The Trouble With Tenet: Tenet Review

The pandemic has thoroughly wrecked my usual form of movie entertainment. Before going into lockdown in March, one of my favorite things to do was call up a few friends and go see the latest movies at our local theater.

Yeah, that’s been out the window for a while now.

When Tenet was announced to be releasing in theaters, I possessed mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I was thrilled at the notion of a Christopher Nolan movie premiering at theaters. A Nolan film is typically a fantastic thing to see on the big screen, an absolute must-watch of the movie season.

On the other hand, none of my local theaters were reopening anytime soon and even if they did, my stress levels and concern for my health would prevent me from seeing Tenet in them. So the news of its release also brought about its fair share of disappointment.

However, my spirits were raised thanks to my boyfriend suggesting we rent it on Redbox when it came out there, and we’d watch it together, make it a movie-date-night kind of thing safe from home.

I love my boyfriend, I love Christopher Nolan movies, and I love watching Christopher Nolan movies with my boyfriend. Sounded like a recipe for a pleasant evening.

As I waited for the day when Tenet released, I refused to read any reviews about the movie. However, one day, I caved and read some of the comments below an ad for the movie while scrolling through Instagram. (I should know better than to read the comments section by now.) Most of these strangers who took the time to type up a response on this ad were complaining about Tenet, saying it was just too confusing.

Now, I’d seen both Inception and Interstellar, so I scoffed at these remarks, knowing I could handle any complex plot Christopher Nolan could throw at me.

Boy, was I wrong.

I can now personally attest to the messy tangle of Tenet’s plot. The movie is basically a clever concept poorly executed and explained in a terrible fashion.

Normally, whenever I review a movie, I’ll provide a brief synopsis of the film, giving you a chance to learn about the story if you haven’t seen it yet.

Tenet’s story is so complicated, I actually leaned back in my chair while writing the outline for this post, absolutely stumped on how to go about explaining it.

Essentially, a man gets hired by a group (I think) to stop a time war that is about to happen thanks to another unknown group from the future (I think) sending items that can go back in time (I think) to the present in order to start or end this war (I think).

This is kind of conjecture, and I’ve seen the movie.

Tenet goes beyond Inception when it comes to how complicated the plot and story mechanics are. In Inception, rules were laid out for moviegoers to follow, and you could visually understand certain aspects about moving through a person’s dreams thanks to the power of filmmaking.

The character of Arthur from Inception spends a lot of time explaining to Ariadne, a newcomer to the dream-thief business, how things work in the dream world. As he explains things to her, he is explaining them to us. Having a rookie character in a story can help you as a storyteller more easily explain complex notions to people. They learn as your character learn.

And the film itself visually showcases how things going on in the real world can affect things in the dream world. It does so in small bursts, such as when a character needs a kick to get out of a dream, and they get jolted awake in the real world. However, Inception also showcases these moments in stunning visual displays, such as when Arthur must fight in a hotel hallway while in the dream level above him there is zero gravity.

Tenet has a barebones moment where “time traveling” is explained, but the notion is so beyond comprehension, it’s not enough to swallow the later events of the movie.

The main character of Tenet, imaginatively named Protagonist (no, I’m not joking), is shown an “inverted” object. It’s a thing that moves backward through time. For example, an inverted bullet gets fired back into a gun and an inverted ball leaps back into your hand.

Right off the bat, I can’t wrap my head around how this works. Protagonist implies it’s half thought, half physical action that makes this happen. But showing me Protagonist as he fires a gun that sucks a bullet back up does not explain to me how it works.

And that is the simplest example of going-backwards-in-time that the film shows you. Once fistfights, car chases, and murders start happening in reverse time, it gets even harder to understand the mechanics of this time travel.

And it didn’t help that when things are explained, they’re using words like “inverted entropy.” The whole movie requires captions to be turned on (which my boyfriend considers a cardinal sin when watching a film that is meant to be viewed without words scrolling across the bottom).

Aside from the convoluted mechanics of inverted time, Tenet also suffers from one glaring issue: it has no heart.

Nolan has covered mind-bending concepts in his films before, from faulty memory in Memento to dream-incepting in Inception. But one thing you could always count on in these past films was a strong emotional connection to the main character. Leonard Shelby was driven by an urge to seek revenge for the murder of his wife. Dominick Cobb is desperate to clear his name so he can see his children again. Interstellar’s entire story is practically driven by Cooper’s love for his daughter.

Tenet is missing that emotional thread that kept us invested in the intellectual twists and turns of Nolan’s other films. Protagonist is a bad-ass, but he’s a blank slate. I relate more to John Wick for his love of his puppy than I do to Protagonist.

Sure, we know Protagonist is a good guy. He’s working to save the world and its future after all. But he is missing that emotional element that would keep me rooting for him aside from a general interest in the survival of humanity.

Side note: Jeez, I sound like an uncaring person, but I hope you guys know what I mean.

Tenet is an intriguing film to watch, definitely one that’ll keep you thinking the entire time, but it is difficult to comprehend and connect to the protagonist’s journey on several layers.

I rate Tenet an avoid-if-you-don’t-want-to-spend-hours-watching-explanation-videos-afterwards-and-if-you-don’t-like-subtitles-because-man-this-movie-requires-you-to-have-them-on.

The Meaning of Life: Soul Review

I watched two movies this past Christmas, both of which released that very day directly to audiences at home. One of them was Wonder Woman 1984. After my last post, we both know how that turned out. The other was Soul.

And I just want to say how lucky I was that I chose to watch Soul after Wonder Woman 1984. There was no bitter taste left in my movie-watching mouth when I went to bed that night, all thanks to Pixar’s latest film.

Soul is a delightful movie that shares a great message, a message that I didn’t see coming until quite a ways through the story. (And I freakin’ loved that.)

Joe Gardner is a jazz pianist who finally catches a break when he signs up to do a gig with a famed saxophonist. Unfortunately for him, almost as soon as he finds out he got the job, he suffers a near-death experience. When he “wakes up,” he finds himself approaching the light.

Refusing to accept this fate, Joe leaps away from the Great Beyond and ends up in a place termed the Great Before. It’s a place where souls congregate before going down to Earth to inhabit newborn bodies. Desperate to make his way back to his comatose body on Earth, Joe learns he needs something called an Earth pass to make the dive.

He agrees to mentor Soul 22, a soul that has just refused to gain her Earth pass because she does not want to go through the trials and tribulations of being alive. They enter into an arrangement where Soul 22 will find her “Spark,” thus gaining her Earth pass, and then give it to Joe so he can return to his body.

That’s the basic premise, and it’s such a fascinating concept all on its own. But Soul does not rely solely on the premise to hook viewers. It follows through with a touching story about what it means to be alive.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, so I highly recommend that if you haven’t seen Soul, stop reading right now. I refuse to go further into plot, but I do want to talk about the major theme of the film.

See, Joe believes that he was born to play jazz piano. He loves it more than practically anything. When he learns about Sparks, he ties that to someone’s purpose in life. He knows without a shadow of a doubt that piano-playing is his spark, his reason for being alive.

However, as Soul goes on to show us, Joe really is missing the whole point of being alive.

Soul does for living what Inside Out did for emotions. Inside Out’s major revelation showcased that Sadness is a vital emotion when it comes to expressing empathy or seeking help from other human beings. It slowly built this point up over the course of the story, showing how Riley was not getting the help she needed because Sadness was not allowed to take the reins for a time.

Soul reveals to us that there is no materialistic or purpose-driven Spark that readies a soul for life on Earth. All it takes is a passion for the joys of living and an appreciation for the sensations you can only experience by being alive. You don’t need to be a skilled pianist or a talented sports player to justify your existence.

And I have to admit, I didn’t see this message coming, even though after a second viewing, I could see the moments where it was readily apparent. I kept waiting for the reveal of what Soul 22’s Spark was going to be. Would it be teaching? Would it be as simple as communicating with other people? I was ignorant of where the story was leading me until a character outright told me about the silliness of getting hung up on “purposes.”

It’s a hefty concept, and I’ve heard more than one person say that Soul is not a movie meant for kids. Personally, I think those people underestimate the kinds of themes a kid can handle. (Though I do think a kid might find Soul an ounce more boring than, let’s say, The Incredibles.)

I rate Soul a balm-for-the-soul-especially-when-you-have-the-tendency-to-question-why-you’re-alive-and-what’s-your-purpose-in-existing.

Watching The Blob

I have a fondness for old movies.

Side note: I also have a fondness for saying “I have a fondness” for things. I feel like I’ve done this a million times in a million different posts. Sorry about that.

A week ago, I spent a happy evening on the couch with the boyf watching The Blob. For those of you who haven’t heard of this gem, it’s a campy old horror movie from 1958 about a (I kid you not) gelatinous blob that attacks a town. As you can guess, the movie is utterly ridiculous, but I had a fantastic time watching it.

I mean, seriously, it’s a blob. It’s a gelatinous blob. It starts off about the size of my hand, and it eventually grows to be the size of a local movie theater. The origins of the Blob remain largely unclear. You know it came from space, but that’s about it. What also remains unclear is how exactly it consumes its victims.

At the beginning of the movie, it attaches itself to this old man’s hand, and thanks to the power of editing, it starts growing larger and larger. We never see it grow though. It’s like you blink and it’s suddenly larger.

We rarely see it move either. You’ll see it pulse or edge forward, but there’s never really a good time where its motion is captured on video. (Except for this one scene where it seeps under a crack in a door. That was awesome.)

This adds to the hilarity, because all the townsfolk who encounter it have to be on the ground for it to get them. I know it’s a horror trope to trip at the most inconvenient times, but this movie makes it even more ridiculous. At least two women trip on nothing. They’re indoors, for crying out loud. There are no leaves, roots, or sidewalk cracks to mess with their shoes. And when they’re on the ground screaming, they don’t even try to crawl away. They just keep shrieking.

Eventually, the Blob gets big enough to swallow buildings, and that’s when the movie reaches its climax.

However, before I dive into the finale, I should probably spare a thought or two to our completely forgettable cast of characters. The Blob introduces us to Steve and Jane, two “teenagers” who should win awards for looking 20 years older than teenagers. They are purportedly two sweethearts in love, but the movie opens up in an incredibly off-putting fashion. Jane is uncomfortably telling Steve she’s not ready to move so fast (they’re kissing in a car), and Steve awkwardly agreeing to slow down.

And then we cut to a meteor falling and Steve suggesting they go investigate it.

Couldn’t they have come up with a better way to start the story?

What then follows is some of the strangest dialogue I’ve ever heard in an old movie. I’m normally fond of that affected accent you hear in old-timey films, but in The Blob, that accent is coupled with the weirdest non sequiturs I’ve ever heard. It’s like the writers didn’t know how people talk. Or maybe I’m just not used to white man colloquialisms. Who knows?

Steve and Jane are joined by some raucous young boys (they’re men, seriously, they look so old) and some small-town cops to comprise the main cast. Steve’s fellow teenage males all give off this macho vibe, so much so that you can’t tell if they’re angry at him or if they’re best buds. And the cops are either down-with-all-teenagers or I’m-your-best-friend-you-can-trust-me types.

Side note: There’s this pretty hilarious moment where one of the cops looks right at the camera when he’s talking, and it’s a gut-bustingly incongruous action.

Anyway, the Blob ends up being averse to cold temperatures, as Steve and Jane find out when they hide from it in a meat locker. They notice that it retreats from attacking them. This information comes in handy later on when they’re trapped in a diner that the Blob has enveloped. Just when it looks like all hope is lost, they realize they can chase it off of the building by spraying fire extinguishers at it.

An army of local teenage boys who were not there for the entire movie show up to break into the high school, steal a bunch of fire extinguishers, and help free Steve and Jane from the diner.

The Blob shrinks down a bit, and the movie concludes by showing a helicopter traveling to Antarctica where it’s going to drop off the Blob so it can never hurt anyone again.

Which is one way to deal with a piece of jelly from outer space.

The Blob is not the best old movie I’ve ever seen, but it does have its moments. It’s an enjoyable watch, but you will have to remember that it is a campy movie not meant to be taken too seriously.

However, I do think it would be really cool if someone made a modern-day reboot and turned it into a legitimately scary movie. Like if that game Carrion were to be mashed together with The Blob and The Thing, I think we’d have a whole new classic on our hands.

No Eyes Will Stay Dry: A Silent Voice Review

I’m a mild to moderate manga reader and anime watcher. Like, I’ve read all of Death Note, but I’ve never read Bleach. I’ve watched a chunk of Naruto, but I haven’t even scratched the surface of Attack on Titan.

That said, I have friends who are avid manga and anime consumers. They are the ones who reproach me for never having seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or for reading an issue of Shonen Jump. They also advise me on absolutely everything I should be watching/reading.

Side note: Demon Slayer is apparently really, really good.

Of all my friends who watch anime, my good buddy Bubba is probably the best. (Hey, shaka brah!)

Since this whole pandemic started, we’ve been watching movies with each other using Discord or Xbox Live. From Blade Runner to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, we’re chewing through films.

One of the movies we settled to watch was A Silent Voice, an anime film made in 2016 that hits you right in the feels. As of this writing, it is on Netflix.

It’s honestly a very touching story. Using blunt symbolism and dialogue left unspoken, A Silent Voice dives into tough subjects like bullying and depression. I approached this movie with absolutely no expectations, and by the time the credits rolled, I had to wipe my eyes and sniff snot back up my nostrils.

Needless to say, I thought the film was good.

The plot revolves around a boy named Shoya, who was a merciless bully to a fellow student named Shoko. Shoko is deaf, and it is this that forms the basis for her getting bullied. Egged on by his “friends” and classmates, Shoya is relentless in being mean to this girl.

However, after leaving middle school and entering high school, things have changed. Shoya elects to make up for what he’s done to Shoko, and spends the rest of the film desperately trying to make amends.

I seriously don’t want to spoil the ending, so I won’t detail how this situation is resolved, but it is a damn roller coaster of emotions.

The genre of the film is clearly slice-of-life, focusing on Shoya and Shoko’s teenage and childhood years. In the grand scheme of things, nothing dramatic or remarkable happens, but the emotional revelations the story places in your lap are enough to keep you engrossed in what’s going on.

A Silent Voice is based on a manga, so, as with anything that gets adapted into a film, there are parts that feel unexplained or rushed. While some might take this as a con of the movie, I feel like it contributes to the concept of peeking at the flashes of Shoya’s life.

That leads to one of the major draws of the movie. The manner in which the characters are examined perfectly encapsulates the overall message of the story. You don’t always know what is going on with a person below the surface. The film successfully conveys this in the way it gets you to (eventually) sympathize with a bully. Plus, there is a near-end-of-the-movie twist that emphasizes that point even further, showing that just because a person looks happy doesn’t mean they’re not struggling.

While it can get heavy-handed, the symbolism in the film is one of its strengths. At one point, Shoya feels like he can’t interact with other people without hurting himself or them. He effectively cuts himself off from socializing with classmates. The film demonstrates this by having every person who isn’t Shoya’s family bear a giant X on their faces. Shoya never meets their eyes, and the movie ensures that viewers can’t as well. This feature of the film is one that only an anime could successfully pull off.

Needless to say, the story covers some triggering topics, with suicide being referred to several times. I think it is handled well, especially with the notion that no life is worthless being incredibly stressed by the end of the film. Anyone can come back from the edge, and while forgiveness does not come easily, it can be found in the unlikeliest of places. Though I did cry, the movie’s end left me with a positive feeling.

Bubba and I like to make jokes throughout our movie-watching, but A Silent Voice managed to temper them. It’s a sobering and poignant story.

I rate it a silent-and-resounding-success-that-should-be-seen-at-least-once.

My Top 5 Favorite RELAXING Horror Movies

I know what you’re thinking. Horror? Relaxing? Surely you kid.

Nope!

Though horror films are meant to thrill, scare, and discomfit us, there are a handful of movies I enjoy watching in my downtime.

As everyone who reads this should know by now, I’m a big rewatcher, and familiarity breeds comfort.

Each of these five films are classic horror movies, but as I’ve seen each of them more than once, they have become as relaxing as a day spa to me.

Side note: I’ve never been to a day spa.

Let’s dive into them then! Who knows? They could end up becoming your de-stressing, go-to movies too.

The Shining

Based on Stephen King’s illustrious novel, the film covers a family isolated in a hotel that is closed for the winter months, and they must not only deal with the physical isolation permeating the empty halls, but with an evil that creeps among them too.

I can’t even remember the first time I saw The Shining. I feel like it’s been a part of my life for years now. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s a masterpiece of long tracking shots, uncomfortable silences, and sublime terror.

I love showing this movie to friends when I have the opportunity, and when I’m by myself, I really enjoy watching it on cold days with a warm cup of coffee in my hands.

The Thing

An Antarctic research station happens upon a frozen alien life-form with the ability to mimic organic matter down to the cellular level, causing mayhem and paranoia among the men trapped with it, as they no longer know who they can trust.

This movie only recently made it onto my list. I first saw it years ago, but because it had been so long since I had seen it, the details of the plot were hazy. However, while visiting my boyfriend in LA (way before this whole social distancing thing happened), we found a Blu-Ray of it at a Barnes & Noble. And you can bet I bought that baby right on the spot.

Since I haven’t seen The Thing as often as the other movies on this list, it still has the power to creep me out. If I have the house to myself, I’ll pop it on for an afternoon of grotesque and horrific fun.

The Exorcist

When her daughter becomes seemingly possessed by a demonic spirit and all other possibilities are exhausted, one mother finally turns to a priest for help in saving her child.

My own mother shudders at the mere mention of The Exorcist. She actually crosses herself when she sees the movie’s cover. (Which, if I’m being honest, is actually a pretty creepy cover. Shows Regan when she’s been fully possessed, and there’s an icky green lighting over everything.) However, my mother’s reaction to the movie is in part what spurred my desire to see it.

I will willingly watch The Exorcist at night, inviting the scares to bring it on. But, I have to admit, I’m likely to fall asleep to it at times.

Rosemary’s Baby

A young expecting mother must steel her nerves and try to find answers for herself as both her husband and her creepy neighbors take an unhealthy interest in her baby, an interest which hides an even deeper conspiracy.

I saw this movie at my aunt’s house a while back, when she had invited my sister and myself to go swimming in her pool. After the pool antics were done, I decided to watch a movie, and Rosemary’s Baby just so happened to be on. I was only half paying attention to it though, so when I saw it again later with my boyfriend as movie-night sort of thing, it was a tremendously hilarious experience.

Rosemary’s Baby unintentionally tickles my funny bone. It contains some outdated and truly inappropriate lines of dialogue that are side-splitting in how bad they are. But it does a good job at raising the tension. It’s the perfect movie to watch while eating from a big bag of chips, guffawing the whole time.

Alien

The crew of a space hauler encounters a deadly alien that slowly picks them off one by one.

It’s a simple premise, but it’s a fantastic movie. I already wrote a whole post about why I love Alien. I think the Alien/Xenomorph is the best movie monster to ever grace our screens. It fascinates me as well as terrifies me. If you haven’t seen it, you have a real treat in store for you!

I can watch this movie whenever, wherever. It is one of my go-to movies period.

The Marketing Scheme of a Lifetime: The Surprising Success of Sonic

Okay, guys, just hear me out.

Now, this is all conjecture on my part. I don’t know if any of this is true. My imagination has run wild with “what ifs,” and it’s driving me insane. So I’d thought I would share with you the crazy idea running rampant in my brain.

So you all remember when the Sonic the Hedgehog poster was first revealed, right? Almost immediately, we were thrown off by the strange body proportions of Sonic’s silhouetted form and we feared what that would portend for Sonic’s entire look.

And boy, were we right.

That first trailer was a disaster.

Not only were we given the strangest musical accompaniment ever heard during a movie trailer, Sonic just looked bad. His smallish eyes and tooth-filled smile creeped us out to no end.

All signs pointed to Sonic the Hedgehog being a disastrous movie.

But then the promise came. The filmmakers sent out a statement saying they were going to take some time to redesign Sonic, make him more palatable for human eyes. Fans of the franchise were skeptical, but appreciative of the clear acknowledgment that their voices were being heard. At a time when Game of Thrones fans were being “ignored,” Sonic fans could create all the memes they wanted that at least their franchise was taking fans into account.

Next, the new trailer came out, and it was the exact opposite of the first. Sonic looked like Sonic, and the music playing in the background was actually relevant to the character. We breathed a sigh of relief, but prepared ourselves for a movie we were still unsure of.

Finally, the movie released in theaters, and audiences loved it.

I went to see it with a group of friends ready to laugh ourselves to tears over how bad it would be(the same group I went to see Cats with), and imagine our utter shock at actually having a good time. Sonic the Hedgehog is by no means the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it has the distinct honor of being completely satisfactory, especially given what we expected.

But that got me thinking…

What if it was all on purpose?

What if the film’s marketing team purposefully lowered our standards by showcasing absolutely horrible materials to us, and then reversing course and releasing an average movie?

I know this is crazy, and no reasonable marketing team would do this (probably).

But the Below Average person that I am can’t help but marvel at the possibility of someone being so ingenious as to use below-averageness to blow people’s expectations out of the water.

Cats Review / The What-Did-I-Just-Watch Rant

My base understanding of Cats before I went to go see the movie was comprised of two things:

  1. The movie is about cats.
  2. There’s a really good song called “Memory” in it.

That’s it. When I walked into the theater to see it with a group of friends, that was the extent of my knowledge about Cats.

Now, I know so much more.

And not much of it is good.

In case you don’t want to read any further than this because you just don’t want to have anything to do with Cats, let me leave you with the surface-level impressions.

For the first part of the movie, you might have no clue what is going on, especially if you had no idea that the term “Jellicle” is what the cat-creatures call themselves. There are only two good-ish parts in the whole film, and they are surrounded by what-the-actual-fuck moments. And lastly, while the movie is an incomprehensible piece of refuse, it is tremendously good for laughs.

For those of you morbid enough to want to stick with me, here is a brief synopsis of the “story.”

Side note: The word “story” is in quotes because, as you’ll soon see, the “story” of Cats is a nightmare of confusion, bafflement, and insanity.

Protagonist cat-creature Victoria is dumped by, I asuume, her human owner onto the street. Once there, she is introduced to the world of cats, except they’re not really cats. They call themselves Jellicle Cats, and I still have no idea if this means something.

The Jellicles basically act like dicks for most of the time, like a regular cat would, but they at least try to explain to Victoria what life is like for them. Apparently, Victoria got abandoned at a very special time. This particular night is a celebration for Jellicles because something called the Jellicle Choice is happening.

When they sang their songs about the Jellicle Choice, they weren’t especially clear about what it entailed. But from what I gathered eventually, the Jellicle Choice is made by this old lady Jellicle Cat. She picks one Jellicle from the group (thereby making the Jellicle Choice) to be reincarnated into a new life.

Yeah, I had no idea how that would work, but at this point in the film, I just decided to roll with it.

The majority of the movie is then consumed by Victoria being introduced to a bunch of different cats who all want to be the Jellicle Choice. And they all sing songs about it.

In between their songs, audiences are introduced to this mean Jellicle named Macavity. Macavity really really wants to be the Jellicle Choice, and he catnaps a bunch of Jellicles to try and eliminate them as possible choices for the old-lady cat. (Spoiler warning: His plan doesn’t work.)

In the end, Victoria convinces old-lady cat and the other Jellicles to make this other ostracized Jellicle the Choice. This ostracized Jellicle has the most beautiful voice, and she sings a song (the song) about the faded joy of her youth. Once all the Jellicles hear her song, the old-lady cat decides to indeed make Previously-Ostracized Jellicle the Jellicle Choice.

Side note: I have officially typed the word “Jellicle” more times than I’ve ever wanted to in my life.

The movie kind of ends once the Jellicle Choice is placed in a hot air balloon and sent into the sky to probably die a cold and lonely death.

No, I am not even kidding.

So clearly Cats has some story issues. It is painfully unclear what is going on at times. The plot is not cohesive, and the only structure it is given is by introducing Victoria to new Jellicles, which hardly makes for a good story.

When I left the theater, I actually Googled “what is story to Cats” and I read up on the history of the musical. Apparently, the whole thing was inspired by some T.S. Eliot poems, to which I have to say, “Ohhhhhh, now I see. Now I see why the whole thing feels plotless.”

For those of you not in the know, T.S. Eliot is a writer from the postmodernist era of literature. I actually really enjoy postmodernist literature and poetry. It makes for a delightfully intricate pattern of nonpatterns that relies more on inferences and paradoxes than straightforward narratives. But as you can probably guess from that last statement of mine, that’s not a good backbone for a movie.

See, postmodernism in literature is all about the unreliability of narrators and the impossibility of penning human nature into a strict narrative. Which is the opposite of a basic story.

In layman’s terms, postmodernism can make for terrible movies.

Cats also failed to grab my attention musically. (And it’s a goddamn musical!) The only songs I liked were “Memory” and “Beautiful Ghosts.” When those songs are sung, you actually feel yourself become mesmerized by the melody. You look into the eyes of the Jellicle singing and think to yourself, “Holy shit, you have understandable feelings.” But then the song ends and another Jelllicle starts singing some rubbish.

Now, I know a lot of people complained about the visual effects used for Cats. While they are disconcerting, they’re not that bad. Maybe I’m just used to bad graphics from my time with Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Only two things bothered me visually in the movie. One was the fact that some of the Jellicles wear fur coats.

I mean, they’re cats, they’re already sporting fur all over their bodies. There’s no reason for them to wear these extravagant fur coats.

Also…where did they get them?

The second thing that was a bit disconcerting about the visuals was how sexual they were. They’re doing some weird kind of ballet throughout the movie, but it feels highly sensualized. And the girl Jellicles have the faint outlines of boobs.

Weird.

Cats is only meant for two kinds of people in this world. You are either a really big fan of the musical and want to see the film version of it OR you are going to see it with some chums in order to chuckle and chortle over how bad it is.

I rate Cats an I-can’t-believe-I-spent-money-actual-cash-to-see-this-movie-and-now-I-have-to-mentally-justify-this-to-myself-for-the-rest-of-my-life-or-else-I-might-just-pull-a-Jellicle-Choice.

The Skywalker Experience: A Sort of Review for the Latest Movie

When Joker came out, I actually bailed on writing a review of it. I had the most tumultuous time after watching that movie and trying to suss out how I felt about it. I didn’t want to touch a review of it with a ten-foot pole.

The Rise of Skywalker came out last week, and it felt almost as divisive as Joker, which kinda freaked me out a bit about reviewing it.

But this is Star Wars we’re talking about here. I love Star Wars.

No way am I not going to talk about how I felt about the supposed end of the Skywalker saga.

Besides, the name of my blog should serve as a disclaimer that I have no idea what I’m talking about and will hopefully deter anybody from getting pissy about what I say. It’s a below average review, people.

Also SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!

So, basically, The Rise of Skywalker ties up the story we started in The Force Awakens. Rey’s journey with her friends is concluded, Kylo Ren’s “villain” arc is resolved, and Palpatine is introduced as the big bad. (Or has he been the big bad from the very beginning?)

With that said as a general overview, it’s time for my thoughts on it, right?

I loved it!

Yup, I’m solidly in the camp of people who enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. I had so much fun while watching the movie. I’ve seen it in theaters three times, and I probably wouldn’t mind watching it again. For me, it was a blast from start to finish. I was constantly entertained, and, at the end of the day, that’s what I want from my sci-fi-space-wizard films.

If The Last Jedi or The Force Awakens bored you a tad, The Rise of Skywalker won’t. There are these sweeping fights and escapes that seem to happen every ten minutes in the story, and who doesn’t like a good lightsaber fight, am I right? Plus, the callbacks to the original films, the prequel films, and even the prior sequel films, all hit the nail on the head. This movie made me look back fondly on everything that has happened in the Star Wars universe.

That’s not to say that it’s a perfect movie.

The Rise of Skywalker is rushed as fuck. The action is nonstop, so it doesn’t let quiet moments in the story breathe properly. (Tip of the hat to Danny, who worded this perfectly.)

Critics of the movie also appear to dislike it for two major reasons:

  1. It erases the tonal shift and overall plot changes of The Last Jedi.
  2. It makes Force usage and power levels ubiquitous.

To the first critique, yeah, I can see why that’s a complaint. If you adored The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker might tick you off with how casually it dismantles the foundation its predecessor lay. Though to be fair, The Last Jedi itself deconstructed what The Force Awakens set up, so it’s a total case of what goes around comes around.

To the second critique…

Well…

It’s space magic. This isn’t some Christopher-Nolan-intellectual-head-scratcher or Martin-Scorsese-realistic-crime-thriller type of movie. If a director wants to introduce crazy-extreme Force powers in a Star Wars movie just for the heck of it, I’m more than willing to accept these surface-level changes.

And to those of you saying that it forever ruins the original trilogy…no. No, it does not. Those originals still exist. You can watch them, and they’re the same. If you so choose, you can ignore the sequels for the rest of your life. Don’t waste your time hating on these new movies and crying that they’re ruining your childhood when your childhood is over and done with, and it is essentially pristine thanks to the unalterable effect of having happened years in the past.

Anyways, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

The big reveal of The Rise of Skywalker is that Rey is a Palpatine. Apparently, someone was willing to bone the Emperor, and he had a son. Presumably, this son grew up, got married, and had Rey, and he decided that he didn’t want her to be influenced by Palpatine in any way. That’s why Rey was abandoned on Jakku.

This revelation wasn’t given much breathing time, so aside from shocked expressions, we don’t see Rey processing it as much as I would have liked. However, it does explain why Rey is so OP. She’s got that Palpatine blood coursing through her.

As you might have guessed, this is what makes The Rise of Skywalker such a middle finger to those who loved The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi was all about deconstructing the importance of bloodlines when it came to the Force. It proudly stated that Rey was a nobody, and there was no rhyme or reason as to why she was strong in the Force.

I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t a big fan of The Last Jedi. The structure of the story felt a little off to me, and certain plot holes kind of grated on me more than usual. But for me, Star Wars is Star Wars, and I like seeing people try new things with it. So I was not upset about Rey’s lack of notable parentage. Its sudden reversal in The Rise of Skywalker also did not annoy me simply because I kind of expected the last film in the trilogy to shake things up once more.

And even though The Rise of Skywalker dismantled what The Last Jedi built, it funnily enough made me appreciate the black sheep of the sequel family. By far, The Rise of Skywalker is my favorite movie of the sequel trilogy, but I can now look back at The Last Jedi with more fondness than I did before.

The Rise of Skywalker also introduces new characters to the franchise, like Zorii, Babu Frik, D-O, Jannah, and the Knights of Ren. For the most part, these new characters are handled well, and their introductions, while rushed, are entertaining.

Well, all except for the Knights of Ren. When you first see them walking around, you’re all, “Ohhh, so cool. Hashtag squad goals.”

But then you realize they essentially do and say nothing important in the movie, and you feel a disappointment you haven’t felt since Boba Fett’s fall into the Sarlacc Pit.

But alas, that’s the way things go sometimes.

Fans of deep Star Wars lore also have a lot to dissect in The Rise of Skywalker. It introduces something called a Force dyad, and even I have no clue what that means yet. It does give me a hankering to buy Star Wars books as soon as possible, which might be what they intended to happen all along.

Which brings me to that whole Reylo thing.

Look, I’m not a Reylo fan, but I’m not not a Reylo fan.

The Last Jedi featured some definite chemistry between Rey and Kylo Ren during those moments when they were bonded in the Force. The Rise of Skywalker ups the ante for that in a major way. I was definitely shocked that they went as far as they did in establishing and solidifying Reylo as a thing, but it actually seemed kind of…logical? It seemed like a natural progression, in a weird way.

Still, there is a part of me that kind of wishes they had left it more understated than they did. I don’t need much romance in my Star Wars movies, and after Anakin and his I-hate-sand flirtations, I kind of reached my limit.

Side note: At no point does The Rise of Skywalker reach the cringe-levels that the prequels did. The prequels still hold first place when it comes to cringey, yet awesomely quotable, dialogue.

So yes, long story short, I enjoyed the heck out of this movie. I don’t need my Star Wars movies to be a top-notch critical experience. The Rise of Skywalker swept me up in a thrilling adventure and made me forget about my life for a good two and a half hours. And that’s exactly what the first Star Wars film did for me too, all those years ago.