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Found 197 results

  1. FILM: The Last Jedi (2017)

    So, I've seen the film twice by now. Seen other reviews for context. Went with people who aren't informed in film criticism, saw what they thought. Now, I'll try to give it as professional a review as I can muster, without spoilers and in under 2,000 words. Long story short: I like the movie and I think its quite good, but nothing beyond that, really. It has too many issues with pacing, the implementation of humor and the use of some of its characters to be "great" in any real way. Now, short story long: Cinematography The visuals are very striking. I gave JJ Abrams kudos for slowing down his acrobatic camerawork for The Force Awakens in order to allow us to appreciate the setting, but here its taken to a whole other level: the film opens with a (virtual) long take down towards a fleet, and such long takes permeate much of the first act. Its a wise move not just in terms of allowing us to appreciate the corners of the frame (as opposed to just the focus) but also as a juxtaposition to the faster camerawork and cutting typical of a climax. Too much too often (a-la a Michael Bay film) and you become saturated in it. Simple, but wise nonetheless. As much as this film reflects Johnson's voice, there's an attempt to follow up in Gareth Edwards footsteps visually, with shots of big star-ships protruding out of the darkness of space, compared to the fully visible ships showcased in previous films. The action scenes especially are staged with a wink towards Samurai films (which were among George Lucas original inspirations) with flashy choreography (that still feels physical, unlike Revenge of the Sith) and exceptionally well-framed wide shots. There are a couple of faux-documentary touches that have plagued the series ever since Attack of the Clones, which I didn't appreciate and even a few shots out of focus, but no matter. There's striking use of lighting on-board the Dreadnaught, making it feel like a submarine. The white and-red planet already looked striking in the trailer, but its somewhat undone when the director has a character comment on it: "oh, its salt." There's some clever editing here. When Luke asks about Han, the film cuts to Kylo Ren, his murderer. There's cross cutting between the faces of Leia and Kylo that makes good use of the Kuleshov Effect. However, in looking at the various storylines that this film juggles, the editing ultimately fails to find a right balance between them all, a point we'll soon delve into. Production Value The film could do with a bit more polish: Many of the creatures in the film are brought to life via puppetry, but its often very obvious: It happens in some shots of the creatures on Luke's island and during the (brief) appearance of a certain character. Speaking of those creatures, they're not as annoying as previous creatures in this universe, but they're hardly essential to the film. Johnson stated that he wanted the island to feel alive, and that's on point, but the film features two or three different types of creatures just on the island and the scenes involving them, which are used to infuse the Luke-Rey storyline with some excessive humor, contribute to the film's running time to little effect. We could have done with just the caretaker-creatures. For a film series that has been taking pride of late in its reliance on practical effects, there's some shots of obvious CG when some of our characters find themselves afield in the red-and-white planet, and during a fight sequence with Phasma. In other cases, the filmmakers tried to mask the CG by darkness and extreme color grading that makes it very hard to see anything. The film sounds great, and John Williams' score is given much more presence in this. The main new theme, pertaining to the character of Rose, is a welcome addition to Williams catalogue, but the movie is otherwise thin on themes and ends up rehashing themes from the previous film, as well as The Force theme, often in very familiar settings. Johnson's temp track choice, which is apparently heavy on Williams' own score to Revenge of the Sith, is evident through the score. Characters The characters continue to be compelling. The acting is mostly strong, Johnson's superior direction shining through especially in the performance of the older cast (this is possibly the best Mark Hamil has even been, in any role), but strangely the outright corrupt villains - Snoke, Hux, Phasma and the occasional admiral - are really over-the-top, and are given very little to do. Its easily the worst we've seen of the otherwise outstanding Andy Serkis. Other characters such as Del Toro's DJ or Dern's Holdo are well-acted, but nonetheless do not feel fulfilled. Its become a fashion for films to feature a large amount of characters to evoke grandeur, but without sufficiently sly writing and ample screen time, they become too many, and most of them end up as mere figures, as opposed to a realized character. This film suffers for it. Plot and Story Unlike the previous entry, this film is original. There are nods to other films, but they're all appropriate, unless one is of the opinion that this film should go out of its way to flat-out ignore the previous entries. There's one moment which feels like fan service, because the film goes so far out of its way as to stage a fake-out death of a major character in order to create said moment. There's a fair bit of Lord of the Rings blood to this film (one scene made me want to call out for Grond), and the fake-out death is as cheap a trick here as it was there. Implementation of humor Gladly, this film somewhat subverts at least one such expectation from a "middle chapter' film, which is the darkness of tone. Yes, this film is more "serious" than The Force Awakens, and its deals with themes of murky morals, but its also very funny. Casual humor can work very well to leverage suspense, even in harrowing pieces of cinema. The first piece of dialogue in this film is of a comedic nature, and it goes on for quite a while. The humor certainly worked if my venue is of any indication, but it isn't always casual: its doesn't necessarily grow out of the situation each time, and it often overstays its welcome. Structure and Pace To return to a "long story short", there lies the main problem of this film. Its too long, and this is coming from someone whose most revered films are long films: Nolan's Batman films, Braveheart, and above all, the Middle Earth films, especially the longest chapter which - in its extended form - clocks in at nearly twice the length of this film. Part of the issue here is how out-of-character for the franchise this film's length is. Yes, its on par with Attack of the Clones, but that's the worst film of the series, and its screen-time certainly doesn't help, so its hardly a good example. The issue isn't actually so much of outright screen-time, its a structural problem in the script: that's another aspect of "middle chapters" which this film doesn't subvert. On the outside, there's nothing wrong with the structure of the film: it has a clear-cut structure with an opening action sequence to keep us pumped through the first act which follows, than a long second act in two halves (with a twist introduced in the midpoint) and a third act that concludes the film. The opening action sequence works well enough. Thankfully, its not a single scene but a drawn-out sequence. Not so thankfully, though, its too drawn out. The demise of a figure from the resistance (whose significance is only to be revealed later) is treated to a long, elegiac death scene, tenfold the length of Han Solo's death in The Force Awakens; the aforementioned comedic beat in that sequence is way too long, there's a lot of exposition and fussing around with technology: fuel, tracking technology, light-speed, dreadnoughts, etc. Its missing the point of the Star Wars setting: "A long time ago" - it owes a lot more to The Lord of the Rings than it does to anything written by Gene Roddenberry. Its not supposed to make sense in terms of technology, only to feel "used". But the core issue isn't with the first act. More often than not, in fact, its not a long first act that merits accusations of bloat: The original Star Wars clocks at forty-five minutes before Luke sets off with Ben. The audience accepts the first act as buildup, and is still hanging unto the opening action sequence, which promises more action down the line, and the long first act evokes the sense of an epic journey. Its when the first half of the second act slugs, however, that's when audiences will start groaning. Once a goal is established for our characters and they set out to it, we expect the film to kick off, but if it starts only to stall again - that's when people will be checking their watches. Use of action After the opening action scene, the film is very light on action. There is peril, but there are only two more action set-pieces: one involving Kylo Ren in the midpoint, and another one in the end of the third act on that white-and-red planet. Both are well made but are too few and too far in between, which makes this film feel excessively pensive. These action scenes, and the film as a whole, suffers from the non-linear structure. We've grown accustomed to films, especially middle chapters of trilogies, trafficking in multiple story-lines. Done right, it heightens suspense. But once you move beyond two storylines and - more importantly - once you have all those storylines running through the entire film, you risk creating a fragmented film. Where in Empire Strikes Back, we cut back to Leia and Han every time when the audience craves action, here we cut from the action and drama to this film's version of Monte Carlo. Instead of one storyline elevating another, here one storyline pulls the others down. When we move from this to the action scenes, all the storylines are firing simultaneously, and it becomes too much. Think about the finale of The Dark Knight Rises, where we have a battle in the streets, a dooms-day-device in need of deactivation, a fight scene with Batman, an attempted evacuation, a fake character-death and major reveals all happening simultaneously, and it does a disservice to the sequence as a whole. Here it happens twice, with one of them only being halfway into the film. The film peaks so high with that action set-piece, that the next one almost feels redundant. The former action scene was apparently difficult for the filmmakers to come to grips with, and it involves some of the worst tricks in the Star Wars arsenal coming to the aid of our heroes: namely, contrivance and incompetence on the behalf of the villains. The latter action scene is much more competent, but is surprisingly thin on Rey's presence, because it doesn't serve to further her arc (it having already concluded at the midpoint) but rather Luke's. One can imagine that Carrie Fisher's death informed the editing choices of this set-piece, and there's a little bit of poignancy to it. Sadly, rather than end here, the film has two scenes that almost feel like the sort of scenes you'd see throughout the credits of a movie, with the latter not featuring our characters in any capacity. Surprises vs. Planting and Payoff Another structural problem involves the use of planting and payoff. The Empire Strikes Back has given fans of the series an appetite for surprising twists. Writer-Director Rian Johnson was so eager to provide us with such twists that in doing so his script forgoes the mechanism of planting and payoff. This film waits until the very end to showcase a new ability made possibly through The Force, and while it can be seen as related to an ability showcased at length earlier in the film, it comes off as something of a Deus-ex-Machina, due to lack of being set-up well enough. As part of a trilogy which is supposed to conclude the story of the main Star Wars episodes, this film feels more conclusive than middle chapters usually do. In a way, its appropriate given the way the last film ended: you can't end two of three films in a cliffhanger. Neverthelss, one could have wished for these films to be shot simultaneously like the Middle Earth features to create better continuity. With Abrams returning to conclude the trilogy, Johnson's entry seems destined to remain the odd film out due to his unique voice shining through.
  2. Where do you rank John Williams' music for "The Last Jedi" among his previous scores for the 'Star Wars' films? Personally, I rank it his sixth best score, after "The Phantom Menace" and before "Revenge of the Sith". While it features a fair share of memorable new themes, included his new themes for Rose and Luke, as well as his exotic and innovative composition for the casino scenes in "Canto Bight", it relies far too heavily on previous material and doesn't present a signature theme that his previous scores have all featured (i.e. "Duel of the Fates" for "The Phantom Menace, "The Imperial March" for "The Empire Strikes Back"). Overall, despite its flaws, it's definitely a memorable and worthy addition to his sizable lexicon of music for the 'Star Wars' series.
  3. The Last Jedi opened in the USA tonight, and in addition to the standard 7:00 pm showings, there was also a 6:00 pm showing that including free snacks, some swag, and exclusive visual content before the main film. Many thought the visual content would be a look at Solo: A Star Wars Story, so you can imagine my surprise when, after a spoken introduction recording by Rian Johnson, we were treated to a 5-or-so minute long tribute to Williams, and a look at his work on The Last Jedi. There weren’t any specific new things to me - it was mainly people praising Williams, and Williams talking about his process (still using paper and all). There was a shot of him and Daisy Ridley hugging, which was cute with Williams’ little crush in mind. There was also a beautiful statement of Leia’s Theme (EDIT: was Luke and Leia’s theme, got mixed up in the excitement of the moment haha!). Williams did touch on the topic of Episode IX right at the end. He said he hasn’t thought about it yet, but that he hopes his time with the Saga isn’t over. Hopefully this gets officially posted online, or is included in the Blu-Ray!
  4. Hello, The Force Awakens opened (in the US) on Friday, December 18th, 2015. On Monday, December 21st, 2015, we discovered that Disney's Awards consideration side had added an album of score that could be streamed or download that was different than TFA's OST. Soon after, physical CDs pressed of the same music began showing up on ebay (as they had been mailed out to voting members of The Academy or other awards ceremonies) as well. I am hopeful Disney will do the same this year for The Last Jedi. If they do not, I will close this thread. If they do, I wanted to start the thread now to contain all information about the album like we had for TFA. In the meantime, while we anticipate this hopeful FYC, if anybody wants to say what music from the film they HOPE will be on the FYC album - WITHOUT SPOILING ANYTHING FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM YET, feel free to do so here. I'll update this main post with all information about the FYC album if we get one!. This is the page to keep your eye on to see if a score album gets added! http://www.waltdisneystudiosawards.com/star-wars-the-last-jedi It will probably be: http://www.waltdisneystudiosawards.com/star-wars-the-last-jedi/score
  5. Hello! If you've heard the Last Jedi OST album and would like to discuss the music on it, this the place! The original thread can still be used to talk about receiving your physical copy, differences between various editions, where to buy or stream it online, etc, but here, it's all about the music. I found this on youtube, and I haven't checked yet to see if its real or fake.
  6. In this thread you can openly discuss The Last Jedi with no spoiler blocks at all, but here in the early days before wide release it's ok if you want to block certain things. LAST WARNING!!! SPOILERS ALLOWED BEYOND THIS POINT!!!
  7. Hello! This thread is to discuss the Last Jedi score as heard in the film. No spoiler tags are needed but you're welcome to use them in the early days now before it's opened wide. @Oskar has already kicked off the discussion, you can read it here, and let's continue it here!
  8. Which themes will return in The Last Jedi do you think?
  9. No reactions on Twitter about the score yet. Don't really want to read too many reactions lest someone reveals some huge spoiler. Also, is it weird we've heard next to nothing from JW about the score? TFA had, what, two separate featurettes with JW, two 60 Minutes features, a 30 minute Tavis Smiley interview, countless newspaper articles. I think the only time JW's even mentioned TLJ was that radio interview for the Spielberg/Williams collaboration, plus the infamous "I don't want anyone else scoring for Daisy!" anecdotes at his concerts.
  10. Anyone check the IMDB page lately? There's a lot of bizarre credits in the music department; not sure if they're fake or not.
  11. In case there are any fans of Star Wars here, the Last Jedi red carpet premiere will take place on December 9 at 5pm PST and will be live streamed here: http://www.starwars.com/news/watch-star-wars-the-last-jedi-red-carpet-live-at-starwars-com
  12. What's this music? Probably library stuff, but it does sound orchestral.
  13. COULD CONTAIN SPOILERS From Reddit, “The score was masterful: unobtrusive and really built up the tension of the action scenes. I can’t wait to hear more of it!” Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/StarWarsLeaks/comments/7i14ge/japan_special_screening_first_1015_minutes_of_tlj/?st=JAVNMX5U&sh=5be09d85
  14. Alright....I'm gonna hold off making a thread for now but strange things are brewing on Reddit. Somebody posted these pics: And APPARENTLY that person claimed this is the tracklist: Admin Note: Jump HERE to confirmation this tracklist is real
  15. 1. Main Theme/The Supreme Leader 2. The Galaxy Needs You 3. Attack on D'Qar 4. Flight of The Resistance 5. Poe's Fire 6. Porgs 7. Order of Secrets 8. Bomb's Away 9. Retaliation 10. Crait 11. Welcome to Canto Bight 12. Jailbreak!/Hope It's Fast 13. Tragedy 14. Master of The Knights of Ren 15. The Supremacy 16. Heartbreak 17. Last Stand 18. The Cold Truth 19. Destiny 20. The Prince and The Scavenger 21. Reunion 22. They're Still Good In Him/End Credits. Courtesy of Soundtrack.net https://www.soundtrack.net/album/star-wars-the-last-jedi/
  16. This weekend the Dutch Philharmonic will perform a concert that includes a lot of music from Star Wars. It is in one of the best venues we have here in the Netherlands. They just announced that the concert will be streamed live on the internet: Streams: https://www.facebook.com/NedPhO.NKO/videos/1612478478808509/?fref=mentions www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBmJV91-7ps The concert starts at 20:15 CEST (11:15 AM PST) Source (in Dutch): https://www.facebook.com/events/459958841014762/ I will not be listening to the streams because I will be in the audience ;-)
  17. The Force Awaks will turn 2 yo in a few days... Already two years! Woo-oooo!!!! As you know, the FYC album was available very shortly after the release of the score, allowing the fans to make their own playlists very quickly. Did you stick to the OST album? Did you stick to the FYC Album? Did you make your own playlist? Bespin wants to know!
  18. No extra music or anything, just "2 collectible cards" https://www.target.com/p/-/A-52936836 They have an entry for the normal edition too: https://www.target.com/p/-/A-52994365
  19. With The Last Jedi looming as the second last Star Wars score ever conceived from the mind of John Williams, that leaves few chances to decide how you first experience one. This was a hot topic with The Force Awakens, as many fans chose to discover the score and experience its new themes "cold" in cinemas for the first time. Aided by Disney's steadfast protection of the score to prevent leaks (and with less than a few minutes of score being released pre-release), this made the choice of avoiding the score far easier than the likes of Attack of the Clones (whose OST leaked weeks before release, complete with a music video). So have you decided how you'll treat his score for The Last Jedi? With less than a month until release, we've uniquely heard nothing of the score. We have no details other than a rumoured tracklist, that the Main Titles were re-recorded, but no indication of JW's direction for the score nor any new themes composed. So how much are you willing to learn before seeing the film itself?
  20. I've been listening to the TFA score for about two years now, which is enough time for me to absorb it properly and I've had just about every kind of emotion towards this score in that time: sometimes I hate it, sometimes I love it, and sometimes I'm just not really interested. I've gotten to the point where I absolutely love it concretely now and it's mostly because I've had a lot of epiphanies about how it squares up against previous Star Wars entries. At first glance it seems lacking. The orchestrations are fairly simple overall compared to previous entries, so initially it comes across as somewhat "vanilla" and very basic. The strings/horns take front and center even MORE than they did before, with a lot of Williams' typical decorative bells and flutes not quite as present especially during action sequences. The "mickey mouse" is almost completely gone here so to speak, which initially came off as very self-conscious. It's almost as if he's somewhat stripped away a lot of what I love about his music, yet, still gave me something absolutely solid to the core. This is why I was disappointed initially but couldn't really admit it to myself. But... I couldn't stop listening Rey's theme. Rey's theme brings it all the way home. It reminds me the most of Across the Stars, not so much the melody but his placement of the theme throughout the film. It's almost used like "musical wallpaper" to give the entire picture a single theme to remember, rather than previous entries' "bottomless mug" approach. The way he scores Rey's scenes reminds me the most of how he scored E.T.'s scenes; delicate bells complimented by warm, rising strings that feel more like a hug than anything else. Curious and naive, yet also intelligent. But still, Rey's theme wasn't enough to solve the biggest puzzle in my head: why does the orchestration in this score feel so stripped down? Where are my twenty new themes like TPM? Is JW getting lazy? Was it on purpose? Wait... That's when it hit me like a brick: BACK TO BASICS. The whole approach that Kennedy and Abrams had for TFA was all about going back to it's roots; finding the essentials of Star Wars and building off of that. Well that's EXACTLY what JW did with this score. He stripped all the fat and cut a Star Wars score right to it's core giving us the basic building blocks of a AAA film score. The orchestration speaks for itself in my opinion, and perfectly reflects the spirit of the film. I can't wait to see if JW slowly builds onto the TFA score with TLJ, adding elements of the older trilogies here and there so that by the end of the trilogy everything feels well rounded. It's as if JW is reinventing himself for this trilogy by going back to his roots yet bringing us a somewhat fresh approach without feeling too derivative (the film itself is already a little too derivative, which explains why he didn't go full "Star Wars" with this one yet) I really can't put my finger on it, and might need all of my fellow JW fans to take another look at this for me, but I swear that the bouncing flute at the beginning of Rey's theme is a variation of the Imperial March. It could be a coincidence, as it usually is.... but maybe it's not. Mods: If you need to put this in the TFA thread I totally understand.
  21. We come to it at last; the great poll of our time. Both are massively influential giants in the sci-fi genre, and continue to excite and inspire millions of fans decades after their inceptions. Which sci-fi epic do you prefer; the rollicking action and adventure of Star Wars, or the cerebral intelligence and ingenuity of Star Trek?
  22. Hello my name is Paul Klusman I'm known for a series of cat videos on YouTube starting with "An Engineer's Guide to Cats" and others. I'm working on a cat video of Star Wars ep. IV A New Hope and I need to contact Mr. John Williams for permission to use his composition in my video. I'm not using the original theatrical recordings but instead I am singing - "meowing" the melodies and using it as underlying music in my video. I would like to use the exact melodies rather than skewing them as a parody. I know this is a long shot but does anyone have a way to contact Mr Williams quickly? The video is nearly done and I'd like to release it on YouTube in a week or so. Thanks so much, Paul Klusman
  23. Dunno if this is legit or not; the track titles give away much of the basic story structure, and in previous OSTs, the opening theme is usually referred to as "main title" not "main theme", and the final cue often includes "finale". Still, it's worth giving a look. Also, by the way, if anyone here has Instagram, you can find me at @realjohnlong.