Friday, January 5, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Review part 2

I took the advice of the director and watched the movie a second time. I hope to recall all the things I didn't like about this move. I get a lot of flak from my family telling me that I am just not please-able or that my expectations are too high. Personally, I think they are too forgiving when it comes to pandering to the audience, and making excuses just because it's Star Wars. Again, this is just my opinion...

The opening crawl: I think the angle of the text and speed of the opening crawl wasn't consistent with the OT (Original Trilogy). It literally hurt my eyes looking at it during my first time viewing.

Opening battle: The First Order Officers and General Hux felt like they were "Playacting". I am watching this interaction and I am instantly transported to a home video of a bunch of kids playing make believe. General Hux's villainy and intimidation that was developed in TFA was lost in this film. He became sniveling, and comical.  Very unfortunate.

Snoke's hologram appearance: I was impressed and pleased to see that Snoke could manipulate the Force from where ever he was and attack Hux. This is very reminiscent of Vader in ESB killing Admiral Ozzel through the view screen. However, the whole scene turned comical (in a bad way) when Hux was slammed to the floor with a shriek, spun around (insert children laughing here).

Opening battle: Paige kicking the ladder to get the button that releases the first real WTF moment. In the upwards shot we see the button barley dangling over the edge, and the ladder opposite. In this last dire moment,  seconds before death and loosing the entire battle, Paige lays there, making no effort to get up and climb the ladder, but rely's solely on kicking the ladder (slowly) hoping that it would be enough for the button to jiggle off the edge....seriously? This totally slows the pacing for this scene. High intense action, switch to slow hopeless kicking, back to intense action, then back to slow, tedious kicking...I hated this.
  On a side note...why did the Rebels attack the Dreadnought with so many bombers when all it took was one bomber to blow the whole ship up? It was almost like the Resistance assumed they would loose the whole fleet ahead of time, so they threw everything out there deliberately, in the dire hopes that at least one would make it through...Contradicts everything already established.

Finn waking up: hitting his head on the bubble shield, falling off the table, and walking around with the bacta water (which should've been red) spilling out everywhere was dumb (Insert more kids laughing audio track). I get that it was supposed to be comedic relief and funny for some, but it just continues to make Finn the bumbling cartoon character. Being a constant klutz makes your character weaker and annoying to the audience. These are his Jar Jar Binks moments.Why do you think his character was the only one left on toy shelf's?

Meeting Rose: Hearing Rose crying and her interaction with Finn felt very cartoon-y. It isn't serious and I feel like I am watching a kids TV show. Everything is dumb'ed down and over the top. This isn't a film for adults. Finn isn't a real person but someone who is constantly "on display". Like, watching Jim Carry in Ace Ventura. Rose and Finn figuring out how the First Order is tracking them simultaneously made it too simple (despite the scene directly before that saying how impossible and new this tech is, but these two, figure out how to do it in two seconds, my other WTF moment) (more Children laughing audio track).

First Order Attack on Resistance after Hyper Jump: Leia demotes Poe and tells him he is no leader, cannot resolve everything by blowing it up and finishes with telling Poe that he is the LAST thing they need right now. Then the First Order attacks. He asks for permission to blow stuff up, and Leia gives him the OK, completely undermining everything she just said. Her correct response should have been "Denied". He cannot be trusted to follow orders, and he just proved that he is more likely to get more good hero's killed. He's a great pilot, but again, the last thing they need right now. This undermines Leia's strong character.
     The first order blows up the ships hanger, destroying all the fighters making it a moot point anyways. Bridge of the Resistance ship being blown out, and all officers, Generals, etc. being blown out to space, Including Princess Leia. This would have been a real good spot to loose Leia, except instead we get another WTF moment with this ridiculous shot of Marry Poppins Leia. I am all for seeing Leia using the force. The things that didn't work for me was the image of Leia seemingly unconscious due to lack of oxygen and freezing in the sub 200 degree space, only to wake up and pull herself back into the ship. The special affects were terrible, and this whole flying through space just looked ridiculous. It was comical. I can believe she used the force to save herself. What doesn't make sense is how she was unconscious, then suddenly "awake" so she could pull herself back to the ship only to be suddenly unconsciousness again now that she is back on the ship. Are we to believe that the Force inside her acted on its own in the effort of self preservation? That's not what we established the force is.

Running out of fuel plot device: How come the laws of physics don't apply to Star Wars space? If the ships ran out of fuel, they would maintain their direction and speed for eternity. The ships wouldn't stop and float lifelessly backwards. There is no gravity or wind resistance in space that would slow an object that is moving. But let's ignore all that. The First Order pulls back its fighters because the resistance ships are just too far head to cover them safely (looks pretty close to me). Cover them how, exactly? All the fighters, as far as I know, have always been on-their-own when it comes to space battles. It's not Independence Day where the mother ship controls and protects all the ships. This really doesn't make sense, but let's ignore that too. How come the First order doesn't call in more ships to cut off the Resistance's path? They certainly had the time to do so. Ignore that as well. How come the First Order didn't speed up to get closer so their lasers where more effective and maintain cover for their fighters? Are we really to believe that Snoke's ships top speed is exactly the same as the smaller Resistance Ships maintaining a constant distance between them? Why wasn't the plan for the Resistance to jump into hyperspace, stop. Evacuate, then have lead ship jump again? Everyone would be in smaller untrackable ships, and the First Order would maintain following the lead ship away from the Resistance.

Sub-plot to Casino: Watching Maz battle it out while relaying the info the sub-plot needs, was like the plot devise of a video game. Maz isn't too busy to help these guys out with all the info they need while she is literally being shot at. The team has no concern for her or distracting her, they just need this info. Maz touches her shoulder and instantly the computer knows that she means lapel and the make and model the master code breaker wears for easy identification...(shakes my head in disbelief). LAME.
   Another WTF moment is the whole idea of the sub-mission to the original mission. Seriously? They are going to have a mission, to a distant planet, in the hopes in finding a master-code-breaker (which Rose says very loudly in the Casino, as if, again, there is no real threat, ever), to bring back with them to the slowest space chase, to sneak onto Snoke's ship, locate the room that has the tracker in it and disable it...? How do they have the time to do this? They are pressing on the audience that the fuel level is critical in the Resistance ships, but we have time to go find the master-code-breaker? If we are following this sub-plot timeline, with Rey's timeline...this chase is taking days. Maybe even a week. So they have enough fuel or a weeks long chase, and this is considered "low"?
   How come when Finn sees all the glitz and glamour of the Casino life that he instantly forgets his mission and is ready to sit down to a game of cards? How do Rose and Finn waltz right in and not attract any attention? How come when Rose and Finn get arrested (For legitimate reasons) they are not afraid that they are not going to make it back in time? How come after they escape prison, they forget about their mission to obtain the code-breaker? What is DJ's motivation for helping Rose and Finn that he rescues them? How did BB-8 end up with more gold coins inside him than was seemingly physically possible? I mean, ha ha. It's funny, right? The Leprechaun mistook BB-8 for a coin machine. But BB-8 isn't empty. There wouldn't be this cavity inside him that would be able to hold all these coins.
   The subplot did focus on war profiteering and exploitation of kids and animals. Fine. However, this subplot felt like that was the whole point. If you strip the agenda away of what the scene were trying to convey, it didn't add anything to the movie. It didn't move the movie along. Everything that happened was independent of our Hero's story and journey. Ignoring all that, everything about the Casino scenes were a joke. Everything was supposed to be funny every step of the way. There was no real danger or threat. Being closelined by a string of lights didn't knock off our Hero's from their steeds, it was just more time for Finn to be our comedic relief.  Finally, finding another code-breaker completely contracted everything Maz set up before hand of that there was only the one guy who could do it.
  In the end, Rose and Finn say "it was worth it to hurt them". Let's think about that...How were these war profiteers hurt? The Casino isn't their place of business, it's their game room. Where they go for entertainment. All the animals that they let go I am sure have trackers in them and will be rounded up shortly. Which is more likely the reason the Police instructed the other officers to let the herd go, and focus on Rose and Finn. In all honesty, they probably accomplished nothing, except for getting felony charges (illegal parking, escape, destruction of property, theft of livestock, assault on an officer, etc. etc.). The Casino is insured. The animals will be rounded back up, business will continue, uninterrupted.

Luke wanting to Kill Kylo: Luke has already been established and being unable to kill his family. He could not kill Anakin despite being Darth Vader. His decision wasn't souly based on that he saw good in Vader, but more because it was his father. "I cannot do it, Ben. I cannot kill my own father." Luke felt good in Anakin and used it as his own justification why he didn't need to kill vader, which turned into a real goal. Why did Luke, even in a moments thought, think about Killing his nephew? I get the story was written that it was a brief thought, and instantly regretted it, but as-s his character has been set up that the thought never would have entered his mind. Now, if we saw that Luke regretted trying to save his father, and the flaw in his original thinking, maybe we could buy into this 180 thinking here, but instead we are to rely on our own justification that over the last thirty years Luke has changed. Luke did say in Jedi after Yoda died that he didn't think he could do it on his own. Rian J. could have used that more in Luke's decision to turn hermit after his temple was destroyed and Kylo turned to the Dark side. "I told you I couldn't do it Ben". Luke still not believing in the force, which is why he still fails.

Finally Revealing the Plan to Poe: I totally get that Holdo didn't tell Poe this plan ahead of time. She, in her position had no obligation to tell him. Telling him would have undermined her authority. However, others clearly knew of the plan as it was being put into motion. He could have asked just about anyone else what was going on. The whole resistance plan was to buy enough time to get close enough to a nearby planet, where the Resistance could escape in shuttles and sneak down to the planet unnoticed. WTF? This really isn't much of a plan. Cannot the First Order see this planet a head of them? The whole time Hux is guessing their course of action and making decisions (which is what one does in his position), but he cannot guess that the Resistance is flying to the planet, that is right in front of their path? No comment of "let's get them before they reach the planet"? He just assumes they will all stay in the large lead ship till they run out fuel to get blown up? Really? He doesn't suspect that they would try to escape using cloaking devices? I mean, they have the tech to scan for cloaked ships, but this doesn't occur to Hux? What happened to "impossible! no ship that small has a cloaking device" when Needa was referring to the Millennium Falcon? These escape shuttles are much smaller. How did they get fitted with a cloaking devise? Let's ignore that. Cannot they physically see these shuttles? Again, I repeat, the Resistance isn't that much farther ahead of Snoke's ship. Any Scout fighters should have been able to see these ships.

Captain Phasma: WTF! how did she survive the destruction of Starkiller Base? Course, if you actually watch that movie, you should conclude that there wasn't time for ANYONE who survived to make it off in time. Something else to ignore. She's cool, and I would have liked to see more Phasma. However, she goes out like a punk, just like Boba Fett. She is standing right next to Finn when Holdo fly's through their ship, killing every single Stormtrooper nearby. Miraculously, Rose and Finn are unharmed. Then we get yet another WTF shot. Phasma and a legion of troopers approaching Finn and Rose from a distance. Were they not just standing next to them them everyone else was killed? How did they end up there? How come they were not hurt? Oh well, it's a great cinematography though, so we'll forgive this plot hole. Finn and Phasma fight, which is over as fast as it starts. She gets knocked to the ground and then stares up and Finn...defeated...I didn't like this moment. This exchange made me yawn. We are just standing and staring at each other...waiting...for...what? Oh, the floor to fall away...yawn...
   BB-8 saves the day in a AT-ST, which I already assumed he was controlling, but the audience needed to see BB-8 so the head of the Scout walker gets ripped off pretty easily to reveal it's him. Rose and Finn hop on the walker for what is the worst green-screen CG in the film. How are they holding on as the walker runs to the only shuttle still intact? How come there doesn't appear to be any room for the three of them to be sitting on this walker? The scene is full of great visuals, and lots of "look at us, we are cool" shots, but we (or me), as the audience, don't feel that Finn and Rose are in any real danger. I am never concerned that they are not going to make it. Them getting out of danger takes no effort or sacrifice. I get that a theme in the story was learning from failure. Which I see here, that their mission failed. That's fine. It get's to be bad when it's wrapped up like "oh that was fun, let's forget about everything we just did and go back to the main story". They audience then asks, "What was the point of all that?"

Abandoned Rebel Base: WTF! Why is Leia just standing there with the door open? They should have shut that door as soon as everyone was in. Closing the door when they did was obviously too late because a First Order ship managed to make its way into the base and do quite a bit of damage. If this ship was really filled with Stromtroopers, they could have been in real trouble, fast. Once Rose and Finn pop up with their hands raised, to remind the audience that this pair is the comedic relief (in a eye rolling up to the back of your head kind of way), I realized why the plot needed them to leave the doors open. Disney had to get Rose and Finn back somehow. More Disney Cartoon story telling.

Attack on Rebel Base: Yea!...More Walkers! (said sarcastically). Ever since we saw them in ESB, they have been in almost every movie since. Sure, they where and are cool, but their needs to be a Strategic reason to them to be used. They don't need to be constantly recycled in these movies to make it a Star Wars movie. We've seen walkers, they have been to death, I want to see something NEW.
   The rebels hop in these beater ships, that were more likely just abandoned there in the base, as if they offered some kind of hope in battling the First Order. Just looking at them it looked like a suicide mission. What was their plan anyways? To take out the battering ram? You realize that these ships never fired one shot? The Resistance just drove out there, got half way, then turned around. I ask myself "what was the point of that other than to get more people killed for nothing?"
   Then there is Finn, going to sacrifice himself to save everyone else...great move. Somehow the laser ram doesn't completely destroy Finn's ship and he is going to fly into it, only to get knocked away by Rose. WTF! You realize that Rose would have to have flown faster than Finn to catch up, turn to the left to intersect Finn at that moment? We just established that they were not going to make it to the ram before being destroyed, which is why Poe and everyone else turn back. But not only did Finn make it, but Rose did too. Why didn't Rose shoot the Ram instead? Did Rose not realize that she could have killed both herself and Finn in this Crash? Is she really that selfish that she would potentially let everyone else die in order to save Finn? Didn't her little speech and action contradict her sisters sacrifice, Holdo's sacrifice, and even Luke's?

All this to say, the movie has a lot of issues that take away from my overall enjoyment of the film as a whole. These issues get repeated over and over again in each movie. I really don't get how the powers that be, watch these movie and say "that's what we want. This is good. The fans will love this" It's not good. It's lazy and sloppy writing and storytelling. Great visuals, great battles, great fights, terrible story. It adds drama and conflict, where there shouldn't be. In the end it's the terrible story plot that makes this movie bad. It's kids Saturday Morning cartoon TV show that is trying to be a live action movie. I wasn't excited about the Last Jedi, and I am even less excited to see any more Star Wars movies.

I have to conclude that My Star Wars is just three movies: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi (and maybe Rouge One). All other the other Star Wars movies are for a different generation.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Nightmare Before Christmas Sally Puppet face FAKE...?

(left face is genuine, right is face is in question)

An auction popped up offering a replacement face for Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, that caught my eye. Not in a good way. This face claims it's an original Prop, however I have my doubts.

I contacted the seller regarding my concerns, but my email went ignored. So, I put it to you. Do you think this is a fake?

Here are my tells that make me think this is a fake (or a recast off an original).

1. The eye lids are cast into the face. In the auction itself shows a photo of Sally next to her eye lids.
(original photo showing eye lids are cast separate)

They were ALL cast separate to provide more versatility in facial expressions when animating.

2. There are NO markings on the back to indicate where this face was to be used by the animator during filming. All faces should be marked so the animator knew when to use which face to line up with the dialogue.

3. The Paint colors and style doesn't match other genuine screen-used faces that have popped up.

4. The last thing that sticks out to me, is literally her tongue. I have watched that movie figuratively a million times, and have no recollection of Sally having a tongue. Now that doesn't mean she didn't. If this face is a recast of an original, then she would have somewhere. But for the life of me, I cannot think where she would have had this facial pose anywhere in the film.

Personally, I would save your money. I believe it's a replica.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

I stayed away from all spoilers or information on the movie before it was released. I didn't want to know and mostly, I didn't care. However, after the movie was released I was very interested in reviews. Honest reviews. From fans. Not paid-for-critic reviews that one may find on RT. From what people where saying, it was a even split between "loved it" and "hated it". What I found interesting was all the reasons that were given for why someone "hated it", the same people who said "loved it" agreed, they didn't like that part either. That tells me everyone who watched the new movie didn't like all the exact same things. For some, all those things were deal breakers. Others were able to ignore and overlook all the bad things.

So, You ask me:
1. All-in-all was it a bad movie?
  Yes and no.
2. Was it entertaining?
  Yes, which is why I would say it wasn't a completely bad movie.
3. Did it disappoint?
  Yes and no. The action was great. Fun battles, fights, etc. Take all that away, and what is left is pretty disappointing.
4. Was it a rehash of ESB?
  For the most part, no. However, there were very obvious moments taken straight from ESB and ROTJ.

My overall impression of the movie was that it felt like I was watching a Disney Cartoon made for kids. I am not talking Pixar good, I mean, like, Wednesday mornings watching the Disney Channel. I was watching a bunch of people trying to play Star Wars and recorded it on their home video. Does that make sense? There were actors who are "over acting" their roles. Over-the-top, way passed realism-acting to Slapstick-comical-acting. Then on the other side of the spectrum, there was "under acting", where it was dry and stale, like you could tell the actor has no idea how to portray realism. With a few moments of "We're not taking this movie seriously" acting.
It was still better than the Prequels. However, the story and plot was a mess just like the Prequels. The pacing was off by how it was edited together. Lots of moments that should have been cut from the film. More than a few "WTF" moments (not to be confused with "disappointed because it didn't meet expectations", but genuine "that was really stupid, and nonsensical in any universe". I hate to say it, but I think I liked the Force Awakens better.

I didn't like Poe in TFA, and liked his character even less in this film. I cannot stand Finn's character, he's almost as pointless and annoying as Jar Jar Binks (but not as bad). I like Finn when he's being serious, but cannot stand him as the comedy relief. I liked Benicio Del Toro, despite that whole sub plot being totally pointless to the progression of the film. I liked Luke, Rey, Chewy, & Kylo. They all did great jobs and  really made the film stronger. Without them, this film would have not worked on any level. Yoda looked less like ESB Yoda and more like CG Clone Wars Yoda. It was great choice to use the puppet, but his sculpt was terrible and his little dance jig was ridiculous. Sure, it might be funny for three-year-olds, but just stupid for adults to watch in ANY movie.

The costumes were far less distracting, but still felt more out of the Star Trek universe than Star Wars. The weapons still looked like large clunky plastic toys. The ship designs were still boring and forgettable. The V-4X-D Ski Speeder was influenced by the B-Wing, but in its application on the salt planet, I could not for the life of me understand why they used an open cockpit speeder. All the salt the speeder was kicking up would just fly in their face, blinding them. I mean, they were not even wearing goggles! Even the Snowspeeder pilots had shields to protect their eyes, and they did have a closed cockpit...and..I sorry, when did Finn learn how to fly? Wasn't the whole point of TFA was that Finn was incapable of flying?

After reading and watching reviews and watching the film itself, I honestly don't have much hope or excitement for the remaining installments of the Star Wars movies that Disney has planned. It's going to be like the Transformers films. Everyone WANTS to see a good Star Wars film. The opening weekend box office numbers prove that. But to keep that gravy train on track, they need to put out GOOD movies, not just crap with the Star Wars Brand name on it. The powers that be thought Transformers must be a great movie 'cause the money is there. So they made more. All the fans wanted and hoped for a good Transformers movie hung in there. But slowly and surely, they dropped off from the franchise, because they were constantly given bad Transformer movies. Same principle applies to Star Wars. The fans are there. The loyalty is there. You can give us something different. You can be totally left field of our expectations. All you have to do is stay cannon to the previous films, and above all, make a good movie.

If they continue to make sub-par Star Wars movies, the box office numbers will continue to drop, to the point of non-profitable, and people will come to hate Star Wars. But, that's just my opinion.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Stopmotion Puppet Armatures

I know there are a few animators who want a armature but don't know how to go about making on or getting one custom made for their puppet.

Here is a list on where you can get a armature for your puppet:

Kinetic Armatures:
   8" Armature 195.00€ ($231.00ish)
   6" Armature 185.00€ ($219.00ish)
or Custom sizes

Armaverse Armature:
    6" Armature $139.75

Animation Supplies:
    Animators Aluminum Wire
    9-7/16" Wire Armature £34.99 ($53.64ish)

Conversion Sizes (+/-)
14cm = 5-1/2"
15.2cm = 6"
16cm = 6-5/16"
18cm = 7-1/16"
19cm = 7-1/2"
20cm = 7-7/8"
21cm = 8-5/16"
22cm = 8-11/16"
22.5cm = 8-7/8"
23.9cm = 9-7/16"
25cm = 9-7/8"
28cm = 11"
45.7cm = 18"
60cm = 24"

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Nightmare Before Christmas Shock (Witch) Mask Prop

Propstore of London is offering a resin casting of Shocks mask. It was cast during production but ultimately never used/finished (Similar store of the Lock Mask).

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Life as a Zucchini

I just found this stop-motion film while shopping at Target. Think I may have to pick it up.

Aardman Early Man Movie

Director Nick Park is bad with another movie, Early Man by Aardman.
Looking forward to this film. I love the stuff that Aardman makes. Good stories, humor and lovable characters.