star wars

[Movie Review] The Force Returns as Beautiful as it is Dangerous in ‘The Last Jedi’

Fandom in all its forms is equal in its ability to disappoint and awe. You can’t please everyone and thus is the eternal struggle of the working artist. Rian Johnson has come from humble artistic origins to helming a geek property with a rabid fan base quick to swarm perceived failings. As a casual fan of the Star Wars franchise that will lose in spectacular faction at whatever trivia you can conjure there are few fatal flaws that this reviewer will dig up within the internal mythology. As a result in conjunction with being a fan of Johnson’s filmography The Last Jedi takes the series to near euphoric heights that previously felt out of reach.

Without boring anyone with regurgitating plot bears I’ll say just this to begin–this is not your father’s Star Wars. Rian Johnson admirably zigs when geeks everywhere expected him to zag, boldly interpreting this universe in his own unique way. By doing so the director explores complex and–sit down for this–NEW concepts behind where this universe could evolve. What that means for our beloved franchise is that characters may not behave or grow in ways we expect which many fans misinterpret as weakness in Johnson’s vision and refuse to accept a unique interpretation that isn’t just fascinating–sit down again–it also fits.

Cry for my geek cred to be revoked if you must–I don’t know how official any of these things are to begin with. So many people are focused on their own idea of how this franchise should have continued without stopping to realize we all have our own process for internalizing ideals and Star Wars is not immune to those seeds growing into something bigger or just (gasp) different from the original impetus. George Lucas opened this door for us all and were eternally grateful, but let’s face it, he nearly allowed the door to be welded shut forever. Now Johnson has stepped through the door lovingly opened once again by JJ Abrams with a swagger audiences simply aren’t attuned to–which is fine, but don’t assume that Johnson’s tune is inferior.

The Last Jedi doesn’t pander to fans coming back with rose colored glasses–especially as it pertains to Luke Skywalker or the his thus far. Sure, Luke’s arc is unexpected in how it undercuts the journey we’ve seen thus far, but The Force Awakens was criticized for not taking enough risks and following the SW formula. The Last Jedi is hitting stricter backlash for taking the risks that TFA didn’t make–further proof that as an artist you can’t please everyone.

If you can’t get on board with the story, one thing is certain–this is hands down the most beautiful Star Wars movie to date. The stunning color contrast of the salt planet with red soil during the climactic battle to the breathtaking visuals of a shattered ship after a collision at light speed. Johnson has created some of the most iconic and visually astonishing shots and sequences within the franchise to date. A throne room light saber battle takes center stage as the film’s most memorable moments–it’s color scheme, choreography, technical skill and audacity is unrivaled within the many films in canon.

The film’s biggest missteps consist of an unfortunate side mission for Fin involving a trip to an illustrious casino planet chock full of the galaxy’s most obnoxious creatures–though it does stuff in a timely and affecting theme. To counter it’s faults though, Johnson stuns with a number of clever emotional beats that pays off fumbled set ups while also having a little something to say about modern times with a wit that we simply could never have squeezed from latter day Lucas.

Episode VIII has proven to be one of the most challenging entries to the Star Wars universe when it comes to fans loyalties. It is without a doubt time for fans to let go of their preconceptions and…in the words of the wise Luke Skywalker, “Just breathe”. Rian Johnson is a filmmaker who’s passion is rivaled only by his own fandom and that’s why his direction of the franchise cannot and should not be shrugged off or maligned, but embraced with a ferocious Wookie hug. The Last Jedi isn’t just one of 2017’s best blockbuster offerings, it’s one of the finest Star Wars entry to date.

Rating: A-

Beer Recommendation: Coming from a galaxy far far away–well Iowa anyway–comes Intergalactic Warrior from Toppling Goliath Brewing Company. Nestled in Northeast Iowa Toppling Goliath pumps out world class beer left and right–despite transparent contract brews that somewhat tainted their standing for passionate beer geeks across the globe. Galaxy and Warrior hops combine to catapalty a juicy yet pleasantly bitter kick of citrus that collided with a full and crisp mouthfeel. The beer’s earthy finish cements Toppling Goliath’s unique approach to hop bombs that have made them the talk of the Midwest. Pairs perfectly with epic lightsaber battles and roasted Porg.


[Movie Review] ‘Rogue One’ Delivers Star Wars Fun With a Darker Flair

img_2146There are a great deal of Star Wars fans that will never know what it was like seeing the originally trilogy on the big screen during its original run. Sure, we can go to re-releases and restorations in hopes of capturing the same feeling that our parents and grandparents were treated to, but it will never truly be the same experience. I believe Rogue One has come the closest to achieving that feeling than any previous sequel or prequel has all the while blending new visuals and techniques with a twist on the old aesthetic of A New Hope.

Of course Rogue One picks up before the introduction of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewy with The Death Star just wrapping up its creation and a devastating weapons test on the horizon. The rebellion tasks a pair of rebels to track down and kill the lead scientist in charge of designing and overseeing the construction of the massive weapon. However, once a fraction of the Star’s destructive power is unleashed the rebellion loses hope and it’s up to a rogue collective to devise a plan to steal the ship’s plans to study and reveal its weaknesses.  (more…)

Brew & View: The Buzz Awakens

The Movie (No Spoilers)

img_8405To celebrate the long awaited release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it seemed long overdue to bring back a favorite feature of mine, Brew & View. It’s been a long long time–and in a galaxy far away if you will–since we last saw the likes of a Brew & View. Even still, this will not be your typical Brew & View–let’s call it, View & Brew to be a bit more accurate. The following will be a spoiler free review of The Force Awakens, followed by the beer pairing for the film. The beer in question, Toppling Goliath’s Light Speed Pale Ale.

First things first though. It was only a few years ago that J.J. Abrams rejuvenated a series that this reviewer previously had no allegiance to. Abrams successfully injected a sense of enthusiasm and fandom into me that was previously void, so the monumental wait for the filmmaker to tackle a franchise where enthusiasm and fandom already existed was almost unbearable. J.J. tackled the unenviable task of reviving a series that was nearly destroyed by its creator with an uncommon poise and emerged on the other end having given the franchise a much needed infusion of modern tastes that brings Star Wars into a new generation with extreme spectacle.

The Force Awakens picks up some time after the events of Return of the Jedi, wherein Luke has disappeared following a failed attempt to train a group of Jedis. In that time a new threat, the First Order, has risen from the ashes of the Empire, but the Resistance is seeking to ensure that they do not succeed. Both are searching for Luke knowing that he could be the key to stopping the First Order. (more…)


10 Costume Ideas For Halloween 2011

Halloween is eerily close and if you like me wait till last minute to make plans for Halloween parties or just staying home to pass out candy then you also do not have a costume prepared. For those of us that thrive on last minute decisions the following list are ideas from recent movies to dress up as when you go out boozin or just to impress the trick or treaters when they ring the doorbell.

The Driver (Drive) – This costume sort of double dips because even if you haven’t seen DRIVE you can just say well I’m Ryan Gosling, however, the scorpion jacket might throw more than a few people off. Please try to refrain from random acts of violence and pulling off getaway drives if you get lost in playing this character, there’s no happy ending likely to come out of it.

Alien-wolf-gorilla-motherf*cker (Attack The Block) – Haven’t seen ATTACK THE BLOCK yet? What are you waiting for it’s currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray. If someone can replicate the stark black alien with glowing teeth costume they would automatically win any costume contest I was judging, unless of course the competition was a hot girl dressed as a nudist or should I say undressed. In my head though I’d be commending you on a job well done for the badass alien costume.

Kidnapping Ape (30 Minutes Or Less) – If you’re feeling lazy, like I usually do then you can always just run to the nearest costume store and pick up these simple masks that I’ve seen almost everywhere. You won’t win any points for originality but if you go the extra mile and have someone next to you with a FAKE bomb strapped to your chest I will give you kudos- and enjoy reading about it in the news on November 1st.

Captain America/Thor – I’m sure these will be popular amongst the kids this year with the release of their respective movies- that and the wave of Optimus Prime costumes. However, you might be able to woo a few of the ladies by dressing up as these costumed heroes…don’t be surprised if they are mistakenly calling you Chris on both accounts though.

Bridesmaid (Bridesmaids) – Can’t make a list of costumes without a suggestion for the ladies (or certain dudes that might be into this). I’m sure most ladies have a dress they were forced to wear to a friend’s wedding or a prom or anything that might require such an outfit, if not then get a hold of a cheap one, get some pink spray-paint and you’re good to go….brides you know you needed to reason to break out your dress again and what’s scarier to dudes than marriage- am I right?

Demented Ballerina (Black Swan) – Another for the ladies- you can let your imagination take over on this one but what better way to say “I’m crazy” than to dress in a tutu and glue black feathers all over your body. Also if you decide to bring in your beat girlfriend on this the Halloween after party should be a lot of fun.

Kevin James (Zookeper/The Dilemma) – Here’s an easy one for the husky fellas. Bonus, if you work for a zoo then it’s even easier. I find James to be pretty funny on King of Queens but his movie career is far from inspiring if not downright scary. Plus, there’s a fantasy element to this costume too, it gives you the allusion that despite being unfunny in movies you will always be cast with a significant other that is way out of your league.

Tranny (The Hangover Part II) – Here’s an idea for both them men and women and inappropriate to boot. Most joke stores are likely to have fake boobs for the guys to pull this off and ladies- well you may have to browse shelves at less than reputable places to find a prosthetic part of the male anatomy to complete the ensemble. This idea counteracts the number of people dressing as other members of THE HANGOVER entourage and anyone dressed as Stu might either be strangely attracted to you or try to avoid you like the plague- either way your costume will get some attention.

Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger) – The good news here is that even if people don’t know who Red Skull is, the actual makeup for this can double as a man with his skin peeled off his body. Once you bust out your incredibly fake German accent and start talking about genocide I think people will get there’s a deeper point to the costume and they’ll either ask who you are or assume you’re a skinless Hitler.

Old Woman/Darth Maul Demon (Insidious) – Here’s another idea you may end up having to explain to people. INSIDIOUS may have been one of the more successful horror releases this year but I still think people will not immediately understand what costume you’re trying to pull off. If I saw someone at the bar dressed as the old woman ghost I would put in a request to leave that bar that’s for sure. Also, it is your duty to sneak into every single picture someone takes that night- if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand. The problem with dressing as the demon is people will probably mistake you for the badass Sith from STAR WARS, which is not a bad thing in and of itself- he was the best part of THE PHANTOM MENACE.