With the tagline "A Star Wars Story", this first spin-off from the saga isn't actually a stand-alone movie. It requires some understanding of the context as it chronicles events that lead directly into 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope. It's also a seriously rousing action film with a riveting cast of characters and a surprising willingness to embrace even the darkest elements of storytelling. In other words, it might be the first Star Wars movie made specifically for grown-ups.
It opens as the Empire is systematically crushing the rebellion, leaving them wondering if there's any point to continuing the fight. Rumours are swirling that the Empire is building a massive Death Star, and rebel Jyn (Felicity Jones) discovers that it was designed by her long-lost father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who sends her a message saying that he left a flaw in the system specifically for the rebels to exploit. So she joins a team to contact him, led by Cassian (Diego Luna), who doubts that Galen is on their side. They're accompanied by pilot Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and the sarcastic robot K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), plus the blind wannabe Jedi Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and his battling sidekick Baze (Jiang Wen). And as their mission goes rogue, they come up against the slimy Imperial Director Orson (Ben Mendelson) and the vicious Darth Vader (again voiced by James Earl Jones).
Director Gareth Edwards (Monster) packs the movie with visual references to A New Hope, cleverly matching the design work by avoiding fakey digital effects in lieu of more practical, battle-scared models and lively settings on a series of new planets and a familiar one. This gives the film an electric atmosphere that's edgy and unpredictable even though we all know exactly how this mission has to end. At the beginning, the plot feels a bit splintered, but the strands come together with power, building a gnawing sense of momentum and some real gravitas along the way.
Continue reading: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone Star Wars film which acts as an important subplot to the original 1977 movie 'A New Hope'. In the man film, Luke and his uncle take ownership of a droid sold to them and as Luke cleans the droid up he hears a section of a message left for someone called Obi-Wan Kenobi pleading for his help. Luke decides to find the only man he knows by the name of Kenobi and his mission turns into the story we all know.
The data on R2-D2 memory is the story of Rouge One. The Rebel Alliance are aware that the Galactic Empire are building a humongous super machine capable of destroy vast areas of space and one of their rebel fighters might just hold the key to more information than she knows.
Jin Erso is a loyal member of the Alliance though she often acts as a lone rebel and takes risks greater than her superiors would like. When a fraction of the Alliance learns that Erso's father played a crucial role in building the device she knows that she must track him down.
The Galaxy is on the brink of a major war being won by dangerous rulers and only a few fighters stand between the Emperor and his unrelenting army which is constantly surging peaceful plants. The destruction and invasion of any planet who won't agree to the Empire's stringent regulations is all but destroyed.
Jyn Erso is one such rebel fighter who is willing to go to any lengths to fulfil her mission, often landing her in trouble with her seniors but her independent demeanour means that she might be a perfect candidate for an imperative mission - the failure of which could mean the end of the galaxy as its citizens know.
Jyn and a small team of fellow rebels must steal plans for the Emperor's newest and deadliest weapon, The Death Star.
Continue: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer
Jimmy Smits - The Paley Center For Media's Tribute To African-American Achievements In Television at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel - Arrivals - New York, New York, United States - Wednesday 18th May 2016
After five long years, the Clone Wars are still raging across the galaxy. Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), the Separatist leader and his minion, General Grievous, have captured the Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) are tasked with his rescue. Once the chancellor is saved and Dooku is defeated, the location of General Grievous is discovered. If the Jedi can send a strike force to capture or kill Grievous, then they will be able to end the war entirely. But there is a darkness growing within Anakin, and the Jedi Order are slowly starting to become aware of it. But as the power of the Chancellor continues to grow, and his hold over Anakin grows too, leading to a revelation which will forever change the galaxy, and lead to a greater, more destructive war.
Continue: Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith Trailer
Jimmy Smits - The stars of the hit FX series ‘Sons of Anarchy’ were photographed on the Red Carpet at the TCL Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, ahead of the premiere for the seventh and final series of the show. - Saturday 6th September 2014
Jimmy Smits - Ahead of the premiere for FX’s seventh and final series of ‘Sons of Anarchy’, the stars were photographed on the Red Carpet at the TCL Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. - Saturday 6th September 2014
Charlie Hunnam, Jimmy Smits and Mark Boone Junior - Charlie Hunnam films an action scene where he is involved in a fight while filming Sons Of Anarchy. Co-star Jimmy Smits is also on the set. - Los Angeles, California, United States - Monday 14th July 2014
Fortunately writer-director Garcia is very careful to avoid wallowing in sentimentality.
Elizabeth (Watts) is a shark-like lawyer who easily seduces her new boss Paul (Jackson). She's had a difficult emotional life, and prefers to keep things under control, managing her friendships and relationships with icy distance.
Continue reading: Mother And Child Review
Adoption is a life changing situation for all involved.The woman who feels she must give up her baby must find a way of life after giving up her child, the adoptee ofter goes through months of unknowing before finally being given a new family member and the child often grows up feeling loved by their adoptive parents but wanting to discover more about their birth parents. Mother and Child is a moving tale of three women all in very different situations but all connected through a similar circumstance. Adoption.
Continue: Mother & Child Trailer
Yikes! This marginal flick puts detective Mel Gibson in charge of investigating the murder of a billionnaire's son in a wacky hotel overrun by mental patients who can't afford the regular nut bin. And well, that's about all there is to tell, except that the title was once The Billion Dollar Hotel. That's a big downgrade.
Continue reading: The Million Dollar Hotel Review
Spider-Man's hype and box office may have stolen some of Episode II's thunder, but Attack of the Clones finally arrives, three years after its predecessor, The Phantom Menace, and picking up the story 10 years after that installment let off.
The story is considerably more convoluted this time out. Former Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) is now a senator in the Republic, and nefarious parties are repeatedly attempting to have her assassinated. Assigned to protect her are Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and a growing-up Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), now Obi-Wan's apprentice. Soon, Jedi bosses Yoda and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) split the two up: Obi-Wan is tasked with tracking down the bounty hunter who tried to kill Amidala (which turns out to be Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), father/clone of young Boba Fett). Anakin is tasked with serving as Amidala's bodyguard.
Obi-Wan scours a "secret" watery planet (there discovering a massing clone army allegedly purchased for the Republic ten years ago), and then tracks Jango to another planet, where he finds the opposition led by (try not to snicker) Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), who is amassing a droid army for war against the Republic.
Meanwhile, Amidala and Anakin fall in love (awwwwwwwwwwwww), but since she's a politician and he's a Jedi (bound to supress emotion -- which just ain't takin'), they have to keep their romance a secret (just like in The Bodyguard!).
Side stories galore take characters all over the galaxy far, far away... including the inevitable stop on Tatooine to help Anakin's mother and long spells on Coruscant, the 100%-urban capital planet.
On to the nagging questions: Foremost, Jar-Jar is back, and his part is not insubstantial; the character is as grating as ever. But all eyes are on Christensen, and he fills the shoes of Skywalker admirably, though he has apparently been given the sole direction to act like a really bratty teenager.
The use of CGI is on overload, and while many of the sets (real or digital) are quite successful, many of the backdrops are not -- notably the cheesy oceans on the clone planet and an especially flat cathedral-like hallway Yoda scoots through. When the CGI interacts with real-world elements (like when Anakin rides a fat sheep-like creature), the effect is about as believable as Barney being a real dinosaur.
Also out of place is the movie's silly patriotism, with frequent pontification about loving democracy (and this from a former queen -- albeit an "elected" queen... uh, okay) and the Republic. One speech actually includes the earnestly corny line, "The day we stop believing in democracy is the day we lose it!" I say the day Star Wars becomes nothing more than a political platform is the day we lose it.
At 2 1/2 hours in length, this installment is a bit long-winded and bladder-challenging (compared to 2:13 for Episode I and a little over 2 hours for A New Hope), but the decision to go "epic" at least makes room for lots of action when Amidala and Anakin aren't busy smooching. The action starts right at the beginning, with an impressive skycar chase through Coruscant, and ends with an equally smashing "big battle scene" that easily outdoes the one in Menace. Best of all, though, is the already famous Yoda light-saber battle, which is as funny as it is thrilling. That said, the pod race in Phantom is still probably the best action sequence in the series so far.
Less impressive are the talky parts, which haltingly attempt to create a romance between Amidala and Anakin. The love story just doesn't work and it's very awkward, maybe because George Lucas is simply out of touch with the realities of youthful romance, or maybe because the leads didn't have chemistry. I don't know for sure. I do know, however, that if Anakin Skywalker is going to play the cool outcast he shouldn't act like a baby around his would-be girlfriend. And Amidala's 11th hour confession of love comes completely out of left field, a necessary plot point because we know she has to eventually bear two kids by the guy.
In fact, much of Episode II feels like it's ticking off items to make sure we get to the appropriate state of the galaxy by the end of 2005's Episode III. There's still a long way to go -- Anakin has to turn evil and disfigured; Amidala has to have two kids, split them up, and have one become the princess of a planet still not introduced in the series; Yoda and Obi-Wan have to become hermits; and then there's the matter of the Death Star, which has to be built. Episode III is either going to be a complete disaster or a work of genius.
Altogether, the movie is enjoyable despite its nagging script inadequacies and crummy "down" scenes. The action is fun, the acting is good enough, and the direction is capable, if not inspired. If you're a die-hard Star Wars fan, you will like this better than Episode I (though I grade them roughly equal), but it still won't hold a candle to the earlier films.
But chances are when it's said and done, you aren't going to be talking about Episode II for its good things. An impromptu conversation with another filmcritic.com staffer set us off on a number of incongruities and simply baffling moments that might be pointing to Lucas's senility. For example: When did R2-D2 become able to fly? When did Obi-Wan become afraid of flying (or afraid of anything for that matter)? What's with Jimmy Smits and his Elizabethan collar? Since when does a Jedi Knight have to go to a library to figure out where a planet is? And why didn't Lucas get the hint about Jar-Jar Binks the first time around?
Mysteries of the universe, I tell ya.
The DVD answers few of these mysteries, with eight deleted scenes (see Natalie Portman lose her accent!) and various effects-oriented documentaries. There's even a trailer for a mockumentary about R2-D2. Amusing.
Teddy bears' picnic.
The climactic lightsaber duel in "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" has to be seen to be believed. It puts the awesome Darth Maul/Obi-Wan fight in "The Phantom Menace" to shame, and it's one of the big pluses in a mixed blessing of a movie that is a vast improvement over its immediate predecessor, but sometimes in fits and starts.
Any fan will have the same reaction to this showdown: As it's about to begin, you'll laugh, because with the characters involved the idea seems almost absurd. Then you'll cheer, because George Lucas knows you're laughing, and plays into it beautifully. Then your mouth will drop open in amazement. How did he pull this off? This is so cool!
Suffice it to say, this scene -- and the huge battle that surrounds it as the fabled Clone War begins -- is worth the price of admission all by itself.
Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones Review
It's a shame "Price of Glory" is such an elementary piece of utterly predictable, movie-of-the-week style filmmaking, because this boxing-themed, strife-defeating family drama certainly has its heart in the right place.
A throwback to the kind of medicinal matinee movies made for Sunday afternoon outings with the whole family, this Jimmy Smits vehicle is a sincere -- if sanctimonious -- affair about a former, failed middleweight contender living vicariously through his three sons, bruisers-in-training all.
A proud but temperamental, assembly-line union man with a do-it-yourself training ring in his back yard, Smits is a stern daddy who drives his boys hard. His beautiful wife with shampoo commercial hair (Maria Del Mar) wants the boys to go to college, but Pop thinks they could all be champs, and he's determined to manage each of them to a title.
Continue reading: Price Of Glory Review
With the tagline "A Star Wars Story", this first spin-off from the saga isn't actually...
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone Star Wars film which acts as...
The Galaxy is on the brink of a major war being won by dangerous rulers...
After five long years, the Clone Wars are still raging across the galaxy. Count Dooku...
An excellent ensemble makes the most of a multi-strand female-centred film that drifts very close...
Adoption is a life changing situation for all involved.The woman who feels she must give...
You need neither a deep appreciation for author Jane Austen nor an understanding of her...
Father knows best. Ex-boxer Arturo Ortega (Jimmy Smits, Bless the Child) has placed his...
All good things must come to an end, and all sort-of mediocre things eventually peter...