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A Conversation With Myself About Star Wars [SPOILERS]

I’ve been trying to come up with a pithy way to effectively review Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, and the truth is, I’m stumped.

I was really looking forward to this film. But after two screenings, I think I need to come to terms with the fact that, well…. I just don’t like it that much.

And considering a lot of the reactions on Twitter, YouTube, and Rotten Tomatoes, I’m apparently not alone.

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It turns out that The Last Jedi has been incredibly divisive for fans.

In listening to commentary on YouTube channels like Screen Junkies and Collider, a lot of people seem to be throwing up their hands and saying that since the reaction to The Force Awakens (such as mine) was that it was a beat-for-beat remake of “A New Hope”, and since now some reactions to The Last Jedi are mad that it’s “too different” (more on that later), there’s just no way to please Star Wars fans.

There’s a grain of truth to this.

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Why We Hate the Prequel Trilogy

Last year, remember how traffic felt a little lighter on December 16, 2016? Or how there were a few less colleagues in the cubicle next to you crunching away on their Doritos? Or how our nations GDP dipped three points because everyone stayed home.

No, it was not because of the approaching holidays. No, it was not because of the wet winter weather gripping both coasts. It was because Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released in theaters and America took a collective national sick day as the hardcore Star Wars faithful, casual fans of nerd culture, and the allies of geeks everywhere took a day to visit a galaxy far, far away.

Why do I remind you of this? Because on Friday, December 15, 2017 this will all happen again. This time, in response to the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

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The Last Jedi – Top 8 Fake Spoilers for Episode VIII

Star Wars fever is about to break out into another $2 billion box office rash. Apply these fake spoilers as a preventative salve to stave off your own case of Force-itis.

8 - Whether it's your evil lair or your family room, the remote's always in the last place you look.
8 – Whether it’s your evil lair or your family room, the remote’s always in the last place you look.

7 - Watch Poe and Finn's desperate struggle not to end up as the Ron Weasley of this trilogy.
7 – Watch Poe and Finn’s desperate struggle not to end up as the Ron Weasley of Star Wars.

6 - Mark Hamill's just relieved now that the last movie he holds a lightsaber in won't be Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. 6 – Mark Hamill’s just relieved that the last movie he holds a lightsaber in will no longer be Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. (more…)

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How diverse was “Ghost in the Shell”, really?

Hello!

My name is Luke Guidici. I’m a filmmaker and writer and while this is the first post I’ve written on Smashcutculture.com, my work has been featured on the site. In addition to my own work, I occasionally write about film. My last in depth exploration was a two-part essay on the Heist Movie Genre, but recently I was reminded that I wanted to examine the issue of diversity in the live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell.”

Movie adaptations are tough. For one it’s a different medium, which means somethings just have to be changed. I wrote about the process of adaptation here. It seems that no matter what is done, people get very upset with any changes from the original text. Whether it’s casting an actor that doesn’t look like the source character, a costume that is different, or a change in a hero’s powers.

Back when the film came out there was much internet outrage about the “whitewashing” of the lead character. People were offended that Scarlett Johansson had been cast in the lead role… instead of an actor with Asian ancestry. When I watched the movie, I was struck by how diverse the cast and world was. It had probably been 10 plus years since I’d seen the anime, so I wasn’t sure my memory served me correctly. I made a mental note that once the new film was available to purchase, I’d buy both and compare the two to see what sort of changes were made in the adaptation. And for good measure, I also bought the original manga, from which both are based.

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Thank You For Smoking Movie Review

The film “Thank You For Smoking,” starring Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, is a satirical dramady about the cigarette industry’s leading lobbyist and the trials and tribulations he overcomes, not only in his career, but in maintaining the respect of his son.

Nick Naylor would, at first glance, appear to be your everyday, average guy, but the reality is he’s big tobacco’s smooth talking man on “the hill”. On a day to day basis he’s fighting the stigma of cigarettes, after all, everyone deserves a fair defense – even multinational corporations. As we pick up his story, he’s planning a strategy to combat new congressional labeling bill for cigarette products – a large skull and crossbones, reading “poison.”

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Fifty Shades Freed – Top 5 Fake Spoilers

No other film series has so successfully adapted pulp erotica into gold-plated pornography and come next February it’ll be time for another installment. To tide you over until the actual movie comes out, check out these fake spoilers.

5 - This is what happens when you hire a Dexter writer to punch up the script.
#5 – This is what happens when you hire a Dexter writer to punch up the script.

4 - Anastasia and Christian are happy they eventually decided to have a traditional wedding ceremony.
#4 – Anastasia and Christian are happy they decided to have a traditional wedding ceremony.

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Victoria & Abdul – Top 5 Fake Spoilers

20 years after Mrs. Brown, Dame Judi’s back in Victorian era wardrobe as… Queen Victoria. Audiences have been positively clamoring for Judi to reprise her role as the 19th century’s most famous baby factory so fair warning: FAKE SPOILERS BELOW!

5 - You've heard of actors sleepwalking through a part? Well, watch Judi Dench sleepsit through this one!
5 – You’ve heard of actors sleepwalking through a part? Well, watch Judi Dench sleep-sit through this one!

4 - Ms. Dench forgot to get the okay from the Weinstein Brothers before making a period piece about a British monarch so they sent a dead fish to the set.
4 – Ms. Dench forgot to get the okay from the Weinstein Brothers before making another period piece about a British monarch so they sent a dead fish to the set.

3 - Hungry for action? Just wait for the scene of butlers and maids practicing their bowing to an empty chair!
3 – Worried that a historical drama won’t have enough suspense? Just wait for the scene where the help practices bowing to an empty chair!

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Stephen King’s IT – Top 10 Fake Spoilers

Never has such a short book title filled so many pages. (1,138 to be exact) Remember when flipping past the old TV version would fill your nightmare quota for a month or two? Well, on September 8th you’ll have to drive all the way to a theater to get scared for 14 bucks (plus another 10 for the worst nachos you’ve ever eaten). To better prepare you for a night of thrills and chills, here are the Top Ten Fake Spoilers for IT…


10 - "Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It's off to die we go!"
10 – “Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s off to die we go!”

9 - Meet the only Jewish kid in Maine not at a sleep away camp.
9 – Meet the only Jewish kid in Maine not at a sleep away camp.

8 - This "Terrifying Clown Is Here!" arrow was repurposed from a mall map.
8 – This “Terrifying Clown Is Here!” arrow was repurposed from a mall map.

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“Dunkirk” Disappoints

A guest post from Brian Watt of Ricochet.com

Yes, there are spoilers herein. If you are planning to see Dunkirk at a theater near you and don’t want to read about how the new Christopher Nolan film treats this historical event then you may be excused. Here’s a trailer of the film below that should serve as a visual break in this Ricochet post before the review begins.

Let me begin by articulating that I am an admirer of Nolan’s work. He breathed new life into the Batman stories and made something that had been targeted previously primarily to adolescent boys something that adults could find entertaining and at times thought provoking, exploring such themes as chaos, evil and nihilism. With Interstellar, he and his screenwriting brother, took the time to explore the actual science of the astrophysics that the film relies upon with renowned physicist Kip Thorne, so it would have an air of authenticity and highly-probable believability (well, the ending was a stretch). If only Ridley Scott had applied Nolan’s same discipline and attention to detail to the laughably unscientific, Prometheus.

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The Mist – Top 5 Fake Spoilers

Before you tune in to the next episode of The Mist, tune in to some untrue spoilers…

This went a lot smoother when they did it on Glee.
5 – This went a lot smoother when they did it on Glee.

4 - "Chief, we probably should have ran away in the half hour since the fog showed up."
4 – “Uh, Chief, we probably should’ve run away in the half hour since that fog started crawling towards us.”

3 - "I've been trapped out here since Frank Darabont made his Mist movie back in 2007. Let me in, man!"
3 – “I’ve been trapped out here since Frank Darabont made his Mist movie back in ’07. Let me in, man!”

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I like Underpants…

I never grew up reading the Captain Underpants book series by Dave Pilkey; they were as us old-folks say “before my time.” Still, something about the trailer spoke to me, and I found myself watching the film Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017).

Spoilers throughout.

In the film, best friends Harold and George, a storyteller-artist tandem obsessed with creating comic books, find themselves at odds with their fascist Principal Krupp. The Principal is obsessed with order, structure, and efficiency; all of which come at the expense of his student’s creativity, and innovation. With the use of a cereal-box hypno-ring, the two hypnotize Principal Krupp into believing he is the embodiment of their comic book magnum opus, Captain Underpants. With Captain Underpants as their principal, their harmless pranks become a welcomed addition to school, and art and music are returned to the school curriculum. They spend their day helping the Captain blend in as a convincing principal, and making sure he does not accidentally return to his natural Krupp state.

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A Scanner Darkly

There is a new drug out and it is called D. It splits the right and left hemisphere of your brain when abused too much. An undercover cop who is addicted to this new drug comes under investigation when suspected of drug abuse. The film involves several themes but most is the use of drugs and the war on them. There is an eerily familiar theme of government over-watch for our protection. This idea that they can keep us safe from ourselves. This world is faced with potential dangers such as drugs and addiction and in order to combat this the government assumes it must sneakily watch and attempt to control our lives. It is this endless cycle of the government creating drugs, people getting addicted, citizens begin arrested for said drugs, then the government rehabbing those individuals.

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At least one reviewer liked “The Circle”

What would happen if everyone was connected via social media? What if all their information was public? What if there were cameras literally everywhere to make sure that any and every experience was accessible to all? What if people voluntarily agreed to this world because a slick talking ceo convinced them it was better? These are just some of the questions raised by “The Circle.”

While many critics didn’t like “The Circle,” I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. I think some of those issues came from the marketing of this movie, as the film isn’t really worthy of the title “gripping thriller” that it claimed. “Thought-provoking drama” is more appropriate. The story starts when Mae (Emma Watson) gets a job at “The Circle,” which is like the love child of Apple and Facebook.

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Top Ten Fake “Transformers: The Last Knight” Spoilers

You don’t have to wait until June 21st to get the inside scoop on Transformers: The Last Knight

10 - It's come to this: To get parts in non-Star Wars movies, C3PO has to do nude scenes now.
10 – It’s come to this: To get parts in non-Star Wars movies, C3PO has to do nude scenes now.

9 - John Goodman reprises his voice role as Hound because damn it, he's going to make 9 movies a year whether you like it or not.
9 – John Goodman reprises his voice role as Hound because damn it, he’s going to make 9 movies a year whether you like it or not.

8 - Watch as Sir Anthony Hopkins whisper acts his way through another paycheck.
8 – Watch as Sir Anthony Hopkins whisper acts his way through another paycheck.

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Wonder Woman: Everything We Could Hope For… And More

I don’t know about you, but I have been anxiously awaiting a “Wonder Woman” feature film since rumors circulated in the late ’90s of one starring Sandra Bullock. For me, the films near twenty-years in pre-production hell was well worth the wait.

For starters, “Wonder Woman” is the film that we needed to finally prove the Exec’s wrong. The belief that female superhero films cannot be successful is farce! You may remember leaked emails from 2015 revealing their suspicions that female characters were not a draw in the box-office. The failure of female comic book movies – or any comic book movies for that matter – has nothing to do with the sex, gender, or ability of the character. No instead, as fans have always maintained, the failure of comic book films is the result of shoddy film making at the hands of filmmakers who do not understand the properties they are working with. “Wonder Woman” is a film seeming created by those who seem to understand, and love, the character. And what a difference it makes.

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NO SAFE SPACES: New Documentary by Adam Corolla and Dennis Prager

Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager are teaming up to make a new documentary about the “safe space” phenomenon that is plaguing college campuses across America. The pair has been filming for the past few months, but now they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign for $500,000 to help them continue production on “No Safe Spaces.”

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GI Film Festival Opens Today

Have you ever heard of the GI Film Festival? Since 2007, this annual festival has been building community and film-making around subjects of military and veteran experience. The festival is “dedicated to preserving the stories of American veterans past and present through film, television and live special events.”

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Wonder Woman Trailer: Top Ten Fake Spoilers

Top Ten Fake Spoilers from the latest (and last) Wonder Woman Trailer:


10 - Warner Bros. went out of its way to hire a female director to make sure Wonder Woman got that touch of Baywatch young girls can look up to.
10 – Warner Bros. went out of its way to hire a female director to make sure Wonder Woman got that touch of Baywatch young girls can look up to.

x - Little Wonder Woman: "Where do babies on "Hot Chick Island" come from, Mommy?" Wonder Woman's Mother: "Uh..."
9 – Question: “Where do babies on Hot Chick Island come from, Mommy?”
Answer: “Uh…”

Wonder Woman: The feminist icon who doesn't leave the house without her favorite accessories.
8 – Wonder Woman: The feminist icon who always accessorizes before leaving the house to fight crime.

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You May Have Missed: “Whisper of the Heart”

You may have missed this Studio Ghibli film since it is approaching its twenty second anniversary in July, but you still have time to seek it out, and it is well worth the search.

The first film produced by Ghibli that was not directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, it is much quieter than some of the studio’s better known films. The story focuses on fourteen year old Shizuku dealing with two big coming-of-age moments: realizing her passion/dream to write, and navigating her first love.

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Top Five Questions about the Blade Runner 2049 Trailer

The top five questions you’ll have after watching the Blade Runner 2049 trailer…

#5 - Uh, oh. Did Harrison Ford insist on doing his own stunt flying again?
#5 – Oh no! Did Harrison Ford insist on doing his own flying again?

#4 - Given the chance to direct a sequel to either Alien or Blade Runner, Sir Ridley chose chest-bursters over wall-bursters?
#4 – Given the chance to direct a sequel to either Alien or Blade Runner, why did Sir Ridley choose chest-bursters over wall-bursters?

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Why I Hate the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and Why You Should Too!

I hate the film Guardians of the Galaxy. I hate it. I understand that my position is not a popular one; but then again, I never really was that popular. Need proof? Look me up in the high school yearbook.

I hate the film and everything about it, from its Kevin Bacon inspired jokes to its talking Raccoon. I have spent the better part of the last two years trying to convince the rest of you, that I am right. With the sequel arriving in theaters, I will give this one another go.

I hate Guardians for one simple reason: lazy storytelling. Essentially, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is a carbon-copy of the Avengers (2012) formula, just with a relatively obscure series from deep within the Marvel vaults. And yes, before you start questioning me and my fan-boy creds, I am in fact one of some twenty-five people who has ACTUALLY read the Guardian’s books.

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Heroes Never Die – A Fan-Made Overwatch Film

Every day, fans of a certain niche genre or specific property, get together create something purely out of love for that video game, movie, book, or tv series.  Usually, they are met with scorn by the rest of the fan base, because the production value and story miss the mark completely. Ending in embarrassment. (Although there is sub-sub fan base who will love it for all its awfulness.)

But every so often, a gem is meticulously mined, polished and put on display for the world to marvel at.  In this case, the world of the FPS video game from Blizzard, Overwatch Available on Xbox, Playstation, and PC, Overwatch amassed a tens and nines and five stars reviews from all the major video game press outlets. Currently the games attracts 30 million players from all over the world. So, no pressure on the guys who wanted to make a live-action fan film.

Lupin Productions, headquartered in Tennessee, decided to take on that task. The small southern production company just released Heroes Never Die on YouTube and it has already amassed over 200,000 views and 7100 thumbs-up within the first 3 days of release.  It’s fair to say that the fans of Overwatch, all over the world, are pleased with this live-action fan made short film.  If you are thinking of heading out to do your own fan-fiction short film, the bar has just been set a little bit higher.

 

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Dallas Buyers Club Review

The film “Dallas Buyers Club”, starring Matthew McConauhey in his Academy Award winning role, is about Ron Woodroof, a man exposed to the AIDS virus who starts a buyers club – a network of infected individuals that help each other get life-saving medication.

The homophobic, free wheeling cowboy Ron contracts the HIV virus through the casual sex he has on a regular basis. The disease, stigmatized at the time as a “gay man’s” ailment, forces Ron into personal hiding, as he’s affronted with homophobic slurs despite his heterosexual lifestyle.

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Literature (and Movie) You Should Know: The Hiding Place

Monday, April 24, was this year’s Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Remembrance Day. There are a great many books on the subject, from The Diary of Anne Frank to MAUS and beyond. But one of my long-time favorites is the story of a family recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous among the Nations” for their work in saving Dutch Jews: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, with John and Elizabeth Sherrill.

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Star Wars: Top 8 List for Episode VIII

Top 8 Questions after watching the new trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

8. Is Disney borrowing from their Marvel well to add wall crawling to Rey's abilities because normal Jedi powers aren't cool enough already?
#8 – Is Disney dipping into its Marvel well to make Rey a wall crawler because normal Jedi powers aren’t cool enough already?

#7 - The first lines heard are "Breath, just breathe." Is Luke reviving the lost Jedi art of Lamaze coaching? Do the words "Captain Phasma is pregnant" excite anyone else?!
#7 – The first lines are “Breath, just breath.” Is Luke reviving the lost Jedi art of Lamaze coaching? Do the words “Captain Phasma is pregnant” excite anyone else?!

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