na rating: 7.0/10


Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or Six Reasons This Is the Best Star Wars Film In a Long Time

Female leads and Latino guys are fast becoming a Star Wars staple.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD (But you should've already seen this film by now)

Ahh, Rogue One. The first film in the Star Wars franchise that's not about the Skywalker family. Also described by director Gareth Edwards in The Director's Cut podcast as "the District 9 of the Star Wars universe", in terms of having a relatively low budget but delivering the most bang for the buck. And indeed, it does deliver.

But like all films with a huge fan base, there will be complaints. Some complain about the different types of stormtroopers that are never seen again after Episode IV. Some complain about the morally gray characters, like the supposedly good rebels who kill indiscriminately. All I can say is, ignore them. Well, if you're a true Star Wars fan, you'd watch this film regardless of the reviews. Just as if you're a true Star Wars fan, you would've recognised Mon Mothma from the trailer. Yes, I'm talking to you, weird guy with a Kylo Ren lightsaber in the theatre.

That said, here now are six reasons why Rogue One is possibly the best Star Wars story since, oh I don't know, The Empire Strikes Back.

K2SO is my new favourite Star Wars droid. I can't say I had an old favourite. Maybe Chopper from Star Wars Rebels. Or BB8. But they're astromechs, incapable of human speech. And I've always found C3PO to be a bit too effeminate for my tastes. And now we have K2SO, a witty, sarcastic, funny, and badass former Imperial droid refurbished for rebellion purposes. Almost all the laugh-out-loud moments from Rogue One were uttered by K2SO. Oh, and he's voiced by Alan Tudyk, who was practically given free rein to ad lib his way throughout the entire production. And that is the reason why Alan Tudyk is one of my favourite voice actors of all time. Ever.

Disney did good after having Tudyk voice Moana's voiceless chicken.

All the Easter eggs
Like I said, this film is a fanboy's wet dream come true. You can actually play a game while watching this, something like "Spot the Easter Egg". Let me rattle off some from the top of my head. The Mon Calamari fleet admirals (not Ackbar, sadly). The blue milk. Chopper, Artoo, and Threepio's cameo. That cantina duo from Mos Eisley (the one whose arm got sliced off by Obi-Wan Kenobi). Mon Mothma. Bail Organa. General Jan Dodonna. "I have a bad feeling about this." The rebel pilots Red Leader and Gold Leader. And of course, the special cameos of...

Chopper on the far left. Mon Mothma on the far right. Nerdgasm achieved.

Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia
While I consider this a real treat, the resurrection of late actor Peter Cushing has drawn flak from both fans and non-fans alike for the ethics of using a dead actor to reprise a role. But for that decision, Edwards is not solely to blame: Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) wizard John Knoll (who also wrote the story for Rogue One) can be held equally liable. The Star Wars flicks have always pushed the technological envelope, especially in terms of special effects, and the CG resurrection of deceased actors may or may not catch on, but you have to hand it to the special effects team. Well this should hardly be any surprise, seeing as John Knoll co-created Photoshop with his brother. Having Tarkin and Princess Leia in here is basically just like Photoshopping them in a motion picture.

A younger Leia browsing on her smart phone. Like young people nowadays.

The most badass Darth Vader ever
Some not-so fans would probably discredit Darth Vader's power as being not-so powerful, what with his labored breathing, limited mobility, and lumbering lightsaber swings. Some of them would even argue that Darth Maul would be the most badass Sith, and that the only thing Vader has going for him would be his use of the Force to asphyxiate his enemies. But Rogue One shows us what slow lightsaber swings can do to an entire ship of rebels. It can still make them pee their pants in fear, apparently. And the best part is it's still James Earl Jones's voice. May Darth Vader haunt the nightmares of generations more to come.

"I find your lack of fear disturbing."

It's a stand-alone film
This is possibly the best aspect of this film. Remember how greedy the Hollywood studio system has become? Bleeding franchises dry, adapting young adult novels left and right, splitting one book into two movies, that kind of thing? Well with Rogue One, Disney is seemingly reassuring us that "Look, we're not after your money. We're not going to give you three movies about one story when a single film will do." That's nice, Disney. But what they're really saying is, "Look, we bought the rights to this modern mythology that we all connect to, like the twenty-first century's Iliad, and we know you fanboys will eat up anything we release under the Star Wars banner. So this stand-alone film? This is nothing. We'll give you a hundred stand-alone films set in the Star Wars universe. And you'll all watch this like the desperate nerd losers that you are." That's pretty mean, Disney. But I have six words for you: Shut. Up. And. Take. My. Money.

Even Forest Whitaker's eyelid stands alone. Get it?

And finally... (spoiler)

Everybody dies
Yes, so sorry to disappoint you. There will be no other Jyn Erso movie, which means no more of Felicity Jones's face on IMAX. This is, after all, based on the opening crawl of Episode IV, about how "rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR". This is the story of those rebel spies. What they did was nothing short of heroic, having turned the tide for the Battle of Yavin. But where were those spies in A New Hope? Were they honoured with medals? Nope. If anyone deserved medals, it would be Jyn Erso, et al. But since the only one who got medals in that film were a rookie farmboy-turned-pilot, a smuggler, and a Wookie, we can only assume that everyone who had a hand in stealing the Death Star plans died. And this film is our way of honouring them.

Good luck killing Riz Ahmed's career, though. This guy's everywhere.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 8.0/10
No Felicity Jones nudity: -0.1
Mads Mikkelsen: +0.1
Riz Ahmed: +0.1
Alan Tudyk's ad libs: +0.1
Diego Luna's sexy accent: +0.1
Guy Henry as Moff Tarkin: +0.1
All the Easter eggs: +0.25
Ben Mendelsohn: +0.1
No George Lucas creative involvement: -0.1
Final rating: 8.65/10


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