Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Star Wars Last Jedi Review

I settled into my theater seat this Saturday, giddy with nostalgic anticipation for a bit of my youth. Remembering watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in the theater as a teenager, I looked forward to the epic tale to be splashed upon the screen.

In my mind the shadow of The Force Awakens loomed with the knowledge we would learn more about the characters introduced and finally have answers to the many mystery's posed:

  • Who was Rey really and why did she have the Force?
  • Who are Rey's Parents? Why did they leave her on Jokku?
  • Who is Snoke? Has he been a part of SW lore all along? Maybe a advisor to Palpatine? Darth Palageius himself?
  • Why did Luke make a elaborate map to his location, and what will he reveal when found? What has Luke been doing since the events of ROTJ?
  • Is Finn part of the plan, what woke him up and caused him to defect? If he Force sensitive? 

Many many questions would be answered in The Last Jedi!

I enjoyed much of the Last Jedi as a fun Sci Fi sort of romp. Many hated the Casino Planet but I always like visiting strange new worlds, and I always love creative creature design. I liked the ship to ship battle scenes particularly the opening scene.

The Battle with Snoke, Kylo and Ray was great. The Battle with Rey, Kylo and the Praetorian Guard was epic as well.

Many of the set pieces were fun and exciting and taken by themselves are excellent. My problem with TLJ is the over all plot. What was it?

Plot A: The Rebels try to out run the Imperial fleet
Plot B: Rey tries to get Luke to Teach her the Force and join the Rebels.
Plot C: Finn and Rose side adventure to find a code breaker

In between we learn why Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side. Leia dies then comes back to life, Luke projects himself to a different planet in order to stall the Imperials and give the rebels time to escape. Finn kills Phasma.

What I didn't like:

The overall plot made no logical sense. The Rebel Fleet tries to stay just out of cannon range of the Imperial fleet. Why cant another imperial ship hyper jump in front of the ship? Or unleash the whole squad of Tie Fighters?

Why did Luke hide a map to his location when he did not want to be found? The Island was a cool concept and had some neat fun moments, but nothing that helped with the plot. The darkness beneath the Island intrigued me immensely until we get to see it....its a mirror! Why not create real tension and terror? How about a creature(Spider) form of Snoke that would have clued Rey into the fact that she was being manipulated? A wasted concept right out of ESB that disappointed.

The Finn/Rose sub plot to find the Code-breaker turned out to be unnecessary to the plot and the cause. Its like someone came up with a the idea of the casino planet so the shoehorned it in. Again I enjoyed the visuals and creature design, but it made no sense to the plot.

Killing Snoke- why? He was a super devious, manipulative and a very interesting character. We wanted  to know more about his origins. It was a great moment admittedly, but then follow through with it. This film would of been so much better has Rey joined Kylo and created a Sith Lord/Apprentice scenario. This would have left a huge cliffhanger..will she/wont she set up for the third film.

Lastly....Luke's behavior and death...If we parallel Obiwan/Luke to Luke/Rey we see that Obiwan helped Luke on his journey despite the outcome with Anakin. He acted as a mentor. Luke became a big grump and downer. His lessons sucked, and it seemed that he apostatized from the Force religion. He didn't care and even sought to destroy the sacred texts. Luke would never do this. Furthermore he would have never tried to kill his nephew, Kylo even if he thought he could sense darkness in him. Out of Character. It was also out of character for him to "phone in" his confrontation with Kylo at the end.

A force hologram? He actually could of used the force to block the fire from the blasters, that would have made some sense. 

So where does the film leave the series? No one from the original series is left that is significant to the plot after this entry. I do not believe the new cast of characters are strong enough to carry the series.  Carrie Fisher is not returning obviously, Luke is dead, Han is dead, Chewbacca is regulated to a Porg wrangler and R2-CP3P0 are "offline". Who is left?

Kylo, Rey, BB8, Finn and ......who?

I think the writers of this film left JJ Abrams a real mess for the third entry.

My final rating is 3 tacos out of 5.

Monday, November 7, 2016

ST Beyond review

I had my second viewing of ST Beyond this weekend. My wife did not catch the film during its theatrical release, so she asked to watch it on the telly this weekend.

Her observations:

  • This is the best looking Star Trek crew ever! 
  • Bummed at the death of Anton Yelchin
  • Finally got to see Idris face
  • Krall is like Dorian Grey( I totally missed that the first time)
  • Loved it!

I have to admit watching the second time, I really had fun. Still bummed the Enterprise was destroyed. I loved all the interactions and crew moments.

My gripes are:

  • Why is Kirk so depressed about being in space only 3 years in? Gald he regained his mojo at the end. I don't like depressed Kirk. 
  • After the second viewing I understand Krall's intentions a bit more( great Xindi and Romulan war references). However I wish they would have done a flashback with him and really rooted his character. I would have preferred a known character to a new one with little context.
All in all great re-watch, and I really hope they continue with new adventures in this Cinematic Universe.

4 tacos out of 5

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Trek Beyond Trailer Impressions

The ST : Beyond trailer dropped a few days before the wide release of SW: The Force Awakens.

I thought it was a nice break form the dark tone of ST:ID- and I think that was the point. The music : Beastie Boys, Sabotage hearkens back to ST 2009, it adds a nice playful aspect to the trailer. The Bones/Spock dynamic plays well in the trailer and enlists a nice chuckle.

It appears the Enterprise is once again destroyed/incapacitated and the crew is split up on a alien planet. My guess is that a Alien entity brings trespassers into its space to this planet for some sort of purge...

 A new martial arts wielding female alien character is prominent as a ally. Edris Elba's character is revealed as Jen'Hadar like alien. Big mistake in my opinion to cover up Idris Elba in prosthetic and make up- Elba shines a as actor and covering him up diminishes the Gravitas he brings. We will see...

This article gives me hope for the Film: Pegg interview from ST: Beyond. 

I think the trailer was made for the SW audience, and I saw it play before SW. It did get some good reactions from the crowd.

Olancha Peak Brew


In 2015 my brother, Michael Espinosa and I decided to home brew our favorite beverage: Beer.

Now many have embarked on this endeavor with Craft Beer a hot trend in CA. We have at least 4 Craft Breweries within a 10 mile radius.

Surf Brewery
Topa Topa Brewery
Poseidon Brewery
Institution Ale Company 

What a great time to be a lover of the craft!

We have one advantage: We have our own well! That well is in very small desert town in Owens Valley area California. It is 200 ft deep and is fed by the Sierra Nevada Aquifer. There is almost zero agriculture in the area. We have tested our water and it is clean!

In 2015 we successfully completed two Pale Ales using the extract method. Looking at 2016 we want to evolve into a All Grain Setup- this is daunting at the moment but I am researching and acquiring the equipment necessary.

Stay tuned for a update!

Star Wars The Force Awakens Review- * Spoilers Ahoy*

In anticipation of the watching Star Wars the Force Awakens I decided to view: A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back (I ran out of time for Return of the Jedi). I also had fun with Cinema Sins take on all 6 movies.

It occurred to me that the Star Wars universe requires an incredible amount of coincidental meetings of people and things in order to work. I will not go into detail but any fan knows this is true.  And I was struck with that same notion while watching Star Wars the Force Awakens. One example of this early on in Star Wars the Force Awakens is when Finn and Ray stumble upon “the old bucket of bolts”, the Millennium Falcon on Jakku.  The scene takes place as Finn and Ray are escaping The First Order by foot. They run into an open plain and see two ships in a junkyard. The Millennium Falcon being one of them. They run to the other ship, rejecting The Millennium Falcon as a choice, but that ship is destroyed in front of their eyes so they only choose the Millennium Falcon because it was the only choice. This is just one example of how random coincidence serves as a plot device to bring the “heroes” together. Maybe this plays to the series notion of Fate and the Force working in mysterious ways. Either way, on reflection, an overuse of coincidence and chance meetings becomes too cute and strains credulity, even for “A Galaxy Far, Far Away”.

Star Wars the Force Awakens is a good Star Wars Movie. Better than all the prequels and Return of the Jedi. It stands in a solid third place behind Empire Strikes Back #1, A new Hope # 2. All of the things we love about the Star Wars Universe are here. In fact the film mirrors a New Hope in many Ways:

ü  Secret mission given to a droid
ü  Hero Character living on a Desert stumbles upon said droid
ü  Heroes escape Desert planet in the Millennium Falcon
ü  Cantina Scene featuring the scum and villainy of the galaxy
ü  Death Star like Super Weapon with a single weak point to be exploited
ü  Hidden parental relationships to main characters
You get the point. The film delivers what we all liked about Star Wars a New Hope for fans and new comers in spades. This is a very enjoyable film and I look forward to repeat viewings.
The character of Ray is bright and instantly likable as is the story of Finn. They make a good duo and we want to see these two adventures together. There is much left a mystery about Ray and we learn that she is a Jedi. We have to assume she is the daughter of Luke Sywalker or possibly a unknown Jedi(she is way too young to be Obi Wan’s daughter).

That being said I have a big issue with the main antagonist: Kylo Ren.

Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia Skywalker. We find this out halfway through the film through a touching scene where we learn that Han and Leia have been estranged from each other because they lost their son to the dark side. We understand that they sent Kylo Ren( Han calls him Ben) to Luke for training to be a Jedi. We also learn that one of Luke’s apprentices turned to the dark side and murdered the other Jedi. We assume this is Kylo, but are not told this specifically. This perceived failure on Luke’s part is the reason why Luke disappeared. The droid BB-8 secret mission is to deliver a map showing Luke’s secret location to the Rebel alliance.

So the revelation that Kylo is Han and Leia’s son is big! Han and Leia vow to work together to bring Kylo home to the light. This theme of adolescent rebellion is one that, much like the death of a child or parent (JJ often uses these themes, see the opening scene of STAR TREK 2009) can be a great plot device to draw viewers in and create an emotional connection.  As a parent I was invested in seeing this play out.

However, after vowing to bring Kylo home, Han sees his chance when he coincidentally crosses paths with Kylo toward the end of the film. Their meeting is emotional, well-acted, we feel Han’s pain and longing to save his son. Then, Kylo commits Patricide.

I disagree with this choice. It makes Kylo Ren completely nonredeemable. It completely defeats the point of bringing Han Solo into this film. It was a cheap trick and the film did not earn Han Sol’s death. If you wanted to Kill Han Solo off, fine, but don’t have his son do it! In the context of SW this makes no sense. The themes of SW are redemption, turning away from the Dark Side to the Light. As much as we hated Anakin in the Prequels, in the end, he saves his Son from the Emperor. Now, maybe Han didn’t die, we see him impaled and then fall to his death. We then see Chewbacca leave with the Millennium Falcon. Chewbacca would not leave without Han so he must be dead. Either way Kylo meant to kill his father.

For this reason I could not give Star Wars the Force Awakens 4 tacos out of 5.

Final verdict:

3.5 tacos out of 5

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Road Book Review

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road was a easy read, by that I mean its not a 2000 page book with small type. It a book that could be read in a day if you wanted to. I took a few days, a hour here and there to finish. In that sense it is easy. That is the only sense. The story is dank, dark, morose and downright depressing. Literally.

The story takes place in a Post apocalyptic America, I gather it is somewhere is the south east. The skies are all grey and full of ash and soot. Trees are charred, animals are scarce. Paragraph upon paragraph describing bitter cold nights, dark skies and a charred landscape. Often I read a paragraph only to think to myself that the exact idea was already expressed a dozen times using different words.

But because the depressing, bland world McCarthy creates sets up the reader in a sort of funk, it also makes for engrossing reading when something does happen. And it does get intense. The story itself is rather small, with a narrative folowing a father and son as they are basically Hobo's traveling along a dangerous road, following a creased map, trying to get to the coast. They have to scrounge for food and shelter along the way, all the while trying to avoid humanity. It seems the surviving humans have taken to survival by any means necessary, including cannibalism.

During the books narrative you just know the pay off is going to be bad and heart wrenching, and to a point it is. I will not spoil the ending but I will say that if you hang into the end, McCarthy allows the sun to poke through the clouds for a moment or two.

Rating 3/5