Tag Archives: Revenge

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm – An Evolution of Gameplay and Story

      “Heart of the Swarm” improves off “Wings of Liberty” in most places where it counts. The story has more going on, the characters are more interesting and the side missions are really enjoyable as well as the hero leveling system that the game gives in how Kerrigan grows through the game. You are given choices that matter and affect gameplay, which is more than “Wings of Liberty” was ever able to do. I’ll get into more of what I mean later in the review, but this is a game that improves upon the original in almost every way.

The downsides are really in how there is too much emphasis on Emperor Mengsk as the villain and not enough on the threat of the Xel’Naga, which sadly hurts the overall arc of the Trilogy.

The story picks up where “Wings of Liberty” left off with a de-infested Kerrigan with Raynor’s Raiders and Valerian Mengsk. When Dominion forces attack she is separated from them all and when she believes Raynor to be killed goes on a revenge mission against Mengsk as she takes control of the Swarm and grows once more into her role as the Queen of Blades.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Universe – I love the Starcraft Universe and in this game we get so much more of it. From Narud’s experiments and the infested resurrected Stukov and the Hybrids from the last game, from the Primal Zerg and the Zerg who witnessed the Xel’Naga come but only cared about becoming stronger and better and did not care for the greater war in the Universe as Amon created them on the Primal Zerg world…from the power of the Dominion and recruitment of the Brood Mothers as Kerrigan re-establishes herself as the Queen of Blades. I love this Universe and this game does nothing but enrich it. We also get to play as Raynor’s Raiders taking on a Mercenary army with their Battlecruiser in order to find out where Raynor is trapped and so that he can rescued. The world is so wonderfully dark and complicated.

Evolution Missions – On the way of taking control of the Swarm once more Abathur, Kerrigan’s Evolution Master gives missions where you can shape Zerg into different strains. Each choice is permanent but their are pros and cons to each. You can have faster and weaker units that can fly, greater number of units or stronger individual units with greater regeneration depending on the choice you make…and on those missions you take out Dominion or Feral Zerg forces. They are so much fun.

The Nature of the Swarm – The Swarm is change and evolution. This is one reason Kerrigan works so well as the leader because she is constant change and adaptation and now being free of the Overmind she no longer as Amon’s influence on her (that she originally got through the original purpose of the Zerg and the Overmind). It is powerful seeing her take charge of the swarm and see how their primary drive to live, change, evolve and grow. The Zerg are not static and this game really shows how easy it is for the Swarm to grow and become one of the strongest powers in the Universe. It is in their nature and when they have direction from the Queen of Blades the Overmind or one who knows them, they are unstoppable.

Kerrigan and her Team – Kerrigan has my favorite Team out of the 3 games. I like how Abathur is a selfish being that only sees the point in making things more efficent regardless of cost (so weird, awful and alien) how Zagara only values strength and bettering the Swarm and serving Kerrigan how Stukov has no one so only wants acceptance and the Swarm is the only acceptance he has now that he is dead to humanity and Dehaka and his obsession with essence and his drive to survive and change through anything.

Leveling Kerrigan and Shaping the Swarm – The gameplay is fun and part of the reason it is so much fun is you power up Kerrigan and her abilities and these abilities influence her as hero unit and also your base and how quickly you can build or what you start. She is a powerhouse and the right upgrades make her an unstoppable force on her own or one who can sustain the Swarm and have a large group. The Swarm is also shaped from the Evolution Missions stated above too.

Okay: The Power of Emperor Mengsk – I’m putting Emperor Mengsk’s power and the Dominon as okay and not a pro for two reasons. The first is that he should have been weaker after Valerian took half his fleet and second Kerrigan destroyed his forces on more than one occasion. This game happens just after he got his butt kicked last game. The reason I don’t put him as a con is he did have Narud and via Narud Amon backing him so he was powerful that way and there was a good amount of time between “Brood War” and “Wings of Liberty.” For these reason I won’t put him as a con.

Not Enough Xel’Naga Exploration – We get a glimpse of the nature of the Xel’Naga on Zerus (the Zerg homeworld) and when Narud’s true form a changeling is revealed and what dialogue he gives us. Otherwise they are an abstract threat even though we the prophecy of Kerrigan’s role going on and really needed more in the lead up to whatever her future is.

The Narud and Amon Payoff – Narud is the mini-boss before Arcturus Mengsk and it is only over the course of 3 missions. He really should have been a bigger deal. Mengsk makes more sense narratively but for the overall game Narud has been the greatest threat of them all. He is the reason the UED no longer exists as a threat, he is the reason the Protoss continued to fall apart and his master Amon is the reason the Zerg almost destroyed everything fulfilling their role in the big picture. With better writing, he really should have been the end boss or played a much bigger part in the story. He’d been around for so long why did he suddenly stop manipulating the Zerg when he clearly still had control of some Protoss forces, Moebius and the elements of the Dominion. Narud and the Xel’Naga deserved better and I think Blizzard didn’t know what to do with them after setting them up so well in “Brood War” and the original “Starcraft.”

The Cons: Raynor and Revenge as Primary Motivation – I think the writers meant it to mirror Raynor’s love for Kerrigan as his motivation in “Wings of Liberty” but it sucked that Kerrigan was turned into that as well. I never got those vibes from her in any of the original games and making her The Bride from “Kill Bill” was fine but her best character moments are when we see her accepting her role as the Queen of Blades and finding motivation beyond revenge as she cares for and shapes the Swarm. That was where she was amazing as we already got her revenge story back in “Brood War” and it was handled so much better.

I really enjoyed “Heart of the Swarm.” This is a game for all the flaws it has (largely based in story with Emperor Mengsk being this unstoppable force who still continues to lose through 2 games) and the lack of focus on Narud, Amon and the Xel’Naga makes the upcoming threat feel only so strong. It also sets up Kerrigan as the Chosen One which is stupid storytelling in general, even though I like that Kerrigan’s flaws are all her own. she is ruthless and driven and a little bit of a sociopath but it makes her compelling because it is her mind that shapes the Swarm and we see how she makes the Zerg Swarm less of an all consuming force and more a precision weapon focused on perfection and change. For these reasons I would rate it higher than “Wings of Liberty.” There is better payoff storywise, better gameplay and the campaign missions are a lot of fun and honestly, my favorite heroes are the Heroes from the Swarm and how wonderfully alien they all are. This is another one of my favorite games.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season 2 – A Jumbled But Decent Season That Explores Letting Go and Grief

    “Legends of Tomorrow” is an interesting show to write about. This is a show that tries to do a lot and is dealing with an ensemble cast (both Legends and Villains this time) so because of that some characters don’t get the exploration they deserve or are as powerful as they could be. I still enjoyed this season and watched it all the way through, but it is debatable whether it’s quality beats Season 1 as Season 1 was so much more focused and had an overarching narrative that didn’t get distracted as much as this season did. If you like the CW DC Cinematic Universe you will probably enjoy this season though.

    The story involves the Legends working to stop the Legion of Doom, lead by Thawne (Reverse-Flash) from getting the Spear of Destiny, which can rewrite time and reality itself. They find allies in the Justice Society of America as people from their past are manipulated by the Legion and Reverse-Flash’s plans unfold.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – I really enjoy the universe of “Legends of Tomorrow.” This is a time travel show that has so much fun with the concept, with this time us visiting the Apollo mission, World War 1 and Cold War as some of the stand out episodes. This season really had a lot of fun with the premise.

The Legends – The Legends receive more development this season, to varying degrees of success, that I’ll get into later. I enjoyed them all though, even with the writing for all not always being good.

Stein – Stein changes the past in this! When he changes how he gets together with his wife they end up having a child together, which he didn’t in the other timeline. She becomes one of the allies of the Legends and we also learn that Stein knows that due to how old he is, he won’t be around as long. I suspect he will be the next to die among the Legends.

Jefferson – Jefferson goes through a lot of great development and comes the closest to being second-in-command as he is the one who outsmarts evil rip and is closest to Gideon after Rip’s departure. I’m looking forward to seeing how his leadership role further develops.

Rip Hunter – Rip is sadly missing through most of this season. When he does show up he’s wiped his memory to keep people from finding the Spear of Destiny but the Legends find his memories and the Legion of Doom gets a hold of them and makes him evil for a while until Gideon and the Legends restore him. They really should have done more with him, more Darvill is better.

Vixen – Vixen ends up joining the Legends when she sneaks onto their ship after a time traveler kills one of the Justice Society of America (who she is a part of). I really liked her character, she has a cool ability where she takes on different animal powers and her being the woman out of time gives her a great perspective in episodes.

Steel – Steel is the Time Detective who works with Rory to find the other members of the Legends when they are scattered through time at the outset of the Season. His arc is resolving things with his family and standing up for himself. He annoyed me a lot at first, but grew on me. I like that he is among the Legends.

Snart / Captain Cold – The Legion of Doom takes Snart out of the past and uses him against the Legends. He kills Vixen (she is brought back when Doomworld is rewritten) and helps Thawne win everything. He is evil through and through but Rory lets him know that he will change and that it is Snart’s action that turn Rory into a good man.

Rory – Rory has the loyalty arc again as he joins Snart when the Legion recruits Snart. This leads to Thawne and the Legion winning as they capture the Spear and create “Doomworld” a world where the Legends serve the Legion. Rory helps the Legends remember who they were and stops the Legion. His arc wasn’t needed and I wish he could have taken more of a Leadership role that Jefferson and Sarah take up…he is an underutilized character at this point, at least in regards to writing. His arc that is done well is when he has to let go of Snart and accept that he is dead.

Sarah Lance – Sarah Lance is made Captain by Rip when he leaves and her arc is accepting that role as well as giving up revenge against Dark and letting go of her sister and moving on. This arc is handled well, and her leadership grew on me. The only downside was Dark kept popping up so it was mercy again and again. It took away from her arc when it was done and showed initially the writers might not have known what to do with her role.

Thawne / Reverse-Flash – I really like Thawne / Reverse-Flash. He is a smart and ambitious character who actually wins for a while! Sadly Black Flash wipes him out of time again, but he will come back I hope. Flashpoint in “Flash” brought him back and I hope we will see it again. He is one of the best villains in the CW DC Cinematic Universe and in this he is humanized a lot, while still remaining a villain. I loved his conversations with Captain Atom and other members of the Legends…

The Crossover Event – The Legends, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl all teamed up fighting the Dominators! This was an amazing event and I wanted more of it. This was the closest we have to a CW DC Justice League and I cared about all the characters, and felt the alien threat was great. Here is to more events like this.

Grief and Letting Go – The major theme this season was letting go and moving through grief. Rory and Sarah’s arcs were only completed after they said good-bye to those they loved and accepted how that person had changed them. This was powerful but felt weaker because Rip did this last Season with his wife and kid…It was still one of the better parts of the season though.

Okay: The Ending – The ending is alright. I enjoyed Rory saying good by to Snart and Sarah saying good by the Laurel but wasn’t a fan of Rip going off an adventure again and though the breaking time is intriguing (maybe Thawne will be back!) and I liked that Vixen and Steel are the new members of the Legends…it still felt unfinished and that it was more concerned with setting up Season 3 than having a final Season 2.

The Cons: Dark – Dark is also from “Arrow” and also a waste. Seriously the “Arrow” villains are just the most boring characters in the CW DC Cinematic Universe. He is smarmy and smug and loses every fight he gets into. It takes the Reverse-Flash rewriting reality to give him his only real win. If the Legion even comes back I hope he and Merlyn aren’t a part of it.

Merlyn – Merlyn is back from “Arrow” and doesn’t really do much. He loses every fight he gets into and his whole wanting his wife and son back is never explored. He really wasn’t needed for the Legion of Doom.

The Justice Society of America – These guys show up in World War 2 and hide parts of the Spear of Destiny throughout time with Rip Hunter. They are extremely underdeveloped though and I never got attached. They really should have been core to the season, as besides Vixen, none of them are needed for the plot at all. They aren’t the answer to the Legion of Doom and they seem to only exist this season because they exist in the DC universe.

   This season was stronger in many ways, but weaker in others. I felt Dark and Merlyn never went anywhere as villains. I also felt the Justice Society could have been explored more. Besides Vixen I didn’t feel like I really got to know any of them. They played a big role in separating the Spear but outside of that they weren’t needed for the story at all. I enjoyed Sarah letting go of her sister and Rory having to let go of Snart, the good-byes were the best part of the finale…and I’m hoping Thawne comes back, given he’s been erased from reality twice now…Thawne is one of the best villains to come out of the CW DC Cinematic Universe and he’s been the best antagonist the Flash has, so I really hope we haven’t seen the last of him. For overall thoughts, this is a good season that kept me interested in seeing where the story goes from here.

Final Score: 7.7 / 10

iBoy (2017): An Animesque Film That Explores Trauma and Healing

   “iBoy” is a decent film. It’s a made for Netflix film, which I’ve noticed has come to mean they are working with a limited budget, but this film makes the most of it by having a smaller cast, which leads to some great character exploration for our leads, as both of them are given arcs that have good payoff.

    The film was directed by Adam Randall, written by Joe Barton, Mark Denton and Jonny stockwood and produced by Gail Mutrux, Nate Bolotin, Emily Leo, Oliver Roskill and Lucan Toh.

   The story takes place in London as lonely teenage boy Tom struggles to fit in and find purpose. With prompting from his friend he goes out with Lucy, a friend and long time crush. Sadly he arrives when her house is being attacked and she is being assaulted by faceless gang members. When he runs they shoot him leading to parts of his cell phone getting lodged into his brain. When he wakes he finds he has developed powers and begins to hunt down the men responsible as Lucy works through the trauma of all she went through.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world feels a lot like Gotham as the gangs are pretty powerful in this and you get the idea that they own city, which is why Tom becoming iBoy makes sense. I could have spent more time in this world given there are only 3 characters who really get explored.

The Special Effects – The special effects are cheap but effective and I like how they show what is on the screens of phones when iBoy is hacking devices or noticing the world around him. It gives the world a cyberpunk feel.

The Main Characters – The three main characters who get explored are really what carry the film. Maisie Williams is the strongest actress in this, while the guys work but aren’t nearly on her level or have her range. They still do a decent job with what they have to work with though.

Danny – Danny is in with the gangs and is Tom’s friend…we soon see it is a false friendship by the end as he sell’s Tom out for money to the leader of the gangs and was the one filming the rape of Lucy at the beginning (it is implied anyway). I wish he’d faced some sort of justice, as everyone else in the film does.

Tom – Tom is the nerdy outcast who develops confidence when he gets superpowers. He is very much a Peter Parker analogue, and he works in that way as it is going full vigilante that leads to him forgetting Lucy, the reason he went vigilante in the first place. In the end he comes back though and works with Lucy as it is together they take down the gangs as he discovers his full power (he can turn himself into an EMP beyond just hacking tech. and manipulating electricity).

Lucy – Maisie Williams is an amazing actress, and thankfully she isn’t exploited in this as her rape by the gang members could have ended there and Tom’s story be the only arc since he goes vigilante. Instead we see her face her fear of going outside, trusting people again and she even confronts the monsters who did it and lets them live, showing she’s better than them and that she isn’t a killer. Her story is the strongest in the entire film and unlike a lot of animes where she’d just become an object to inspire iBoy she is a fully realized character.

Healing from Trauma – The film shows that healing from trauma and abuse isn’t easy and takes time. Both Tom and Lucy (who experience very different types of trauma) find one another and in the end Lucy is the one who really goes through healing as Tom just gets obsessed in his rage until the end. This is a process that is different for everyone, but I found how they expressed arc to be powerful and empowering as she takes control of her life again and empowers those around her and herself.

Murder versus Mercy – Murder versus Mercy is a huge theme in this as everyone who is bad (the gangsters) are all killers. iBoy gets close at times and it is his walking close to this that the film presents as a negative as Lucy doesn’t want him to lose his soul either.

Okay: Tom’s Grandma – She writers erotic fiction and her daughter was a druggie and she is worried about Tom…I wish all of these things could have been explored more as she doesn’t feel like a fully realized character.

The Cons: The Big Bad – The guy is a one-dimensional dude who just wants power. The only unique thing about him is he wants to use iBoy to get his money back and become even more powerful. It is implied he might be Tom’s dad but it doesn’t go anywhere. He was really a waste of a character…the lesser gang members were too outside of Danny.

  This is a film worth checking out if if you like cyberpunk or super hero films as it very much captures both those genres. In many ways ti feels like an anime, as the main character is a recluse who gets special powers whose drive is a love interest until his obsession becomes his drive (reminded me a lesser Lelouch from “Code Geass”). Maisie Williams was the best part of this film though as her arc of healing is actually explored and she isn’t just an object to inspire Tom and his motivation. They are partners and that is what made the film enjoyable as the villains are pretty weak and aren’t very fleshed out.

Final Score: 7.7 / 10

The “Star Wars” Films – Worst to Best

Star Wars Films

    Now that I have watched all the Episodes of “Star Wars” it is time for rating them from worst to best. In these summaries I’m going to briefly go over what worked and what didn’t, as well as what made a certain episode better than another. I will also be posting links to the actual reviews, which I will post to each summary will contain the spoilers. George Lucas really did create an amazing world, 7 films, countless shows and spinoffs and more films, games, books and comics to come. What an amazing ride through both great and horrible storytelling this Episodic journey has been. The only films being reviewed here are them in relationship to their theatrical releases as I hate what Lucas did to his art with the Original Trilogy special Editions and Prequeling them up and the deleted scenes add nothing to the Prequels. This is only the films as they appeared in the theater and the only way I will watch them.

Attack of the Clones

7) Episode II: Attack of the Clones

      “Attack of the Clones” is a jumbled mess of reference that makes no sense and has no coherency or focus. There isn’t a main character to speak of and the character of Anakin is just a winy brat, creepy stalker and murder and with that we see none of the friendship he was supposed to have with Obi-Wan. To go with this the dialogue related to the love story is crap and the acting is wooden from everybody. There is no reason to watch this film as it isn’t needed in regards to Anakin’s fall (Only Episode III is needed) and in it Obi-Wan was the only character I liked.

Final Score: 3 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-story-ruined-by-excess-and-horrible-dialogue/

The Phantom Menace

6) Episode I: The Phantom Menace

     The reason “The Phantom Menace” isn’t lower on the list is due in large part to performances by Veteran actors like Neeson and McGregor. Darth Maul is a pretty great Dragon for Darth Sidious too. What keeps it from being good though, as it is still a terrible film are some of the issues all the Prequels have. The dialogue feels stilted and unnatural, the tone is all over the place and serious scenes are ruined by Jar Jar being contrived comedic relief and a supposed hero in nearly every scene in the film. Without the performances by the great actors this film would be worse than “Attack of the Clones,” and that is saying something. This was George Lucas’s warning to us that when he’s in charge of a project, the film will most likely suck as there will be no one to reel in his tendencies like in the Original Trilogy.

Final Score: 5 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/star-wars-episode-1-the-phantom-menace-1999-an-unfocused-mess-ruined-by-child-actors-and-comedic-relief/

Revenge of the Sith

5) Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

   “Revenge of the Sith” isn’t good but it is fun. It is here there are echoes of great ideas and there is finally focus as well follow Anakin and witness his fall to become Darth Vader. What brings it down though is I still don’t believe the love story and Anakin’s transformation is way too quick. The problem of excess and tone is on full display too as the final fight goes on way too long and General Grievous, who is supposed to be the big bad Separatist leader is a joke who is impossible to take seriously. McGregor does put in another great performance as Obi-Wan, just as Ian McDiarmid clearly has a lot of fun in the role of Darth Sidious. This is the Prequel film that feels the most like the Original Trilogy, even if it can’t fully capture what made the Original great.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-best-of-the-prequels-but-still-an-idea-not-fully-realized/

Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi

4) Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

   “Return of the Jedi” is when George Lucas’s prequel problems begin. We spend way too long in Jabba’s palace which makes the Empire seem useless, especially since Darth Vader is ordered to just sit around and the Empire stupidly builds another Death Star that is even more vulnerable than the one prior, and the Empire’s greatest troops fall to Ewoks. What keeps this one from being worse than “Revenge of the Sith” though are the character moments. We get to see that Luke has come into his own as a Jedi, Darth Vader’s redemption arc is completed, the Leia and Han relationship is completed and Luke and Leia’s relationship changes with the new revelation Luke discovers at the beginning of the film. These great moments just put it above “Revenge of the Sith,” and keep it from being a total mess like the Prequels.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/star-wars-episode-vi-return-of-the-jedi-1983-there-is-good-but-prequel-problems-begin/

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

  3) Episode VII: The Force Awakens

     “Star Wars” is great again! “The Force Awakens” has some of the best new characters in any science fiction (Kylo Ren, Rey and Finn) and manages to set up great arcs for them and made me invested in what happens to them. The First Order actually feels like a threat and the action, dialogue and story are all solid. What keeps it from being better from being higher on the list is it is derivative of the Original Trilogy, from the First Order having a Super Weapon to countless other things. The villains outside of Kylo Ren were pretty weak too and didn’t really do much in relationship to our heroes. It is really those factors that keep it from being perfect, though I am excited to see how this new Trilogy unfolds. J.J. Abrams has set the stage for so much more to be explored in regards to the world and characters.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/star-wars-episode-vii-the-force-awakens-2015-a-return-to-star-wars-strengthened-by-new-characters/

Star Wars A New Hope Poster

2) Episode IV: A New Hope

    “A New Hope” truly is a classic and is the hero’s journey done right. Luke is the orphan pulled into events outside of his control who steps up to become a hero when the Empire destroys what reasons he had to stay where he was. From here things unfold as we see Grand Moff Tarkin played by the amazing Peter Cushing destroy Alderaan and torture Leia and Darth Vader arrive and show  just how powerful the force and the Empire’s power is. We also meet Obi-Wan who is the old wizard avoiding the world until Leia and Luke pull him back into it and Han Solo, the rogue who becomes a hero over the course of the film. This is the film that inspired so many other Sci. Fi. films (Including “The Force Awakens”) and is a classic. The only issue is we spend way too long with the droids at the beginning and Leia could have gotten more character development.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/star-wars-episode-iv-a-new-hope-1977-a-heros-journey-and-a-classic/

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

1) Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

   “The Empire Strikes Back” is where we see the Empire’s full might in action. Whether it is crushing the Rebels on Hoth and chasing them to the ends of the galaxy or Darth Vader completely destroying Luke in their duel and his capture and torture of Luke’s friends…the tone here is dark and in the dark we see hope and wonder as Luke is trained by Yoda in the ways of the force and Han and Leia’s friendship naturally becomes a romance. The film is perfect as every new scene advances characters and their relationships and the Empire and Darth Vader show why they are the villains as they succeed in almost everything they do. In this our heroes only win when they survive, and that adds stakes to all the events that occur. The writing and cinematography are also the best “Star Wars” has ever been and thus far it is the only perfect “Star Wars” film.

Final Score: 10 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/star-wars-episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back-1980-a-masterpiece-of-betrayal-family-and-the-philosophy-of-the-force/

    It was a joy going back to watch these in the lead up to “The Force Awakens,” and I look forward to Disney’s eventual re-releasing of the Original Trilogy in it’s Original Theatrical form. George Lucas created something wonderful and inspiring with this Universe. There will no doubt be countless more Episodes and films so eventually I will be returning and making another list like this. But until then, may the force be with you, always.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – A Masterpiece of Betrayal, Family and the Philosophy of the Force

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back p

      “The Empire Strikes Back” is truly the best of the Original Trilogy. It has the tightest story, it is desolate, there are stakes and it still manages to have hope. We also see why Darth Vader is the primary villain of the Trilogy as this one allows us the chance to see what it is like when Vader is charge and not reporting to Grand Moff Tarkin. It’s one of my favorites and the change that was made in one of the Special Editions of putting Ian McDiarmid in as the Emperor was good, though the new dialogue isn’t so good and the cgi Tie Fighters that were put in post production are distracting. The Original unchanged is still the strongest and that was the one I saw, like “A New Hope” and like I’ll be seeing “Return of the Jedi.”

      This film wasn’t directed by George Lucas and he was only one of the three writers behind it.

    The director was Irvin Kershner and written by Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasden and George Lucas, while being produced by Gary Kurtz.

     The story involves the rebels on the run, having escaped to Hoth to hide from the Emperor as they are still strong after the destruction of the Death Star. Darth Vader is hunting them, hoping to destroy the Rebellion for good and capture and turn Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is wonderful and John Williams captures the fear and terror the Empire so well as we are given the most desolate situation for the Rebellion as Darth Vader is successful in whatever he sets out to do.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful, especially the Battle of Hoth and the Duel between Luke and Vader. The use of mist and shadows to increase the fear and tension among our characters and heroes is done masterfully. Peter Suschitzky did a great job.

The Writing – The script is tight and fast and you can tell that Lucas was not the primary writer, though Lucas did do a great job on the script for the original version of “A New Hope,” to his credit. When he’s on a team he seems to be do better though.

The Empire – The Empire is powerful in this and we see Cloud City, the Rebels on Hoth and the pursuit of the Millennium Falcon. Part of the reason I enjoy this film so much is the Empire feels like a threat and they never stop feeling like a threat. They force our heroes to escape the Galaxy and no longer have a home base as the Empire has chased them away from all their safe havens, captured on of their Captain’s and friends (Han Solo) and injured one of their leaders (Luke). The Empire has a firm win, even if it isn’t a total victory. The stakes are raised in this.

The Rebellion – The Rebellion shows how resilient they are in this. We see that in the end, no matter how hurt they are (so many die in the Battle of Hoth) that they will keep going and resisting the Empire, and that is what makes them interesting.

The Battle of Hoth – The Battle of Hoth is my favorite “Star Wars” battle besides the assault on the Death Star. The AT-ATs are beautiful machines that are deadly and take a lot to take down. We also see how deadly the Empire is again as they walk all over the Rebels as above we see Star Destroyers from their fleet.

The Millennium Falcon on the Run – Han and Leia’s escape is a great arc. We see them forced together because they stuck around to make sure all the other Rebels escaped first and as a reward they are pursued by Vader himself through an Asteroid field and eventually by Bounty Hunters hunting them too. Through it Leia and Han fall in love as we see that they are both stubborn but have a huge respect for one another and notice how aware they can be with others. It is during the run we see Han grow up and stop pushing people away.

Cloudy City – Cloud City is a great location. It’s Lando’s base and business and is neutral in the war until Vader goes back on his deals with Lando and we see Cloud City join the Rebellion and resist Imperial oppression. It is a great arc as we see Cloud City is a selfish place but there is good here too when Lando saves our heroes and tries to save the friend he betrayed.

Luke’s Training – Luke’s training continues his heroes journey as we see him grow to look beyond appearances when Yoda reveals he is the Jedi Master and that his size does no matter as he raises Luke’s X-Wing out of the Swamp. In this we see Yoda is always forcing Luke to face himself and learn to let go, which Luke is not able to do as Darth Vader’s torture of his friends leads him leaving Dagoba even when Obi-Wan’s ghost and Yoda warn him how dire of a mistake it will be.

Dagoba – Dobaba is a fantastic location! It is dark and smoggy and full of life. You get why Yoda chose this place when he explains how the force flows through all life forms. It is foreboding but beautiful in it’s own way too.

The Characters – The Characters and their arcs are what make this film a classic and a favorite. More is done with them than in “A New Hope” and we see the choices they make that change them and help them to grow.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan is back as the mentor sending Luke to Dagoba and warning him about the challenge of facing Vader when he is not fully trained (which he would know having failed to kill his friend). There is a sadness to the character too as he can’t do anything a ghost but communicate with those already in connection with him.

Yoda – Yoda is awesome and Frank Oz owns this role. He’s a compelling character, unlike the CGI one-dimensional pillow sitting Master we got in the Prequels. Yoda is a trickster yet full of wisdom as he pulls Luke out of his comfort zone and forces him to confront himself and what it means to use the Force. It is this film that made Yoda one of my favorite characters, and we never see this level of depth from the character again.

Lando Calrissian – Billy Dee Wililams is awesome as the gambler who turns on his friend Han to save his people. He’s complicated and when you see the operation he runs you get why he made that terrible decision as he no doubt saw it as one life versus many. By the end he realizes he’s been tricked though and joins the Rebellion and tries to save Han to begin to atone for his betrayal. I really liked this character, he’s smooth, suave and owns his own city.

Boba Fett – Fett is great. I really like his original voice as it shows someone who has been through a lot. His voice is raspy and we get an idea how deadly he is when Vader orders capture only and no disintegrations to Boba. Boba is the one who figures out how the Falcon escaped the fleet and tracks them to Cloud City. In the end he succeeds and is able to bring Jabba Han’s frozen body.

Princess Leia – Leia is more passive in this after the Battle of Hoth than she is in Empire but we see she never stops being the one who figures things out first. She doesn’t trust Lando and we learn she is right to do and she comes around to Han showing that at this point Han has become a good person. She also tries to warn Luke, though Luke doesn’t listen and walks into Vader’s trap in Cloud City. She also saves Luke when Luke communicates through the Force to her.

Han Solo – Han is the main character of this film. He goes from the guy who is still selfish and just wants to have his old life back again, but each time rises to help the Rebellion, whether it is saving Luke in the Blizzard or finding the Imperial Search Droid. This eventually leads to him protecting Leia as slowly they fall in love as Han begins to show more awareness towards others from doing insults to treating Leia and C-3PO with only respect. Han learns to listen and in the end he is frozen in carbonite as he has finally found love with his partner Leia.

Darth Vader – Vader is driven in this and we see soon learn why as Luke is his son. Everything he does is to bring Luke to him so he can turn him to the Dark Side so he will no longer be alone. There is a sadness to the character in this as we see his scarred body when his helmet is being put on, which gives him vulnerability, though he never stops being ruthless. Whether is is taking over Cloud City, destroying the rebels on Hoth, the torture of Han and Leia to bring Luke and the cutting off of Luke’s hand. Vader is destruction contrasted with vulnerability and it makes him one of the most compelling villains of cinema.

Luke Skywalker – Luke grows up a lot in this as we see him discover the Force is not easy to learn and that he has so many hangups he needs get over. In the end we see him mature though as he loses his friends, the Rebellion (when he seeks Yoda for training) Han and in the end his hand and his innocence as he learns he is the son of the Dark Lord Darth Vader. This breaks him and completes the destruction of his worldview that Yoda began when he showed him size and appearance has no bearing on the force. In it he experiences betrayal from Obi-Wan and not telling him the complete truth and the realization that they were right, he was not powerful enough to kill Vader and now he doesn’t know if he ever can as he no doubt still lives his test in Dagoba where his killing of Vader in the forest revealed himself underneath the helmet. That vision hits much closer to home now. Vader is blood and family and was once a powerful Jedi who turned. If Obi-Wan’s best friend turned, than what hope does Luke have? None of this is outright stated but it’s implied in the scenes and drama that unfold in the Duel.

The Duel and Reveal – The reveal of Vader as Luke’s father is powerful as is the lead up to it. In it we see how Luke has learned a lot but everything Vader says about the Dark Side being more powerful seems to be true. He walks all over Luke, using the environment against Luke and getting into his head with the final reveal of that vulnerability we saw when Vader was without his helmet. “Together we can rule the Galaxy as Father and Son.” Vader does care even though he is this ruthless machine who sees life, whether it is Imperial or Rebel as expendable…he makes an exception for Luke because there is good in there. The duel is beautiful too as the Lightsabers are light in the dark and mist that covers the areas of Cloud City they fight in. It is my favorite duel of the series without a doubt because it isn’t just great action, it is great action with a purpose.

Philosophy of the Force – The Force is all about letting go. It is when the illusions of size, appearance and strength are mastered that you can master the world. This is shown in starting with the basics where Luke’s mind and body and strengthened but he isn’t able to let go as it is fear for his friends that leads to the loss of his hand and in the end he loses one of his friends anyway, showing that Yoda and Obi-Wan were right that leaving would change nothing.

The Ending – Han is captured by Jabba, the Rebellion has been chased out of the Galaxy and is on the run and has no safe haven and Luke is left to consider the words of his father and is given his first dilemma…can he kill Vader to save the Galaxy or is that price to high? The Rebellion has a new ally in Lando though as Vader is left to deal with the loss and escape of his son.

Okay/Pro: The Droids and Chewbacca – The Droids are alright, same with Chewbacca. They are support roles with R2 saving the day in the end when he fixes the ship so the Falcon can jump to Light Speed. They weren’t bad but compared to all the other characters I found them distracting at times, with the exception of Chewbacca and R2 sometimes. C-3PO was largely annoying.

The Emperor – He pops up once to show that Vader reports to a higher power but I never felt threatened by him in any version. He’s a force in the background but we’ve seen the things Vader has done. The Emperor in the Original Trilogy is just there as the symbol of the Empire’s power. He was used much better in the Prequels and his rise, I’d have liked to see him do more but he wasn’t a con.

    This is my favorite of all the “Star Wars” Films and I’ll be very surprised if “The Force Awakens” manages to beat it. So much is accomplished in this film and we learn so much about all our characters as they are put through their greatest tests and from those tests humanity and growth is revealed. This film is one of my all time favorite films and is beloved by so many for many for the reasons I describe above. Watch the Original if you can, the Ties are distracting in the “Special Edition” as is some of the added dialogue. Less is more and that is what the original version captures as it is wholly focused on our characters and their struggles. Suffice to say, I highly recommend this film.

Final Score: 10 / 10. The things that are okay do not bring down the score in this instance as everything else is solid.

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episodes 21-22 – “Darth Maul’s Return Arc” – Why Did They Bring Maul Back?

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   Generally in fiction it is a bad idea to bring back someone who has already died. Shaak Ti in “Star Wars” died multiple times before she finally had her worst death in “The Force Unleashed” where she was killed by one of the biggest blandest Mary Stus to come out of this Universe. From this episode bringing back Darth Maul was the exact same problem, it took away from the development of Savage Opress and took off focus from the Clone Wars to retread ground we had already walked back in Episode 1, as well as giving a chance for Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council to act stupid. There were some things that worked about this arc though, and I’ll go into detail on what those things were.

    “Brothers” was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Katie Lucas who also wrote “Revenge.” “Revenge” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell.

    The story involves Opress finding Darth Maul his brother driven mad by his rage and being left behind. After he helps his brother find himself again he takes him to Mother Talzin who restores his legs and from here Opress and Maul set a trap for Obi-Wan by luring him to a village by slaughtering all the men, women and children in it. From here the story unfolds as Obi-Wan and Ventress work together as Ventress was brought to the world in her search for the Bounty on Opress.

The Pros: Savage Opress – This guy is unhinged and really powerful in the force. Everywhere he goes people get hurt and you get the idea that when he was pumped full of Darkside magic he lost all sense of self. He is still an agent of Talzin and the Darkside but beyond that there is very little that makes him human. It’s very cool to see this in his interactions with others too.

Ventress – Ventress arrives and saves Obi-Wan’s life when Maul is torturing him. They have a great dynamic and she is good at establishing that this isn’t entirely out of the goodness of her heart. Their banter is great and we see that she has continued to grow as a duelist.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan gets schooled, which he kind of deserved since he didn’t take a Jedi Task Force with him (which Yoda stupidly consented too) and he nearly dies because of that. He only just escapes because of Ventress hunting Opress. He is fun in this though and he takes his battering and bruising with a smile and mocks Darth Maul a lot.

Revenge on the Galaxy – In the end Maul and Opress plot revenge against the Jedi and the galaxy and it is a good moment too as it shows that they are beyond the personal and have the potential to be an actual threat the galaxy.

The Cons: Darth Maul – There was no reason to bring this guy back and when we first see him he is insane…and even after he finds balance again we don’t really get his motivation beyond revenge against Obi-Wan. This idea could have worked if we’d seen him have some greater purpose beyond killing Obi-Wan, but we don’t which means it was a retreated of the Episode 1 fight for all intents and purposes.

The Idiocy of Personal Vendettas – Yoda says Obi-Wan should finish it on it’s own and gives Obi-Wan full reign to be an idiot. They knew how powerful Darth Maul was, so sending one person who didn’t know his current abilities was a recipe for disaster and felt the whole “Hero has to do for reasons” syndrome that is overdone in fiction.

I’m against bringing back characters who are dead, there is no point and it is largely just for fan service. There has to be a really good reason to write something in that stupid and so far the writers have not justified it to me. Maul sells toys, that doesn’t mean he should come back. This was a major reason I could not enjoy the episode and have trouble recommending it, even though it was decent.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 20-22 – “Boba Fett’s Revenge Arc” – Boba Fett is Ruined

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       This arc was okay, it wasn’t great as we get a lot of beige Jedi and Boba Fett was too, there was so much potential with his character that was just wasted since the show wasn’t willing to go as far as it could have for showing an orphan who had been raised by the best Bounty Hunter in the galaxy. Most of that was abandoned for overdone cliches and the most interesting parts of the episode were Anakin’s reaction to things and Captain Captain Hondo.

      “Death Trap” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Doug Petric, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen. “R2 Come Home” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Eoghan Mahony, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “Lethal Trackdown” was directed by Dave Filoni who was one of the writers along with Greenberg and Larsen.

    The story involves Boba Fett’s quest for Revenge with Sing to kill Mace Windu for the murder of his father. From here things unfold as he destroys a Republic Cruiser to trap them and deals with the threat of the Jedi closing in as he seeks to bring about his revenge and deal with his conflicted feelings over the people caught in the crossfire.

The Pros: Captain Hondo – This guy is back as Sing’s ex and he has a great dynamic with her and the Jedi as he doesn’t want to get burned from either side. Seeing him play the neutral party for once when he is usually an antagonist was pretty awesome.

Anakin Skywalker – Skywalker almost dies but through R2 manages to save himself and Windu. He is the one all out for killing Boba and if Boba kills Jedi later, he wouldn’t be completely wrong. In this we see how driven Anakin is by ends justifying the means and that there isn’t any accountability as Windu never calls him out fully on being so focused on himself and his ego.

Okay: The Bounty Hunters – They all have cool looks but we never get to know what their drive is beyond money or why Sing is helping Boba. Wasted potential but they weren’t completely useless.

The Cons: Boba Fett – For a character that is supposed to be the greatest badass later he mostly just frowns and fails in his mission and feels bad about the innocents in the crossfire later. Very poorly handled as a character.

The Jedi – Windu and Plo Koon are blank slates in this and we never get to know Ahsoka either because Plo and Windu take up so much of the screentime.

  This was an arc that was okay, but had way too much going against it. It would have been better to leave Boba out and make his story a mystery as now he has been even more ruined by the influence of the prequels.

Final Score: 5 / 10